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Diabetes: What does diet have to do with it?

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Diabetes: What does diet have to do with it?

In Australia one person is diagnosed with diabetes every 5 minutes, impacting roughly 1.2 million people.

Nearly half of those living with diabetes experience poor mental health related to their diabetes, and 4 in 5 have experienced stigma due to their condition.

This year the aim is to create awareness of stigma and mental wellbeing for people living with diabetes; so to bring you up to speed, we’ve broken down some of the key facts!

What is it?

Diabetes is a chronic condition which develops when there is too much glucose in the blood (high blood glucose levels). Glucose (a type of sugar) is our body’s main energy source. When we eat foods containing carbohydrates the body breaks it down into glucose which is transported in the bloodstream to our cells where it can then be used for energy.

In order for glucose to enter the body's cells we need insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas which acts like a key to allow glucose to enter the cells). In the case of diabetes your body either doesn’t make insulin, doesn’t make enough insulin, the insulin your body is making doesn’t work properly, or a combination of these.

What are the different types?

There are 3 main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system stops the pancreas from producing insulin and this must be replaced by injecting insulin. Type 1 Diabetes is a life-long condition, usually diagnosed in childhood.

  • Type 2 Diabetes: is where the body produces some insulin but either not enough or it doesn’t work well enough to regulate blood glucose levels. Type 2 Diabetes is the most common type and can often be managed by lifestyle changes, including diet, physical activity and weight (insulin injection/medication may also be needed).

  • Gestational diabetes: is a type that occurs during pregnancy. The body still produces insulin but other hormones produced during pregnancy get in the way and the body is less responsive to insulin leading to high blood glucose levels. This type can often be managed by diet and exercise (insulin injection/medication may also be needed).

What does diet have to do with it?

Diet plays an important role in the management of diabetes. The main consideration is regulating the intake of carbohydrates, including what type, when these foods are eaten and how much is eaten.

For example, eating small regular meals and spreading carbohydrate intake across the day can help in regulating blood glucose levels. The type of carbohydrate foods eaten is also important, including their glycaemic index or GI (a measure of how fast or slow the food is digested and enters the bloodstream).

Low GI foods (e.g. oats, wholegrain bread, legumes) enter the bloodstream at a slower rate and have less of an impact on blood glucose levels than high GI foods (e.g. white bread, processed grains). For individualised advice it is recommended to see your GP and an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD).

You can find out more about diabetes, the different types, and where to access support from the Diabetes Australia website.

Your Personal Healthy Eating Quiz

What you eat or don’t eat affects how you look, feel and perform. Take our short quiz to find out what foods you could introduce to help you be your best.

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What is healthy eating?

Eating healthy is making sure you enjoy a wide variety of foods from each of the five major food groups daily, in the amounts recommended. The five major food groups as recommended by the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating are:

  1. vegetables and legumes/bean
  2. fruit
  3. lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes/beans
  4. grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties
  5. milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat.

Foods are grouped together because they provide similar amounts of key nutrients and eating a variety of foods from the list above helps to promote good health and reduce the risk of disease.

How do I improve my diet?

If you want to improve your diet you have come to the right place. By completing the Healthy Eating Quiz you’ll receive instant personalised feedback and a report on your diet quality to highlight any areas where you can improve your overall eating habits. Your score is based on the frequency and variety of the foods consumed from the five major food groups mentioned above. No Money No Time can help you improve your score by providing tips, goals and suggestions. On top of this we will provide quick, cheap and healthy recipes as well as credible answers to diet hacks, myths and FAQ’s.

Is my diet healthy?

Dietary habits are different between people. Some people choose to follow a particular diet (i.e., Keto diet or vegan diet) while some have to make changes due to certain food restrictions or health conditions. If you want to know if what you usually eat is healthy, then do the Healthy Eating Quiz today to give you the answers in less than 10 minutes.

Why is healthy eating important?

Your HEQ score and personalised feedback report is based on the frequency and variety of healthy core foods you usually eat. This is important because no single food contains all the nutrients we need to stay healthy. Some foods are higher in nutrients than others and people who have a lot of variety in the foods they eat are more likely to be healthy and to stay healthy. In other words, if you can eat a large variety of vegetables as opposed to only 2-3 types of vegetables, the benefits are much greater. This type of diet also helps you to feel better, think better and perform better during your usual daily activities.

Take the Healthy Eating Quiz