Diabetes is a metabolic disorder. Type one diabetes is typically diagnosed at first when people are young.
Diabetes type 1 occurs when the pancreas cells do not function properly. Therefore, the body is unable to utilize glucose in the blood to produce energy. High blood sugar has both short-term and long-term effects. The unique symptoms of diabetes are:
- Polyphagia (increased hunger)
- Polydipsia (increased thirst)
- Polyuria (increased urine)
Diabetes risk factors are genetic. Typically it is found where a family history of diabetes exists. Race can play a role as well, as Caucasians are at more risk. Some environmental factors may also play a role. Whereas diabetes can be managed and people diagnosed with diabetes type 1 can lead healthy and fulfilling lives, uncontrolled diabetes is very dangerous. High blood sugar damages various body parts. People with uncontrolled blood sugar are at risk of:
- Heart attack
- Eye damage and cataracts
- Nerve damage or diabetic neuropathy
- Kidney disease
- Diabetic sores especially on the feet that may necessitate amputation
Using Diet to Manage Blood Sugar
For people with diabetes type 1, diet is critical in keeping healthy sugar levels. Foods rich in added sugar and refined carbohydrates can cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels. On the other hand, foods can help in optimizing blood sugar controls and thus promote overall health. Foods that help in controlling blood sugar include:
- Most Fruits - Other than melons and pineapples, other fruits have GI scores of 55 or lower. Most fruits have water and fiber, which balance out the fructose found in sugar. Eating whole fruits instead of taking fruit juices is encouraged as whole fruits will contain fibers and seeds, while fruit juice is packed full of sugar. Many berries are especially good choices.
- Yams and Sweet Potatoes - Yams and sweet potatoes have low GI scores and are highly nutritious. Sweet potato consumption may reduce some diabetic markers. People with diabetes may opt to substitute potatoes with yams or sweet potatoes for their meals.
- Oatmeal and Bran - Other than oats having low GI scores, they also have B-glucans which, reduce glucose spikes after eating, assist to keep tight glycemic control and reduce blood fat levels.
- Nuts - Nuts have a lot of dietary fiber and low GI scores. Nuts are also good sources of protein, healthy fats, and other healthy nutrients like antioxidants, flavonoids, and minerals.
While some people think that it’s important to strip all sugar and carbs from a diet for diabetics, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Skipping meals and not getting the carbs needed can result in diabetic shock due to very low blood sugars. Low levels of carbs at consistent intervals throughout the day are the best way to manage and keep a proper blood sugar through diet.
Equipment Needed for Testing
When diagnosed with diabetes type 1, equipment that may be useful in measuring blood sugar levels include:
- A Blood Sugar Meter (Glucose meter) - The glucose meter uses a drop of blood to measure blood sugar. Glucose meters are also helpful in showing how diet, stress, exercise, and medication affect blood sugar. When buying a meter, choose one that is easy to use. It is recommended to buy one with a screen big enough to allow proper reading.
- Test Strips, Lancet devices, and Lancets - All plastic strips have chemicals that convert blood sugar into electronic signals that can be interpreted by the glucose meter. A lancet gadget is used to prick a finger to obtain blood that is placed on the test strip for measurements. Lancet devices easily fit lancets that are then used to prick a finger for blood.
- A Container for Sharps - Lancets that are used should be placed in a sharps container. As they have blood, they are classified as bio-waste and should be disposed of as such properly. The sharps container ensures that the small needles won’t prick anyone handling the trash.
Tips For Living With Diabetes
The management of Type 1 diabetes is simple in theory and difficult in execution. Listening to and following the doctor’s advice and going for regular medical checkups is vital. To effectively manage diabetes, patients should:
- Consume A Diabetic Diet - This has been discussed earlier to some degree, but a diabetic diet contains vegetables, fruits, whole grains, unsaturated plant-based fats, dairy products, and legumes. A diabetic patient should always watch the number of non fiber based carbs taken in every meal.
- Exercise Regularly - Exercise is encouraged to maintain a healthy weight. However, caution should be taken to ensure that blood sugar does not dip to deficient levels by over exercising in a single session. A diabetic patient should always eat enough and ensure adherence to medication therapy. When exercising, a diabetic patient should always be on the lookout for signs of hypoglycemia; this includes:
- Understand Your Medications - Handling diabetes has come a long way from just stabbing yourself with needles to inject yourself with hormones to equal out blood sugar. New medications are constantly being developed to assist. It’s important to know exactly what any medication your doctor gives you will do and how it will affect your body.
Severe hypoglycemia can lead to a coma. People with diabetes are encouraged to carry small quick acting sugars (candies, or juice) with them to take when blood sugar levels fall.