Diabetes occurs when you have high blood sugar levels due to insulin deficiency or insufficiency. Food is able to significantly help treat diabetes as blood sugar levels are influenced by what we eat and our weight status.
Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that affects the way your body processes blood sugar (glucose). There are three main types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes:
This type of diabetes is caused by the autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. As a result, people with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin injections or use an insulin pump to manage their blood sugar levels.
Type 2 diabetes:
This is the most common form of diabetes, and it occurs when your body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin or when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to keep up with the body’s needs. Type 2 diabetes can often be managed through lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, eating a healthy diet, and increasing physical activity. Some people with type 2 diabetes may also need to take oral medications or insulin injections.
This type of diabetes occurs during pregnancy and typically goes away after the baby is born. However, women who have had gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Diabetes can lead to serious health complications, such as heart disease, nerve damage, blindness, and kidney damage, if it is not properly managed. It is important for people with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar levels by eating a healthy diet, and being physically active.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
The symptoms of diabetes can vary depending on the type of diabetes and the severity of the condition. Some common symptoms of diabetes include:
- Increased thirst and frequent urination: When blood sugar levels are high, the body tries to get rid of the excess sugar by flushing it out of the body through the urine. This can lead to increased thirst and the need to urinate more frequently.
- Extreme hunger: High blood sugar levels can cause the body to become dehydrated, leading to feelings of extreme hunger.
- Fatigue: High blood sugar levels can interfere with the body’s ability to use insulin effectively, which can cause fatigue and weakness.
- Blurred vision: High blood sugar levels can cause changes in the shape of the lens in the eye, leading to blurred vision.
- Slow-healing cuts and infections: High blood sugar levels can impair the body’s ability to fight infections and heal wounds.
- Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet: Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves, leading to numbness or tingling in the extremities.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a healthcare provider for an evaluation. Early diagnosis and treatment of diabetes can help prevent or delay the development of complications.
How can a dietitian help treat diabetes?
Seeing a dietitian can be extremely beneficial for individuals with diabetes. An Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) is a healthcare professional who is trained to provide personalized nutrition recommendations to help manage medical conditions, such as diabetes.
For people with diabetes, a dietitian can help create a healthy eating plan that helps manage blood sugar levels, promotes weight control, and provides adequate nutrition. They can also provide guidance on how to balance carbohydrates, protein, and fats in the diet to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and prevent complications.
A dietitian can also help individuals with diabetes understand how to make healthy food choices when eating out, when travelling, or during special events, such as holidays. Additionally, a dietitian can work with individuals to develop healthy habits, such as meal planning and portion control, to help them better manage their diabetes.
If you have diabetes, it is important to work with a healthcare provider and an APD to create an individualized plan that meets your specific needs and helps you manage your condition.
What about pre-diabetes?
Prediabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. It is a warning sign that a person is at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Prediabetes is typically diagnosed through a blood test, such as the fasting plasma glucose test (FPG) or the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). The good news is that prediabetes is often reversible, and many people can prevent or delay the progression to type 2 diabetes by making lifestyle changes, such as:
- Losing weight: Even a small amount of weight loss can improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels.
- Increasing physical activity: Seeing an exercise physiologist can assist with this.
- Eating a healthy diet: Our Accredited Practising Dietitians are able to help guide you on the right path to reversing pre-diabetes and preventing further complications.
- Quitting smoking: Smoking can damage blood vessels and impair insulin sensitivity.
If you have prediabetes, it’s important to see a healthcare provider and make the necessary lifestyle changes to prevent or delay the progression to type 2 diabetes. With early diagnosis and appropriate intervention, you can help reduce your risk of developing serious health complications.
It is never too late on your journey to receive help from our helpful dietitians and nutritionists. They provide simple, easy and realistic strategies that are tailored to you to assist with the management of your diabetes and prevent other health conditions.