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Understanding diabetes

Diabetes is a condition where a person has high blood sugar (glucose) levels. For our bodies to work properly we need to convert glucose (sugar) from food into energy.

Most of the cells in your body need glucose as a source of energy. When you eat carbohydrate, such as a bowl of cereal, pasta or fruit, your digestive system breaks down the carbohydrates into glucose (simple sugars), which travel through your blood stream to give energy to your cells.

Insulin is released by the beta cells in response to the rise in blood glucose levels after eating.

Insulin directs the glucose into the liver and muscle cells by promoting the storage of nutrients and preventing your blood glucose levels to rise too high. Insulin also increases the uptake of amino acids (building blocks of protein) and fatty acids (building blocks of fats) into protein and fat stores. Insulin is very important for regulating metabolism by promoting energy storage and cell growth.

The liver converts glucose that is not needed immediately for energy into glycogen which is stored in the liver. When blood glucose levels drop too low your liver is prompted to release it’s stored glycogen into glucose and release it into the bloodstream. 

A normal functioning pancreas ensures there is a staple supply of nutrients for your body. This is important for certain organs such as your brain which depend on a steady supply of glucose.

In people with diabetes, insulin is no longer produced (type 1 diabetes who rely on insulin injections or pumps)  or not produced in sufficient amounts by the body (type 2 diabetes). Instead of being turned into energy the glucose stays in the blood resulting in high blood glucose levels. After eating, the glucose is carried around your body in your blood.

Your blood glucose level is called glycaemia.

In a person who is overweight or obese, the cells of the body become less responsive to insulin, which in turn causes the body to secrete more insulin to maintain normal metabolism. The pancreas would usually try and compensate for this resistance by pumping out more insulin, for most people with insulin resistance, blood glucose levels stay within a normal range. But for some people, the insulin producing cells fail to keep up with this demand with blood glucose levels rising and resulting in Type 2 diabetes.

If you’re managing diabetes you can live an enjoyable life by learning about the condition and effectively managing it. Blood glucose levels can be monitored and managed through self-care, lifestyle changes and treatment. Your health professional, doctor, diabetes educator or dietitian can help you find out what works best for you.

For more information visit Diabetes Australia

I just got diagnosed with type 2 diabetes; but I don't even eat sugar!

We're thrilled to welcome Sherie Sourial (APD,CDE,Health Coach) aboard our team. Sherie will write about type 2 diabetes and offers helpful information for those just diagnosed. Sherie works in Melbourne in both private and public practice - her contact details are after her article below).
I just went to the Dr and she told me that my last blood test showed that I have type 2 diabetes. I know type 2 diabetes runs in my family.I feel a little disappointed about that as I don't even have sugar in my day. Now I'm left with this diagnosis and I don't know what to do. Help ! 
The thought of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can be overwhelming and carry with it so many thoughts and concerns. Like now I can't go out and socialise with family and friends and cancel my big overseas trip I have been planning!
First of all, rest assured, that is definitely not the case at all. Type 2 diabetes can be well managed with a few lifestyle changes ( food and activity ).An accredited practicing dietitian, diabetes educator and/or exercise physiologist can help direct you with a few tips to get you started. 
It's not just about the sugar. While we may not be having added sugar in our food or drinks, our overall food intake may not be supporting our healthy eating lifestyle. We live a busy life and often what we put in our mouths is something we don't often think about that much. We can find ourselves missing meals , eating on the run , getting hungry throughout the day and then overeating at the next meal . We need to practice mindful eating and treat food as a task we need to think about rather than something we just fit into our day. Here are a few tips that can get us started:
* Plan your grocery shopping around what you want to eat that week . We can often buy items that don't necessarily combine themselves into a meal. For example: ' I need to buy breakfast foods. What items do I need for this?' 
* Make sure that the night before school, work etc, you are prepared with what you'll have during the day and at dinner the next day so you're not faced with having to make impulse food choices based on feeling hungry. 
* As much as you can, try not to skip breakfast or any meal in general. This can have a 'domino' effect . How often can this happen? We miss breakie, we rush to work, at morning tea we find ourselves starving. That blueberry muffin looks so tempting than it ever has, we eat it and then feel too full for lunch so we skip lunch and then the cycle continues throughout the day.
* Allow yourself healthy snacks that you can eat during the day, especially at times we know we're slightly more vulnerable. Eg mid afternoon , afterwork. What we want to aim for here is snacks that are nutritious but not too high in calories. Eg a handful of unsalted nuts, 1 small pottle of yoghurt, 1 serving of fruit ( a cupped hand size),sliced veggie sticks with hummus, glass of milk.
Now does it seem overwhelming? Hopefully not like before. These are a few practical tips you may want to think about . Remember to keep in regular contact with your doctor and other health professionals as they are there to monitor and support you. Remember family and friends can also be a great source of encouragement and motivation.
For more information on healthy eating for type 2 diabetes, use the following links
Stay tuned for our next topic on ; portion distortion. Preparing for Christmas
 
Sherie Sourial
APD,CDE,Health Coach
sherie@sourial.net
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