Nutrition & Diabetes
About 1.1 million Dutch people suffer from diabetes mellitus, better known as diabetes. Most of them don’t even realize they have diabetes. Today we will discuss what role nutrition has on the body in diabetes patients and what you can do to better balance your blood sugar level.
Diabetes in a nutshell
When you consume carbohydrates, these carbohydrates are converted into glucose. This ends up in the blood, and is therefore called blood glucose or blood sugar. Glucose travels through the blood to other cells in the body, giving you energy. The pancreas produces the hormone insulin, which moves sugar from the blood to the cells. With diabetes, this process is disrupted.
What can you do if you already have diabetes?
Diet has a major impact on blood sugar levels in the body. If your diet contains too much or too little carbohydrates, this affects the blood sugar level and can lead to complications, such as kidney disease or cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, blood sugar can be regulated by, for example, medication, diet and exercise. For some it is useful to keep track of carbohydrates in the diet so that the medication can be adjusted accordingly.
Always discuss this with your dietitian.
Some tips that are extra important when you have diabetes
- Stick to the Wheel of Five as much as possible
- Divide portions of carbohydrates throughout the day to avoid large peaks and troughs, think of 3 main meals and 3 or 4 snacks
- Take as little added sugars as possible, such as cookies, candy and soft drinks. Added sugars can cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels and you want to prevent this. For drinks it is best to choose water or tea
- Eat enough vegetables and fruit, so: 200 grams of vegetables and 200 grams (2 pieces) of fruit. Fruit and vegetables are healthy products that contain carbohydrates
- Always choose whole-grain products over refined products, so whole-wheat bread, crackers and pasta instead of pastries, white bread or white pasta. Whole-grain products raise blood sugar less quickly than refined products
- Eat fish at least once a week, preferably fatty fish such as salmon
- Reduce your salt intake, don’t take more than 6 grams per day
- Don’t drink alcohol, as alcohol can cause hypoglycaemia
In addition to nutrition, exercise also has a positive effect on diabetes patients, discover more about it in this blog about Exercising with Diabetes?
If you are not sure how to watch your diet while having diabetes or if you are not sure if it is going in the right direction, always discuss this with your dietitian.