When we talk about Diabetes, carbohydrates and insulin are almost always mentioned.
Carbohydrates are an important nutrient found in a variety of food. When we eat carbohydrate food, our body takes the carbohydrates and then breaks it down into glucose – a type of sugar that is used for fuel for our body.
In order for the body to use glucose as fuel, a hormone called insulin is required. Without enough insulin, glucose accumulates in our blood causing high blood glucose levels and inherently results in our body not having enough energy to function properly.
A prolonged high level of glucose in the blood can cause damage to the blood vessels and nerves. Therefore, it is important to keep our blood glucose level within the recommended range.
The diversity of diabetes
Did you know there are different types of diabetes and that diet plays a large role in each of them?
Pre-diabetes can be classified as Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG) and Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT). It occurs when your blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Symptoms are not always obvious, therefore many individuals with pre-diabetes often go undiagnosed. If you are unsure about your case, please consult your doctor.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s own immune system destroys the cells that make insulin. Therefore, the body becomes unable to produce enough insulin to utilise the glucose that is in our bloodstream.
Type 2 diabetes
In Type 2 diabetes insulin can usually be produced by the body, however the amount might not be enough or the insulin produced is not working properly. Without insulin doing its job, glucose build-up in the blood causes high blood glucose levels, which could lead to complications.
Gestational diabetes occurs when a mother’s body is unable to cope with the increased level of hormones produced during pregnancy. The increase in hormones is known to block the action of insulin, in turn making the conversion of glucose as an energy source becoming insufficient.
It is common that gestational diabetes resolves once the baby is born, however the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life is increased. As such we recommend maintaining a healthy eating lifestyle post pregnancy to minimise the risk.
How a dietitian could help you
- Learn about carbohydrate and other diet-related factors to improve your diabetes control
- Learn about carbohydrate counting to give you the flexibility of when and how much to eat
- Achievable and sustainable weight loss advice
- Personalised dietary advice to optimise overall health and wellbeing
- How to read and understand food labels