Yes, you can live a happy and normal life with diabetes. Take it from Eric Bergara, who at 59 years old is a poster boy of youth and health despite living with the disease. With his mindful eating and active lifestyle, Bergara is able to do sports and activities better than even some of us who don’t even have any disease. The triathlete, conservationist, dive master, and navy reserves corpsman shares that being active and eating well gives him the confidence to indulge on “cheat food” once in a while and keeps his medication “at bay” not unlike his state of health ten years ago. He also notes that constantly eating healthy and being fit as a way of life was the most challenging thing to do for him.
WHAT IS DIABETES?
Diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces very little or no insulin, (hormone that regulates blood sugar) or when the body does not respond appropriately to insulin and is then unable to metabolize sugar and fat because it was overly inflamed. There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 Diabetes (juvenile-onset diabetes) is genetic and is incurable; and Type 2 Diabetes, which affects majority of diabetic cases and is attributed to an excessively indulgent lifestyle. The latter is completely manageable and even reversible by simply shifting to a cleaner, more alkaline-forming diet and an active lifestyle. According to the International Diabetes Federation, there is an estimated 193 million people globally, or close to half of all adults currently living with diabetes, who are unaware of their disease. Most of these cases are type 2 diabetes. If you’re unsure if you’re at risk for Type 2 diabetes, check out this simple self-assessment test.
KEEPING HEALTH IN CHECK
Bergara, the country manager for Intersoft Inc., shares that eating mostly plant-based food with reduced rice and bread (opting for black rice and sourdough or rye bread) has worked well in keeping his blood sugar regulated. Apart from eating mostly whole foods, he also avoids refined carbohydrates like pastries, white rice, pasta and bread completely and takes his coffee black. For those who are not ready to give up meat, he recommends moderating animal-based proteins. To keep himself in high spirits, Bergara challenges himself with new endeavors saying "I enroll in Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) regularly, engage in a new sport or learn something new every year, reinvent myself and see myself with a new skill.” A man of many hats, Bergara shares one of his most recent activities is his training for K9 Search and Rescue Handler together with his dog. For the past six years, Bergara has been active in running marathons and joining triathlon races under Team Triabetics, a triathlon team of diabetics. The triathlete couldn’t stress more that having diabetes should not limit one to having a “cared” life, which to him is “living life like a sickly diabetic, lazy, cozy and not active.”
LIVING BEST LIFE WITH DIABETES
As a health advocate, he encourages especially those who don’t have a clean bill of health to not let it hinder them from pursuing their goals. “We engage in triathlon to show diabetics like us can have a life, an active lifestyle just like a normal being who has no condition as diabetes,” Bergara shares. Bergara is a living proof that having an auto-immune disease as limiting as diabetes does not have to get in the way of living your best life. He turned his auto-immune disorder into his motivation to excel in sports and inspire others to live healthier lives.