November is National Diabetes Month.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food enter your cells to be used for energy. Sometimes your body doesn’t make enough—or any—insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn’t reach your cells. When blood sugar stays elevated for prolonged periods of time it can damage the kidneys, nerves, heart, and is linked to some types of cancer. There are different types of diabetes, but type 2 is the most common form. With type 2 diabetes your body makes enough insulin but cannot use it properly. Type 2 can be diagnosed at any age but it is most often detected in middle-aged and older adults. Other types of diabetes include type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disorder, and gestational diabetes, which can develop during pregnancy.
What Can I Eat?
Carbohydrate is another name for sugar. People with diabetes or prediabetes need to control the amount of carbohydrates they eat at each meal. However, carbohydrates should not be completely avoided since they are the body’s preferred fuel source. There are different kinds of carbohydrates depending on the type of food and how it is prepared. Choose complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, starchy vegetables, and unsweetened dairy products more often than simple sugars like sweets, sodas, and refined grains. It is best to pair carbohydrate-containing foods with sources of protein, such as strawberries with string cheese, grapes and almonds, or rice with chicken.
Written by Victoria Luera, Lone Star Circle of Care Registered Dietitian. Submitted by Ashley Wild.