The Value of Seeing a Dietitian to Assist in the Management of Diabetes
Diabetes – The Basics
Diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot maintain healthy levels of glucose in the bloodstream. In all types of diabetes, glucose cannot enter the cells of the body, so it begins to build up in the blood, and too much glucose in your blood may cause many different health problems.
Glucose provides energy for all our cells in our body and is derived from the carbohydrate we consume. Glucose is released into our bloodstream by the breakdown of carbohydrates from the foods we eat and drink.
We also need insulin, a hormone produced by our pancreas, which regulates our body’s blood glucose level (BGL) and allows the glucose in our blood to enter our cells and fuel our body.
There are different types of diabetes; in Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin naturally. So, people with type 1 diabetes need to test their blood glucose levels regularly each day and rely on supplemental insulin every day to replace what their body isnʼt producing, to ensure their blood glucose levels remain within a healthy range.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
For people living with type 2 diabetes, either their body becomes resistant to the insulin they produce, or their body gradually reduces the production of insulin to control their blood glucose levels. Either way, without enough effective insulin, the blood glucose levels will rise above normal levels. High levels of glucose in the blood can eventually cause damage to blood vessels and nerves. Small blood vessels like those that deliver blood to the kidneys and eyes are particularly susceptible to damage in people with poorly managed diabetes.
Blood glucose levels normally range between 4 and 6 mmol/L (fasting). People with diabetes should aim to achieve blood glucose levels as near as possible to the normal range in order to avoid short and long term diabetes complications.
Individual blood glucose targets should be discussed with your diabetes health professional team. Well managed BGL’s can help you reduce your risk of complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, eye and/or foot problems, and circulation issues.
Diabetes and Diet
What is a healthy, balanced diet for diabetes?
There is no specific diet for diabetes, however, the foods you eat not only make a difference to how you manage your diabetes, but also to how well you feel and how much energy you have for day to day activity.
It is important to eat regular meals each day particularly if you are taking medications. Skipping meals can affect your blood glucose levels and leave you feeling unwell.
A healthy diet is an essential part of diabetes management as it will help to control blood glucose levels and achieve a healthy weight.
It is important that any dietary advice is tailored to your individual needs.
An Accredited Practising Dietitian will consider your personal health and lifestyle influences and guide you with up to date knowledge around dietary choices and diabetes management.
Some common dietary myths which are not correct include:
- People with diabetes should eliminate all food containing carbohydrate
- People with diabetes need to avoid all sugar completely
- People with diabetes need to eat mostly foods high in protein and fat.
However, evidence shows that people living with diabetes may need to modify the following:
It is beneficial to increase the amount of dietary fibre eaten each day. Fibre has many beneficial health effects. It will assist you with regularity and evidence suggests that soluble fibre (found in foods such as beans, fruit and oats) may help to control blood glucose levels. Choose high fibre loaves of bread, cereals, fruit and vegetables each day. https://nutritionaustralia.org/fact-sheets/fibre/
Foods containing carbohydrate include bread, rice, pasta, noodles, breakfast cereal, potato, corn, legumes, fruit, milk and yoghurt. Carbohydrate foods may be eaten with each meal, but the type and amount need to be individualised for you.
The carbohydrate-containing foods that help maintain blood glucose level control are those which are digested and absorbed slowly into the bloodstream. These are foods with a low glycaemic index (GI).
There are different types of fat, and the type and amount that we eat are important.
Foods containing unsaturated fats are a healthier choice than foods high in saturated fats. It may be necessary to change your diet and reduce the number of foods containing saturated fats and replace them with foods containing mono-unsaturated or polyunsaturated fats and oils.
So you can understand why it is very important to involve health professionals with the knowledge to assist you to manage your health condition.
Dietitians are qualified and experienced to assist the management of chronic health conditions including Diabetes.
Living with diabetes
Regular physical activity is important in managing diabetes. Try to be active each day as this can assist with blood glucose control by helping muscles to be more sensitive to the uptake of glucose from the bloodstream.
Diabetes and your emotions
Diabetes doesn’t just affect you physically, it can affect your emotions. Living with diabetes can be difficult. There are so many factors to consider and it can be stressful knowing what is best for you, but you shouldn’t put your life on hold.
If you have concerns and would like assistance to manage your diabetes or other health condition, please contact the Dietitians at Revive Health and Happiness for an appointment.
We are here to help you live well with your condition. We can provide professional advice and practical guidance and emotional support to help you manage your diabetes and stay healthy.
Book now at Revive Health and Happiness: https://clientportal.powerdiary.com/clientportal/f6d48b9d-e3ff-46cf-804c-93744d950bfb
Wendy Vivian, Accredited Practising Dietitian