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Nutrition News: Managing Diabetes

Charlyn Fargo on

November is National Diabetes Month, a month set aside to focus on this disease that affects the more than 34 million Americans who live with diabetes, both diagnosed and undiagnosed.

In all forms of diabetes (Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes), the body's ability to make or properly use insulin is affected. Insulin is a hormone that is made by the pancreas, and it helps your cells store and use energy from food. If you have diabetes, glucose collects in the blood but doesn't get transported into the cells. Thus, your body is not getting the energy it needs. Also, the high levels of glucose circulate throughout the body, damaging cells along the way. Diabetes increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke and may lead to kidney, eye and nerve damage.

The good news? Diabetes is manageable. While changing eating habits can be challenging, eating the right foods -- fiber and consistent carbohydrates at each meal -- can make a huge difference in glucose management. The goal is to maintain healthy blood sugar levels through diet along with proper medication and physical activity.

Here are some tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for those with diabetes and prediabetes.

-- Eat a variety of foods. Choose foods from each food group every day, and don't be afraid to try new foods.

-- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Fruit contains fiber, vitamins and minerals and can satisfy your sweet tooth. Include more non-starchy vegetables including leafy greens, asparagus, carrots and broccoli each day. Also, choose whole fruit more often and juice less often.

 

-- Choose healthy carbohydrates. Increase the amount of fiber you consume by eating at least half of all grains as whole-grain foods each day. Counting carbohydrates is a way to plan what and how much you can eat at meals and snacks to help keep blood sugar levels near normal.

-- Limit foods and drinks that are high in added sugars.

-- Eat less fat. Choose lean meats, poultry and fish whenever possible. Bake, broil, roast, grill, boil or steam foods instead of frying. Also, choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Try to eat less saturated fat and focus on healthy fat sources such as salmon, avocados, olive and canola oil, nuts and seeds.

-- Focus on fiber. Eating high-fiber foods can help keep blood sugar from rising too high too quickly after you eat. Good sources of fiber include beans, buckwheat, whole-wheat breads and cereals, brown rice, oatmeal, fruits and vegetables.

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