What is Type II Diabetes?

Diabetes is the fastest growing condition in Australia with more than 100,000 people being diagnosed with the condition each year. It occurs when there is too much glucose in the blood. A hormone called insulin is responsible for chaperoning glucose from the blood stream into cells, so when there isn’t enough insulin around, it results in the build up of glucose. This can happen when the pancreas stops producing insulin (Type I diabetes) or when the insulin can’t get to the blood stream efficiently enough (Type II diabetes).

The role of glucose is to fuel our body’s cells but when there’s too much it can overload the blood stream and result in complications such as poor eye sight or poor wound healing. Glucose is usually made from the digestion of foods that contain carbohydrate- either starch or sugars.

Healthy eating for people with diabetes

Avoid foods high in sugar

Foods high in sugar can raise your blood glucose levels, therefore it is important that you avoid large amounts of these foods. However, it is okay to eat a very small amount of sugar occasionally.

Eat regular meals

One of the main goals of managing diabetes is to maintain a constant supply of glucose to your blood stream so it is important to eat small, regular meals. Skipping meals creates havoc for your blood glucose levels and if you’re really having trouble maintaining good glucose control your Dietitian will teach you how to count carbohydrates to ensure an even distribution of carbohydrate throughout the day.

Glycemic Index (GI)

The Glycemic Index, or GI, ranks foods that contain carbohydrates from 1 to 100 according to how they affect our blood glucose levels.
Carbohydrate foods that break down quickly during digestion have a higher GI. This means they are more likely to raise blood glucose levels quickly. Carbohydrates that break down slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the blood stream, have a lower GI.

A good example is white bread versus multigrain bread. White bread is highly processed and easy for our bodies to break down and so the carbohydrates in the slice of white bread are digested quickly. Multigrain bread, however, will take more time for our body to digest due to the grains and so the carbohydrates are released at a slower rate over a longer period of time; therefore the slice of multigrain bread has a lower GI when compared to the slice of white bread.

Healthy Heart

Having diabetes also increases your risk of having a heart attack. Consequently, it is important to:
Maintain good cholesterol levels
Avoid foods high in salt such as chips or salted nuts.
Choose foods that are high in fibre (e.g. grainy breads, legumes, fruit and vegetables)
Eat fish at least twice per week.

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise is important to help lower your blood glucose levels. Aim for at least 45 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most days each week.

In addition to this, you should aim to do as much incidental exercise as possible. Incidental exercise includes things such as:
Taking the stairs instead of the lift
Parking your car at the back of the car park
Walking to the shops instead of driving.

Healthy Weight

Your weight has a significant effect on your diabetes. Studies have shown that if you are overweight, losing 10% of your body weight is enough to make significant improvements to your blood glucose control.
Avoid fad diets which cause you to lose weight, then regain it again.

The best way to lose weight is by making long-term lifestyle changes such as:
Increasing the amount of exercise that you do,
Reducing your portion sizes, and
Reducing the amount of treat foods that you eat.

If you would like more assistance with your diabetes, contact one of our experienced Nutrition Plus Dietitians.