V has been in hospital for over 3 weeks while his diabetes is stabilized and his foot heals.
Despite the fact that the hospital staff speaks French and my French is more in the 'nice weather' category than the 'functions of the pancreas' category, I have managed to glean some information. (V's French is more in the 'cafe & croissant' category)
This is what I know now that I didn't know before:
Diabetes is not a disease. It's a syndrome of disordered metabolism involving the pancreas.
The pancreas is a rather busy organ in the digestive system producing several important hormones and enzymes.
In Type 1, the pancreas produces little or no insulin. It is only controlled with insulin injections.
In Type 2, the body develops a resistance to insulin and the pancreas eventually starts to decrease insulin production. It can be controlled with insulin injections and/or pills and/or diet and exercise.
When V went into the hospital they immediately started him on insulin injections. The purpose, in addition to controlling his blood sugar levels, was to give his pancreas a chance to rest and recuperate.
Because he had a long term infection in his foot, (5 months) the pancreas had been working overtime, fighting the infection and producing insulin. In the doctor's words: It was tired.
In the ensuing weeks, as the infection has cleared, up the amount if insulin he's using has been steadily dropping. We expect him to be off it in another 4 – 6 weeks. He'll then, most likely, take pills, at least for awhile. With luck he'll be able to control it with diet and exercise.
A big advantage he has is that he's not overweight. In overweight people the pancreas simply can't keep up with the demands of insulin production.
There is a condition called 'Syndrome X' which is a predisposition to Type 2 diabetes which, if discovered early, can be controlled with diet and exercise, and may not develop into diabetes.
Another, important bit that I didn't know…
At least initially, there is nothing that a diabetic can't eat. It's all about portion control and timing.
Sugar and sweets should be limited but can be worked into the diet.
More about that next time…
For now… Have you tried quinoa?
Quinoa has been
grown in the Andes for over 6,000 years and was second only to the
potato as a food crop (third was maize). It was grown and held sacred
by the Incas.
Nutritionally it's very high in protein, gluten free,
high in fiber and minerals, and " contains a balanced set of essential
amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete foodstuff".
Not only that, it's good! It has a nutty
taste with just the tiniest bit of crunch: when cooked the germ (a
tiny, white spiral) separates from the seed and maintains an 'al dente'
Quinoa has an outer coating that is very bitter and must be
thoroughly washed. If you buy packaged quinoa this will have been done
so all you need do is cook it.
It comes in both a tan and a red version.
My French package said to cook it like pasta, in lots of boiling
water. Google said to cook it like rice, which is what I did: 1 part
quinoa t o 2 parts chicken stock, ready in 15 minutes – as soon as the
germ starts to separate.
More quinoa recipes to follow.