It’s no secret to anyone living with diabetes: diet is key to managing your symptoms. This is true for everyone, from patients living active lifestyles with type 1 diabetes, to seniors who rely on long-term care.
Have you ever wondered why doctors place so much emphasis on diet for diabetic patients? Do you know how diet affects your insulin levels? If you’re curious about cutting-edge research on the link between diet and living a healthy life with diabetes, read on!
1. Why Do I Need to Be Concerned?
If patients with diabetes don’t take concrete steps to regulate their blood sugar, their symptoms may worsen. Wound healing is of particular concern for diabetics, as elevated levels of blood glucose makes it more difficult for wounds to heal.
What’s more, anyone with diabetes can develop diabetic foot ulcers, whether they have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. In fact, 15% of people with diabetes end up developing diabetic foot ulcers, and 85% of those patients end up with lower limb amputations. But don’t panic — those are only in extreme cases, when diabetes is left untreated.
2. What’s the best diet for type 1 diabetes?
You’ve probably heard that processed, sugary foods increase the inflammation associated with diabetes. But there’s even more reason to focus on fresh, high-fiber foods like fruits and vegetables. A study from Monash University showed that fruits and vegetables sit for longer in the gut, creating fermentation and increasing your level of beneficial gut bacteria. This in turn reduces the inflammation associated with diabetes, and reduces the chance of pre-diabetic patients developing type 1 diabetes.
More recent studies have also explored the benefits of diets that incorporate some element of fasting. “Cycles of a fasting-mimicking diet and a normal diet essentially reprogrammed non-insulin-producing cells into insulin-producing cells,” says Valter Longo, the director of the Longevity Institute at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. But don’t just start skipping meals — it’s important to ask your physician what method of fasting you should try. There are fasting-mimicking diets that last only a short period of time, as well as special diet plans that allow you to reap the benefits of fasting without getting too hungry.
3. What Foods Should I Avoid?
Sugar is the most obvious culprit, but it’s not just sweets that contain loads of sugar. Anything processed is more likely to have more sugar, so stick with fresh foods wherever possible. High-fat foods can also make blood glucose levels spike — one study showed that pizza affects blood glucose levels for hours after consumption.
4. Besides Diet, What Else Can I Do?
Younger people with type 1 diabetes can also make sure to get a good amount of exercise to manage their symptoms. Studies have also shown that carefully choosing comfortable, cushioned footwear can help prevent diabetic foot ulcers — look out for anything that might chafe or cause a blister. Patients typically only notice these ulcers once they’ve formed a red sore of the bottom of the foot, and they can be quite uncomfortable.
By taking these healthy steps now, you can prepare for a long life of living a relatively symptom-free life with type 1 diabetes.
About the AUTHOR: Tracy Rairigh is a medical, business, and technical writer with a Writing in the Sciences Certificate from the University of Stanford Medical. She is also the owner of Rairigh Writing. With over 150 published articles in wound care, health and wellness and a degree in Engineering, she has a vast array of knowledge to pull from.