By Ajee’lon Boyd, Keene State College Dietetic Intern
Diabetes is commonly understood as a condition in which your body is not receptive to, or properly using, insulin to uptake glucose into the cells. It may also mean that your body makes little to no insulin. If you have diabetes, your body’s ability to break down glucose to be used as a source of energy is impaired.
Although there are multiple forms of diabetes (pre-diabetes, Type I, Type II and gestational), they all have an insulin and glucose component, we will be focusing on pre-diabetes, Type I, and Type II diabetes in this post.
This post will cover the basics of the different types of diabetes including how the condition develops, the types of treatment and preventative measures.
Pre-diabetes is when a person has higher than normal blood sugar levels, but not to the extent that they would be considered a diabetic. Prediabetes can lead to Type 2 diabetes, which can cause issues with eyesight and function (retinopathy), kidney disease and other complications. If a diagnosis of prediabetes is given, diet and lifestyle modifications can be sufficient to avoid the diagnosis of diabetes. If you are concerned about your blood sugar levels or family history, consult with your physician.
Diabetes: Type 1
Type 1 diabetes, is caused by an autoimmune dysfunction in the body, where the body attacks itself. This causes the pancreas to produce insufficient or little to no insulin, therefore it is very difficult for the cells to uptake glucose. This type of diabetes is seen in younger adults, adolescents and children. Insulin will be required to treat Type 1 diabetes. Consult with your physician and registered dietitian to create the best plan for you and your family.
Diabetes: Type 2
Type 2 diabetes can be reversed, while Type 1 diabetes cannot. This form of diabetes is most commonly seen in middle-aged to older aged adults, although it is becoming more prevalent among a younger-aged population. Type 2 diabetes is treated with medicine and diet and lifestyle modifications. It is important to keep your blood sugar levels at a consistent and normal range to avoid spikes or drops in blood sugar levels. Speak with your physician for medication management and a registered dietitian for self-management strategies and lifestyle modifications.
If you have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes, it is important to work with your physician and a registered dietitian to develop a plan according to your individual needs.
The following general nutrition guidelines can help prevent diabetes but also help regulate your blood sugar levels and decrease harmful spikes and dips if you have Type 2 diabetes:
- Monitor your carbohydrate intake: Choose whole grain, high fiber options.
- Eat regularly while practicing portion control.
- Exercise or engage in physical activity on a regular and consistent basis.
- Maintain or achieve a healthy weight — speak with a registered dietitian and physician for an individualized plan.
- Drink water to stay hydrated instead of sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda.
- Reduce your intake of sodium and saturated fats to prevent heart disease.
Keep In Mind …
Diabetes can lead to the development of other illnesses and health concerns. More specifically, diabetic patients are at high risk of developing heart disease.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to regulate your blood sugar and adopt healthy lifestyle changes. An increase in physical activity can help assist with regulating blood glucose levels because it will help decrease the excess glucose that is circulating in the body and thus decrease your blood sugar levels. Healthy lifestyle changes can lead to weight loss, decreasing the possibility of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Consult with your physician and a registered dietitian if you think you are at risk of developing diabetes or if you have been diagnosed. They can assist with developing the best treatment plan for you.