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Diabetes

 

After we have foods containing carbohydrates (starch or sugars), our bodies break it down into smaller glucose molecules. These flow through the bloodstream and as a result our blood glucose levels naturally rise after a meal. The hormone insulin is responsible for delivering glucose from the bloodstream to muscles for use, thus returning blood glucose levels to normal.

 

Diabetes is a chronic condition where levels of blood glucose remain high. Prolonged high blood glucose levels damage nerve cells resulting in serious long term consequences such as poor wound healing and impaired eye, heart and kidney health.  

 

There are two main types of diabetes and although there is currently no cure for either type, they can be well managed.  

 

Type 1 Diabetes  

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the cells that make insulin in the pancreas are destroyed, resulting in no insulin being made. It generally affects younger children and its onset and symptoms are quite noticeable, especially increased thirst, urination and weight loss. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is vital.      

 

Type 2 Diabetes  

Type 2 Diabetes is more common and is also known as a ‘lifestyle condition’. It is more likely to develop in people who are inactive and/or overweight. It is most common in mature adults however with growing rates of childhood obesity, young adults are now being diagnosed. The main difference between the two types of Diabetes is that individuals with Type 2 Diabetes are still able to make their own insulin.

 

Type 2 Diabetes develops when:

 

  • The pancreas becomes unable to make sufficient amounts of insulin,  
  • Insulin resistance develops where the cells become resistant to its action, or   
  • A combination of both scenarios.      

 

Management options for Diabetes

The only treatment for Type 1 Diabetes is insulin injections to absorb glucose from foods. Your Health Professional will be able to advise on an appropriate insulin regimen that suits your lifestyle and needs.   For individuals with Type 2 Diabetes, it can be managed with diet and lifestyle interventions. Medications and or insulin injections may be required for longer-term management.      

 

Weight Management  

Losing 5-10% of weight, particularly from the waist can greatly improve insulin resistance and therefore blood glucose control. It can also be sufficient to deter the onset of diabetes in un-diagnosed individuals. Reducing your intake of high sugar and high fat treat foods will assist in reducing your blood glucose levels as well as excess weight.  

 

Diet  

Carbohydrate rich foods are an important source of energy and nutrition, however too much will make it difficult to maintain good blood glucose control. Your health professional will be able to tailor your diet to ensure that you have small amounts of carbohydrates throughout the day.  

 

Exercise  

Physical activity stimulates your muscles to contract and sends signals to increase glucose uptake (to fuel your activity). Exercise not only helps to restore normal blood glucose levels, but in turn improves insulin sensitivity.      

 

Disclaimer  

The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.      

 

Sources:  

Better Health Channel http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Diabetes_explained?open

Diabetes Australia http://www.diabetesvic.org.au/about-diabetes