Diabetes is a condition where there is too much glucose (a type of sugar) in the blood.
There are five main types of diabetes
Type 1 – this is an auto-immune condition in which the immune system is activated to destroy the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. As a result the pancreas produces ver little insulin or stops producing altogether. People with Type 1 Diabetes need to administer daily insulin injections. Type 1 diabetes most commonly occurs in children or teenagers.
Type 2 – occurs when the pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin and/or the body does not respond to the insulin properly.
Gestational – occurs when women who have not previously been diagnosed diabetes exhibit high blood glucose levels during pregnancy (most commonly occurs during their third trimester). If Gestational Diabetes is controlled early, the risks to the mother and baby are lowered, such that the diabetes resolves after pregnancy.
Steroid Induced - as the name suggests, it is diabetes induced by long-term and excess use of steroidal medications.
LADA - this stands for Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults. This described the slow onset of Type 1 diabetes in adults.
Insulin is a hormone which is used to carry glucose (sugar) from the blood stream into the body’s cells to provide them with energy. This glucose comes from carbohydrate foods. There are two types of carbohydrate – starch and sugars.
Food containing starch
Grain foods, such as bread, rice, pasta, cereals, flour
Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes (all types) and corn
Legumes, lentils and pulses
Food containing sugars
Foods containing natural sugars:
Dairy products (namely milk, yoghurt and soft cheeses)contain natural sugars
Foods containing refined sugars:
Soft drinks, sports drinks, confectionery, bakery goods, desserts and most breakfast cereals
It is not necessary to avoid carbohydrate foods when you have diabetes. What is important is to not have too much at one time, and to choose types of carbohydrates that are slowly digested (low GI), so blood glucose levels do not rise excessively. This is where a Dietitian can be very helpful. We educate you on carbohydrate serves and how to distribute them across the day to avoid peaks and troughs in your blood glucose levels. In addition, we teach you how to read food labels correctly (and with ease), as well as how to pick low GI foods.
Diabetes can be silent
Many people don't realise they have Diabetes. And many people with existing Diabetes ignore the potential chronic health risks if they do not mange their Diabetes well enough with nutrition and medication. Uncontrolled Type 2 Diabetes can turn into Type 1 Diabetes if oral medications are no longer effective and insulin injections are required. When Diabetes is controlled with nutrition, it is possible, for some people, to stop the need for medication (your Doctor will decide this).
Pre-diabetes is also known as Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT). This describes the stage before Type 2 diabetes sets in. Many people diagnosed with IGT who seek advice from a Dietitian early, can reverse the signs and avoid or delay the onset of Type 2 Diabetes.
Dietary advice for diabetes and pre-diabetes is to slow down the progression of the disease, and if you are determined, in some cases we have seen the condition reversed. Taking early action and preventing the onset of diabetes is a key to success. It is a lifestyle change as much as a change to your diet.