Carbohydrates in the food we eat are broken down into individual glucose (sugar) units in the gut and absorbed into the blood. Insulin is a hormone which helps the cells in the body take up glucose from the blood. Diabetes is a condition where there is a lack of, or the body does not respond to, insulin, so the level of glucose in the blood stays high after a meal. Having high blood glucose levels increases the risk of kidney disease, eye problems, stroke and problems with blood circulation.
Type 1 diabetes vs Type 2 diabetes
There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes is a genetic condition where the body does not produce insulin and Type 2 diabetes is a condition where the body does produce insulin but the cells in the body don’t respond to the insulin. People with type 2 diabetes may end up requiring insulin if their body stops producing it, but early intervention and good control can minimise the likelihood of this happening.
Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes
- Family history of diabetes
- Insulin resistance
- Age (40 years and over)
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Gestational diabetes
- At-risk ethnicity eg. Hispanic, Asian, African-American
Symptoms of diabetes
Many people with diabetes don’t experience any symptoms, which is why it is important to have regular check-ups with your GP. Some of the symptoms people with type 2 diabetes may experience include:
- Feeling more thirsty than usual
- Urinating more than usual
- Feeling tired
- Feeling more hungry than usual
- Blurred vision
- Mood swings
- Wounds that heal slowly
How do I manage my diabetes?
People who are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes can usually manage their condition through diet and lifestyle changes. Preventing weight gain and enjoying regular exercise are essential components of diabetes management. If left unmanaged however, people with Type 2 diabetes may require medication and insulin injections. The following dietary changes can help to manage your diabetes:
- Reduce the amount of less heart-healthy fats in your diet, choose more heart-healthy fats instead
- Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
- Space your carbohydrate intake out over the day
- Increase the amount of dietary fibre in your diet
- Choose low GI (slowly absorbed) carbohydrates
Accredited Practising Dietitians are qualified to assist people in managing medically-diagnosed nutrition conditions. For information about booking a nutrition consultation with an Allied Nutrition dietitian, please click HERE or phone us to discuss your requirements.