Diabetes Nutrition

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Last updated: June 3, 2019

Having diabetes means thinking differently about food and nutrition. This can seem challenging sometimes, but it becomes a bit more manageable once you learn the facts.

There are several forms of diabetes. Diabetes can occur at any age. Insulin is a hormone produced by special cells, called beta cells, in the pancreas, an organ located in the area behind your stomach. Insulin is needed to move blood sugar (glucose) into cells, where it is stored and later used for energy. In pt. with diabetes, these cells produce little or no insulin.

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Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of going into the cells. The body is unable to use this glucose for energy. This leads to an increase in Blood sugar. This sugar out side of the cell is toxic! According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), healthy eating can make it easier to stay within your blood-sugar target range. It also may delay and help manage the complications of diabetes.

It’s also a good idea to see a registered dietitian who can help you with a food plan that’s right for you.Keep in mind that regular physical activity is important in managing your diabetes as well. Carbohydrates are your body’s main energy source.

Experts recommend that about half of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates. Tracking how many carbohydrates you eat—along with setting a maximum each day—will help you keep your blood sugar within the target range. Good sources of starch include vegetables such as potatoes, green peas, and corn. Grains such as oats, barley, and rice also are high in starch.These foods tend to be high in vitamins and minerals.

To get the fiber you need, aim for foods such as beans, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain products. Fiber can help slow the rise of blood sugar, making it easier to stay within your blood-glucose target range. Soluble fiber, the kind found in foods such as oats, apples, and citrus fruits, also may help lower cholesterol. The occasional sweet treat may be fine for special occasions, but in general you should keep these to a minimum.Sweets often have fewer vitamins and minerals than more healthful foods.

Some fat in the diet is essential, but it’s best to go for the “healthy” unsaturated fats found in nuts, vegetable oils, olives, and avocados. Non-fried fish such as salmon, mackerel, and albacore tuna is another good source, It contains healthy omega-3 fat. Experts recommend that less than 7% of your total calorie intake should come from saturated fats. They are found in full-fat dairy products such as ice cream, sour cream, and cheese, as well as meats, chicken skin, and bacon.Trans fats are present in margarine, shortening, and many processed packaged goods such as crackers and chips. People with diabetes generally should try to get the same amount of protein in their diet as those in the general population, which is 15% to 20% of total calories.

High-protein diets have been in the news a lot lately. But there’s no evidence they result in weight loss in the long term for people with diabetes or anyone else. Also, the long-term effects of a high-protein diet on kidney function in people with diabetes is Alcohol is a source of extra calories with few nutrients.

If adults with diabetes choose to drink alcohol, daily intake should be moderate. Moderate means 1 drink per day or less for women and 2 drinks per day or less for men. OPPS! You can try a simple strategy for healthy nutrition from the ADA called “Create Your Plate. ” This will help you figure out which foods to eat and how much. Use a dinner plate, draw an imaginary line down the middle of the plate, then divide the left side of your plate once more into 2 equal sections. Now you have 3 sections, 2 small and 1 large.

Try to fill the largest section with non-starchy vegetable such as spinach, carrots, lettuce, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes or cukes. In a small section should be your starchy food such as whole grain bread, rice, pasta, peas, potatoes, corn, lima beans, lowfat chips or pretzels. In the other small section place low fat meat such as deck of cards size piece of chicken, tuna, salmon, cod, lean beef, or pork, or go with high protein meat substitutes such as tofu, eggs or low fat cheese. Also add a lowfat drink and piece of fruit for dessert.Getting in this habit of organizing your meals can help make healthful eating easier.

The most fundamental component of the diabetes treatment plan for all patients with type II diabetes is medical nutrition therapy. Specific goals of nutrition therapy in type II diabetes are to Achieve and maintain as near-normal blood glucose levels as possible by balancing food intake with physical activity, supplemented by oral hypoglycemic agents or insulin as needed. Help patients attain and maintain a reasonable body weight. Promote overall health through optimal nutrition and lifestyle behaviors.Because no single dietary approach is appropriate for all patients, meal plans and diet modifications should be individualized to meet a patient’s unique needs and lifestyle. Accordingly, any nutrition intervention should be based on a thorough assessment of a patient’s typical food intake and eating habits and should include an evaluation of current nutritional status. Some patients with mild-to-moderate diabetes can be effectively treated with an appropriate balance of diet modification and exercise as the sole therapeutic intervention, particularly if their fasting blood glucose level is < 200 mg/dL.The majority of patients, however, will require pharmacologic intervention in addition to diet and exercise.

Dietary changes do not have to be dramatic to produce clinically important results in terms of lowering blood glucose and lipid levels. Regular monitoring of blood glucose, HgA1c, lipid levels, blood pressure, and body weight serves as an ongoing assessment of the nutrition intervention. A registered dietitian who is familiar with the current principles and recommendations for managing diabetes may be consulted after a patient is diagnosed with diabetes.This health-care professional can be an essential member of the diabetes management team and performs valuable functions: Conducts initial assessment of nutritional status: Diet history Lifestyle Eating habits Provides patient education regarding: The basic principles of diet therapy for diabetes Meal planning Problem-solving techniques for changing eating behaviors Develops an individualized meal plan: Emphasizing one or two priorities Minimizing changes from the patient’s usual diet (to encourage compliance) Provides follow-up assessment of the meal plan to: Determine effectiveness in terms of glucose and lipid control and weight loss.Make necessary changes based on weight loss, activity level, or changes in medication Provides ongoing patient education and support. Helping patients learn to adjust their meal plans for various situations. Body Weight Considerations Weight loss frequently is a primary goal of nutrition therapy because 80% to 90% of people with type II diabetes are obese.

Calorie restriction and weight loss, even as small as 5% to 10% of body weight, can result in: Improved glucose control Increased sensitivity to insulin Lower lipid levels and blood pressure The need for a corresponding lowering of the dosage of antidiabetic medications. Weight loss and subsequent weight maintenance can be the most difficult and challenging part of managing diabetes. Therefore, emphasis should be placed on achieving and maintaining normal blood glucose control as the goal of nutrition therapy, using nutritionally balanced meal lans that promote gradual weight loss as a means to achieve this metabolic goal. A reasonable approach that provides a combination of the following strategies increases the chances of a successful outcome: Modest caloric restriction Spreading caloric intake throughout the day Increased physical activity Behavior modification techniques for changing eating habits and attitudes and promoting healthy, long-term lifestyle behaviors Psychosocial support. Nutrition therapy focuses on distributing calorie and carbohydrate intake throughout the day to achieve optimal glucose control.

The pattern of spreading out calories and carbohydrates between meals and snacks is individualized based on results of self-monitoring of blood glucose. Calorie Intake Adult calorie needs vary according to age, activity level, and desired weight change. A nutritionally balanced diet is as important for individuals with diabetes as for nondiabetics. Diet prescriptions for those with diabetes need to take into account the higher prevalence of hyperlipidemia, atherosclerosis, and hypertension in this population.

And always remember “you are what you eat” so eat right!

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