Diabetes: Where to find reliable advice and information

This week is Diabetes Week 2021. In this blog post Susie Jennings, Senior Lecturer at UCO, shares some useful resources for preventing and managing this common condition.

"This week I saw a discussion about diabetes on Facebook; someone with Type II diabetes was asking for dietary advice to help them manage their condition. The post got lots and lots of responses, however they all gave different advice. Cut out sugar, cut out fat, cut out carbs, cut out gluten, cut out dairy, eat three meals a day, restrict calories, try fasting, try keto etc. The comments were well-meaning but all of the conflicting advice was unlikely to be of any help. If you followed all of these recommendations there would be very little left to eat!

A diet that cuts out certain foods can be bad for our health, and people with pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes need to be particularly careful that they are getting adequate nutrition. There are several good sources of dietary advice for diabetics, which use current scientific evidence to make recommendations. Any advice that is not based on proper evidence is unlikely to do you any good and could end up doing you harm. Reliable sources of dietary advice include Diabetes UK, which includes lots of specific advice for people with Type I, Type II and gestational diabetes including recipes and cooking tips; and the British Nutrition Foundation which gives a good overview of a healthy diet for people with Type I and Type II diabetes. The Eatwell Guide is a good basis for a healthy balanced diet for most people.

People with Type I diabetes need to make sure they are getting the right match between how much carbohydrate they eat and how much insulin they administer, but otherwise can usually enjoy a healthy balanced diet. People with Type II diabetes need to take care not to consume too much salt, sugar and fat, as that may make their condition more severe. Diabetes UK advises people to avoid any foods labelled as diabetic, because they are often not healthy and are not a good choice for people with diabetes. Type II diabetics often find that losing some weight makes their diabetes easier to manage. Staying healthy by eating a good diet and taking regular exercise not only improves diabetes it also reduces the risk of several other conditions such as heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

When people are interested in finding out how the food they eat affects their health it is important that the advice they receive is from a suitably qualified nutrition professional. 

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