Saturday, 14 November 2015

Diabetes Awareness Month

Did you know that November is Diabetes Action Month? I didn't until this morning when someone posted about it on their Facebook. It got me thinking about diabetes and the prevalence of it in our community.  Diabetes does not have a very high profile when you consider that over 240 000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with it and an estimated 100 000 others have it and do not realise. Most of us know someone who has diabetes, so this week my column is around good food and diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease where your body can’t control your blood sugar levels. If you have this disease, your either don’t make enough insulin, or your cells have become insulin resistant. Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas. It enables your body to use glucose from the carbohydrates in your food for energy and for storing for later use.  Insulin balances your blood sugar levels. It stops your blood sugar levels getting too high (hypoglycaemia) or too low (hyperglycaemia).

We need glucose in our body for energy and in order to work for us, it needs to get into our cells. After we eat, the beta cells in our pancreas are signalled to release insulin. The insulin attaches to the sugar in our body and acts as a gate keeper, unlocking our cells to allow the sugar into enter so it can be used for energy. Once you have enough sugar in your cells, the insulin then helps to store the excess in your liver for use later when you need it; between meals, during sport etc…

Type One diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Most people who have this are dependent on insulin shots, or an insulin pump to provide the insulin they need for the whole of their lives. It is usually diagnosed in childhood, but it can develop in adults.

Type Two diabetes is the result of the body not creating enough insulin to manage the sugar in the body, or the cells becoming insulin resistant and not recognising the insulin that is there. Type Two is quite often a lifestyle problem and has usually been an affliction of people who are overweight and over 30. However, unhealthy lifestyles are leading to more and more young people and children developing Type Two. A healthy diet and some exercise and eliminate the need for medication.

If you have diabetes or want to avoid it, then watching what you eat is extremely important. It does not mean depriving yourself of all things delicious; it means being mindful of what you are eating and watching your carbohydrate intake. Avoiding pre-packaged food, or at least learning to read the nutritional information on the packaging is a good start; 4 grams of sugar is around 1 teaspoon. Fresh food is always the best choice; eat lots of fresh vegetables. . If you like fruit juice, you are far better off to eat an orange than to drink a glass of orange juice; one glass of orange juice has the sugar of around four oranges.

The most common symptoms of Type Two diabetes are: excessive thirst, frequent or increased urination (especially at night), excessive hunger, fatigue, blurry vision and sores or cuts that won’t heal. If you any of these symptoms, please see your doctor; the test is as simple as an almost painless prick to the finger to test your blood sugar level.

The recipe this week is one of my favourites. It is a nice treat for those watching their sugar intake. It has the taste of something rich and decadent, but is not too bad for you, in moderation. If you don’t have access to smoked trout, please use salmon.

Kia makona, Mawera Karetai – The Wild Cook x

Smoked Trout and Ricotta Filo Parcels
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
1 tablespoon stock or water
300g smoked trout or salmon. Removed from skin and break up, checking for bones.
3/4 cup ricotta or cottage cheese
1/4 cup low fat natural yoghurt
1 egg
1 teaspoon dried dill tips
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Pepper to taste
12 sheets filo pastry
Olive oil for brushing


Preheat oven to 190 C. Heat oil in a large pan, add onion and garlic, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until onion is soft.
Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Add the cheese, yoghurt, egg, dill, juice and pepper and stir well to combine. Add smoked trout and gently combine.
Lay 2 sheets of filo pastry on a clean board. (Cover the rest with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.)
Brush lightly with olive oil. Place 1/6 of the mixture on one end of the pastry leaving a 2-3cm border on each side. Fold into desired shape. Brush with a little extra olive oil. Repeat with remaining pastry and filling.

Place parcels on a lightly oiled or paper lined baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Serve with a fresh salad and a light dressing.

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