Nutrition Australia, an organisation that provides scientifically based information, states that managing type 2 diabetes and others needs a balanced diet to control blood glucose levels. It also expresses the importance of regular physical activity to help achieve this. It explains that this type is the most prevalent in the country and is responsible for 85-90% of all diabetes cases in Australia. But, the website also reassures its readers that it is possible to control it to avoid serious long-term complications. To understand nutrition’s role in achieving it, read further. Let’s change our perspective on nutrition and health, and learn how they are related.
What is the Role of Nutrition in Managing Type 2 Diabetes?
Nutrition Australia explains that a healthy and balanced diet is important in managing all types of diabetes to control blood glucose levels. It also explains that insulin users must always check the timing, amount, and type of carbohydrates they eat.
How Does Nutrition Affect the Management of Type 2 Diabetes?
Nutrition Australia states that complications in diabetes occur when there is a high level of glucose in the bloodstream. So, it is important to maintain it by eating food that is low in carbohydrates and has a low glycaemic index. Food that has this property is slow to digest so it is also slow for glucose blood levels to rise. It is why nutrition is important in managing type 1, 2, and gestational diabetes.
What Food Helps in Managing Type 2 Diabetes?
Diabetes Australia suggests the following nutrition tips to those who have the disease.
- Eating regular meals and healthy snacks all throughout the day
- Consuming high-fibre, low-GI carbohydrate foods such as whole grain bread, cereals, beans, lentils, vegetables, and fruits
- Limiting the intake of saturated fat
- Maintaining weight
The same resource also recommends consulting with your diabetes health team.
What are the Ideal Food Choices for Managing Type 2 Diabetes?
Nutrition Australia recommends the following healthy, low-GI food choices for anyone who has diabetes.
- Reduced or low-fat varieties of milk and dairy foods
- Wholegrain, fruit loaf, and sourdough for bread
- Traditional porridge and natural muesli for breakfast cereals
- All varieties of pasta and noodles
- Barley, bulgur, and semolina for grains
- Beans, peas, and lentils for legumes
- Apple, orange, pear, peach, grapes, kiwi fruit, banana, and plums for fruits
- Most vegetables since they have low amounts of carbohydrate
The resource explains that the above raises blood glucose levels more slowly than the other food choices.
How Else Can You Manage Type 2 Diabetes?
Nutrition Australia also highlights the importance of regular physical activity in managing type 1, 2, and gestational diabetes. There is a suggested amount of time you must spend exercising every day.
How Much Exercise Helps in Managing Type 2 Diabetes?
The Australian Government’s Department of Health and Aged Care recommends exercising for your age group in managing type 2 diabetes.
- Infants (birth to 12 months)
- At least 30 minutes of tummy time throughout the day while awake
- Toddlers (1 to 2 years)
- At least 3 hours of various physical activities each day such as running, dancing, and skipping
- Preschoolers (3 to 5 years)
- Active for at least 3 hours each day
- Children and young people (5 to 17 years)
- At least 60 minutes each day of moderate to vigorous physical activity and muscle-strengthening activity
- Adults (18 to 64 years)
- 1.25 to 5 hours of moderate and vigorous-intensity physical activity every week
- Older Australians (65 years and over)
- At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days
The government agency provides further information on its website on the types of physical activities you may do.
How Can You Prepare in Case of Diabetes Emergencies?
The National Diabetes Services Scheme recommends having a diabetes emergency kit and plan. Its website provides a sample plan that lists the following to help self-manage diabetes.
- List of medical and surgical history
- Letter from a healthcare provider regarding your diabetes medication regimen
- A copy of the sick-day action plan
- Copy of ID
- General medical supplies
- A 14-day supply of prescription medication
- Non-prescription drugs such as aspirin, paracetamol, antacid, and vitamins
- A 3-day supply of bottled water
- A cooler bag with 4 refreezable cool packs or FRIO packs
- Diabetes-specific medical supplies (depending on your needs)
- A 14-day supply of your insulin and syringes or insulin pens
- Blood glucose monitoring supplies, batteries, lancets, and lancet device
- Continuous glucose monitoring supplies
- Empty sharps container
- Urine or blood ketone checking strips
- Hypoglycaemia kit
- Cotton balls and tissues
- Alcohol swabs
- A pen and a notebook for recording glucose levels
- Additional items
- Insulin pump settings and passwords
- Insulin pump cannulas (sites) and reservoirs
- A 14-day supply of syringes or insulin pens – in case of
- damage to your pump
- First aid kit
The plan also suggests preparing a radio, whistle, spare socks, mobile phone charger, battery, and protective clothing.
Where Can You Buy the Items for a Diabetes Emergency Kit?
Most of the items above are available from pharmacies and stores. First aid kits are also sold by Registered Training Organisations such as CPR First Aid (RTO NO 21903). It delivers products door-to-door nationwide which also include other items such as AED pads and cabinets. It also offers free online courses and in-person first aid training in its multiple centres throughout Australia.
Nutrition plays an important role in managing type 1, 2, and gestational diabetes. The complications occur when there are high glucose levels. It may happen if you eat food that has high carbohydrates and/or a high glycaemic index. To avoid this, you may want to maintain a balanced diet and choose healthy, low-GI food options. Exercising according to your age may also support in maintaining your type 2 diabetes and others. To prepare for emergencies, it is also ideal to have an emergency kit and plan so you are able to self-manage diabetes.