Nutrition and diabetes

Nutrition and diabetes

This article was medically reviewed by M.Pharm, Marko Tanaskovic on August 12, 2018. To read more about an author, click here.

Although the "root cause" of diabetes is still unknown, it is known that improper nutrition and obesity are major risk factors for the manifestation of this disease. That is why diabetes occurs more often in countries where the standard of living is higher and where people can afford plenty of food. It is anticipated that in the next five years, 300 million diabetics will exist in the world.

Proper nutrition is most important in the treatment and prevention of diabetes. Therapeutic treatment of diabetes usually begins with the diet in order to prevent the diabetes from getting worse, as long as it's a mild form of diabetes. In the case of medium and severe form of diabetes, proper medication must be applied.

Whatever form of diabetes you have, it is important to know the nutritional guidelines for diabetes.

Here are some tips:

  • Carbohydrates should make up 50-60 % of your total daily energy intake (as well as in healthy individuals), but with limited intake of simple sugars (candies)
  • Proteins should make up 10-20% of your total daily energy intake
  • Fats should make up 30% of your total daily energy intake
  • Dietary fiber should be taken in amounts of not less than 30 grams per day

Nutritional goals in diabetics

The diet of every diabetic should aim for the following goals:

  • Adjusting their diet to the therapeutic requirements
  • Achieving adequate weight and its maintenance
  • Providing all the necessary nutrients
  • Maintaining blood glucose levels within the normal range
  • Maintaining cholesterol and triglyceride levels within the normal range
  • Preventing complications

Differences in nutrition in diabetes Type 1 and Type 2

The differences in the diet of diabetic patients with Type 1 and Type 2 are shown in the following table:

Goal Diabetes Type 1 Diabetes Type 2
Reducing calorie intake No Yes
Increasing the number of meals during the day Always Sometimes
Pinpoint mealtimes Mandatory Optional
Limiting intake of carbohydrates and fats Mandatory Optional
Additional food intake when you are physically active Mandatory Optional
Additional eating of food to prevent hypoglycemia Mandatory Optional

As you can see from the table, Type 1 diabetes patients must strictly follow certain rules. You must keep track of the times when you eat, how much candy you eat, how much fat you eat, and you have to adjust your physical activity to the insulin dose. If you are overweight, you need to urgently lose weight. Diet for losing weight in diabetics should be planned individually according to the needs of each individual, because not everyone has the same needs and habits. Usually your doctor determines a target weight loss and recommend a proper diet for you. It is important that you have regular check-ups with your doctor and to regularly control your blood sugar while you are on a diet.

Although it sounds illogical, the fact is that a high content of carbohydrates in an everyday diet increases the number of insulin receptors and utilization of glucose in the cell, which has a very beneficial effect. This does not mean you need to eat sweets (the so-called simple sugars), but it means that you should eat fruit that is rich in complex sugars.

For diabetics, the intake of dietary fiber is very important. Dietary fiber reduces the absorption of glucose and reduces its concentration in the blood. This helps you to reduce blood glucose levels. They act by absorbing water to increase their weight and thereby accelerate the digestion and passage of food through the digestive tract. They can also help you achieve your goals in terms of weight loss and with lowering cholesterol levels.

When compiling menus for diabetics, a doctor needs to pay attention to the glycemic index of food (the ability of certain foods to increase the level of glucose in the blood). For example, ice cream has a very high glycemic index.

Usually, there is no need to take dietary supplements (vitamins and minerals) in diabetics, because all nutrients can be provided by eating proper food. The only thing that is recommended for diabetics is taking magnesium supplements.

Information on this website are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.

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