Glucose, a form of sugar carried in the bloodstream, is a vital source of energy. For the body to function efficiently, however, levels must be kept within narrow limits. Too much glucose in the blood indicates development of the ailment known as Diabetes. It’s symptoms are thirst, frequent urination due to excess glucose, weight loss, tiredness, recurrent infections, problems with vision, and, in severe cases, coma. Too little glucose, resulting in low blood sugar, or hypoglycaemia, can also result in a coma.
Diabetes takes two main forms:
Type I Diabetes or Insulin Dependent Diabetes (juvenile onset diabetes).
This usually develops in childhood, but it can develop at any age and often occurs where there is no family history of any form of diabetes. Type I Diabetes stems from an inability of the pancreas to produce insulin because of damaged or destroyed cells. This form of diabetes must be treated daily with insulin injections. Diet plays no part in causing Type I Diabetes, although breastfeeding may offer some protection against it developing. In susceptible individuals it can be sparked by viral infections such as a previous attack of mumps or German Measles.
Type II Diabetes or Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes.
As it’s former description late onset diabetes implies, this tends to be much more common among older people and affects some 10 percent of the population over the age of 60. Diabetes symptoms can be misinterpreted as menopause in older women. Type II Diabetes apparently results from impaired secretion of insulin or a resistance to the hormone by the body’s tissues. It can often be treated by diet alone, although some of those affected need medication. People need insulin injections if other methods fail to control their condition.
Diabetes and Diet
Carbohydrates (surgery or starchy foods such as chocolates, cakes, biscuits, white bread or fruit and jam) send up the levels of sugar in the blood. Under normal circumstances, a proper balance is soon restored through the action of insulin a hormone produced by the pancreas.
If the body’s output of insulin is too low, or the insulin produced is ineffective, the blood glucose remains high. This is how hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) is caused. Excess glucose in the blood is excreted in the urine and people with diabetes can test their own urine with reagent strips.
Treatment always involves routine tests and establishing an individualised meal plan that encourages a wide variety of foods that are low in fat and sugar.
Diabetes Diet Guidelines
There are general dietary guidelines that people with diabetes can follow to help keep their blood sugar levels under control: