Diabetes and diet

Diabetes is a disease inflicted by your body's inability to convert blood glucose into energy. The level of blood glucose in your body is determined by the amount of carbohydrates you consume, so it is important to control your diet.

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Carbohydrates are the main nutrient humans need to produce energy. Ever wondered why runners chow down on pasta before a big race? It's because pasta is a perfect source of fast acting carbs which quickly transforms into sugar and gives the best energy benefits before a demanding race.

Carbs are broken down into glucose when they are being digested. The insulin helps process the glucose and send it off as energy. There are two main types of carbs. Starchy carbs and sugars:

Starchy carbs: includes foods such as pasta, bread, potatoes, noodles, rice and cereals
Sugars: includes foods such as table sugars (light brown, granulated, etc.), fruit sugars (known as fructose), and some dairy foods (lactose), and nutritive sweeteners such as sorbitol and maltitol.

How to manage your diabetes diet

A regular intake of carbohydrates is important because it fuels not only our bodies, but also our brains. Furthermore, choosing the high-fiber carbohydrates plays a significant role in keeping our gut healthy and last but not least, some carbs simply keep us full longer.

Everyone is different and depending on age, weight and activity level, the amount of carbs needed varies, but a rule of thumb is that the intake of carbs should make up roughly half of your total food and drink intake over the course of a week. These carbs should come mainly from the starchy type in order to maintain a healthy living. A small amount can come from sugars.

The diet of a type 1 diabetes patient is not much different than a regular healthy diet. The main difference is to be aware of how much a certain food affects your blood sugar and dosing the insulin accordingly. Carbohydrate counting is a popular, though time consuming way of managing the diet.

For type 2 diabetics, the diet might be more strict than a regular healthy diet. This is because type 2 diabetes is often associated with obesity and weight loss will be necessary if this is the case.

In general, it is recommended to eat as little processed food as possible and increase the intake of freshly prepared meals. Each meal should include a starchy carb and vegetables.

Source: Diabetes UK

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