Diabetes is a condition that causes excessive amounts of sugar, or glucose, to build up in the bloodstream that the body is unable to utilize properly. Diet-controlled diabetes is a process for maintaining blood glucose levels at a healthy level with a combination of diet, exercise, and monitoring. Proper management of this condition is critical for a patient's overall health.
When a person eats, the energy from that food is converted to glucose in the bloodstream. In order for glucose, or blood sugar, to be absorbed, a hormone called insulin needs to move glucose from the bloodstream into cells all over the body where it can be used for energy or stored for future consumption. Someone with diabetes is unable to properly utilize blood sugar because of problems relating to insulin, causing glucose to collect in the bloodstream.
Diet-controlled diabetes is also referred to as non-insulin dependent diabetes or type 2 diabetes. Over 90 percent of diabetics have this condition, making it the most common kind of diabetes. It's important to control the blood glucose levels because excessive amounts can be harmful. The levels of sugar in the blood can usually be controlled by diet, exercise, and monitoring blood glucose, and without medication.
Making careful food choices is essential for a person with diet-controlled diabetes. Certain foods are converted to glucose more easily than others. These foods should only be eaten sparingly to prevent high levels of blood sugar. The most obvious examples are sugary snacks like cake, candy, and cookies.
Someone with diet-controlled diabetes must also be very careful about his or her intake of foods high in carbohydrates, since these foods are converted rapidly to large amounts of glucose. Carbohydrate-rich foods such as pasta, bread, and fruit can be eaten, but they need to be balanced with plenty of protein and fiber, as well as lots of vegetables. It's also important to drink plenty of water.
Exercise is also a key part of managing diet-controlled diabetes. During moderate exercise the muscles can use glucose for energy as quickly as 20 times the usual rate, helping to lower blood glucose levels by using it up. Intense exercise can have the opposite effect, increasing blood sugar levels as a stress response. Monitoring blood sugar levels twice a day is also a valuable tool to assist diabetics to manage their disorder. The information from these readings can help them make choices to keep blood glucose at a healthy level.