Nearly 10 percent of the American population suffers from diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate the economic burden of diabetes at $174 billion in direct and indirect costs. Diabetes increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. It also carries the risk of debilitating complications such as kidney disease and blindness. Control of your condition is imperative.
The American Diabetes Association has set glycemic goals for patients which can significantly reduce your risk of complications. These goals accomplish several things. They will help you maintain a normal blood sugar. Both spikes and drops in blood glucose can lead to serious health consequences. They will also help prevent complications caused by diabetes.
Control Through Diet
Your blood sugar stabilizing diet plan will help you control cravings which can lead to overeating and weight gain. Maintaining a normal weight can bring significant improvement to your condition. One of the basic principles of your diet involves monitoring carbohydrate intake.
When you eat carbohydrates, digestion releases sugar into your bloodstream. This effect is measured by the glycemic index (GI). The higher the number, the greater the effect glucose has on your blood sugar levels. Foods such as potatoes or rice have a higher GI than foods such as yogurt or fruits like grapefruit. Monitoring both carbohydrates and GI will provide you with effective tools for managing your diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association reports strong evidence that diet or medical nutrition therapy can decrease A1C by 1 to 2 percent, depending upon the individual. A1C is a measure of the glycated hemoglobin in your blood. The A1C blood test determines the degree of control you have over your blood sugar whether through diet or medication. The recommended goal for your A1C is less than 7 percent.
Putting Your Diet in Action
You should limit your carbohydrate intake to 130 g per day. In addition, choosing foods with low to moderate GIs will keep your blood sugar on an even keel. It is essential that you do not skip meals which can lead to an unsafe drop in blood glucose.
Your diet should also consist of 14 g of dietary fiber as per recommendations by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You will also receive other health benefits from including more fiber in your diet. You can reduce your LDL or bad cholesterol which is a major risk factor for heart disease. It will also help you feel sated after eating to further stabilize your blood sugar.
A blood sugar stabilizing diet plan gives you more control over your condition. It can help reduce your risk of complications on many fronts including blood sugar control, weight management and disease prevention. Finally, your diet plan may give you the mental satisfaction of knowing you can improve your health.
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American Diabetes Association. Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2008. Diabetes Care, January 2008; 31(S1): S12-S54.
J. Anderson, et al. Carbohydrate and Fiber Recommendations for Individuals with Diabetes: A Quantitative Assessment and Meta-Analysis of the Evidence. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, February 2004; 23(1): 5–17.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet cdc.gov
Lab Tests Online: A1c and eAG labtestsonline.org
University of Wisconsin: Glycemic Index amsa.org