Thursday, September 2, 2010

Controlling Diabetes with Food

Diabetes is a very serious disease that can be easier to manage when accompanied with healthy eating habits. Diabetes occurs when your body has trouble using glucose. This is a problem because glucose, or blood sugar, is the body’s main source of energy. Healthy eating habits are important whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes because they can prevent problems such as heart and kidney conditions.

There is no longer a set “diabetic diet”. People with diabetes simply need to follow the principles of healthy eating that apply to everyone. They need to also count their calorie consumption occasionally to maintain or lose weight based on doctor recommendation. There are four major nutrition factors that diabetics need to pay attention to: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and sodium.

Carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels. Although the type of carbohydrate can affect your blood sugar levels, the amount you eat is more important. People with diabetes should watch the amount of nutrient-dense carbohydrates they eat such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This will help control blood sugar levels and keep hunger away.

Keeping track of protein intake is very important. Protein intake needs to be moderate because according to the American Diabetes Association, protein intake higher than 20% can lead to kidney disease. To decrease the amount of protein in your body, eat smaller portions of protein and reduce the intake of saturated fat. This will keep you cholesterol level down.

Because most people with diabetes have unhealthy cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, the reduction of fat is very important. Fat should only account to 25-35% of your total calorie intake according to The National Cholesterol Education Program. Saturated fat should only take up 7% of the total calories. All the other fat taken in should be either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.

People with diabetes should not consume more than 2,300 mg a day according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. For people with higher blood pressure that number should be lowered to 1,500 mg.

When managing diabetes with food, pay attention to the different food groups. The six main groups, categorized based on the nutrients they provide and their effects on glucose levels, are: starches, vegetables, fruits, milk and yogurt, meat and meat substances, and fats. Try thinking of the foods in this order then it will be easier to put together healthier meals.

In order to help you plan out healthier meals try meeting with a certified diabetes educator (CDE) or a registered dietitian. Helping to get your diabetes under control could be as easy as having a healthy diet.

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