Test your diabetes IQ

Question 1
Fatigue can be one of the early symptoms of diabetes because the body is unable to convert food into sugar (energy)?

Select: True False

While it is true that fatigue may be an early sign of diabetes, the gut and liver of a person with diabetes are able to convert food into sugars (glucose) just fine. The problem is that the sugar is unable to pass from the blood into the cells, where it can be used as fuel for growth and energy. This is because, in order for the sugar to pass through through the cell walls, the hormone insulin is needed -- it acts almost like a key. In someone with diabetes, their pancreas is either producing too little or no insulin OR the cells are unable to process insulin properly. As a result, sugar, builds up in the blood and is excreted through urine.

In addition to fatigue (feeling weak, tired, sleepy), other early symptoms of diabetes may include:

  • more frequent or persistent infections of the bladder, kidney, skin, etc.
  • increased hunger
  • constant thirst
  • frequent urination
  • weight loss

Question 2
Through the use of insulin injections, insulin pump or glucose-lowering medications, many diabetics are able to cure the disease?

Select: True False

There is no cure for diabetes, however, some people with Type 2 diabetes who bring their weight under control, exercise regularly and eat right may be able to stop taking insulin or diabetes medication.

Question 3
Left untreated, diabetes can lead to very serious health conditions over time?

Select: True False

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure and non-traumatic lower limb amputations in adults, as well as increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Question 4
Of the three main types of diabetes, which is most common:

Select: Type 1 Type 2 Gestational Diabetes

5-10% of diabetes cases are Type 1. This is a case where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Researchers are uncertain as to why the immune system to go awry though autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors or viral infections are suspected.

90-95% of all people with diabetes have Type 2, which is typically associated with obesity, sedentary lifestyle, older age, family history of diabetes and certain ethnicities. Most Type 2 cases begin as insulin resistance, where the pancreas is still producing adequate insulin but the cells are unable to use it. Gradually, insulin production decreases, similar to what happens in Type 1.

Gestational Diabetes occurs among women in 3-8% of pregnancies, usually in the latter months, and disappears once the baby has been born. There may be not even be symptoms at the time. Women who've had gestational diabetes have a 40-60% chance of developing Type 2 diabetes within 5-10 years -- though managing a healthy weight and active lifestyle may reduce this risk.

Question 5
Healthy eating for a person with diabetes means completely eliminating sugars from the diet.

Select: True False

The dietary goal for someone with diabetes is to maintain steady, healthy blood sugar levels by being mindful of what is eaten, how much and when. The emphasis should be on eating a nutritious diet that is low in fat, salt and calories, with smaller portions than what many of us are used to, and at regular intervals (4-6 times per day).

In many cases, a person can still eat a controlled amount of sugar that is found naturally in foods -- though adding more sugar to foods is discouraged. Carbohydrates (sugars/simple carbohydrates and starches/complex carbohydrates) are what have the greatest effect on blood sugar levels so you want to spread the carobohydrate intake throughout the day. The healthiest "carbs" are found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes -- which coincidentally are also high in dietary fiber which further helps to control blood sugar levels. A diabetes-healthy diet is one that would be considered to be healthy for all of us.

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8 Tips for eating healthy with diabetes

Over 25 million Americans are living with diabetes, with nearly 1/4 of these being undiagnosed. And because diabetes is a major cause of kidney failure, heart disease, stoke and blindness, learning how to manage it is critical. In addition to controlling your weight, and being physically active, proper nutrition is an important consideration. The key is to keep blood sugar levels even: this can help protect against future diabetes complications such as heart, kidney and nerve problems.

Incorporate the following tips for eating better into your daily life. However, please note that they are not intended to replace the recommendations of your healthcare provider and/or nutritionist. If you have diabetes, be sure to consult a trained professional before making dietary changes.

1. Fill up on fiber - Get 25 to 35 grams of fiber each day; it has been shown in studies to improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels. High-fiber foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and low-fat dairy products.

2. Limit alcohol - Healthy blood glucose levels and alcohol don't always go hand in hand, so use alcohol in moderation. It can cause hypoglycemia, particularly in combination with blood glucose lowering medication, so be sure to check with your healthcare provider before consuming.

3. Go fish - Eat fish with omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week to reap the heart-healthy benefits. Salmon, mackerel, herring and other fatty fish are great sources of omega-3s. Avoid fried fish.

4. Choose sweet potatoes over white - Packed with nutrient goodness such as carotenoids (good for eye health) and potassium, sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index than other potatoes. Glycemic index indicates how much a particular food raises blood glucose levels.

5. Avoid these heart hurters - Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke so avoid these foods that can be unhealthy for your heart:

  • Saturated fats
  • Trans fats
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium

6. Keep track of the carbs - Your carbohydrate intake greatly determines your blood sugar levels. Consult with your healthcare provider and/or dietician to determine how many carbs you should eat each day. Familiarize yourself with the carb content of your favorite healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, and carefully read labels to ensure you're within your limit.

7. Time your meals - To keep blood glucose levels consistent, try to eat your meals and snacks at the same time each day. If you're on medication, eat and take your medicine at the same time each day. Don't skip meals.

8. Eat Mediterranean style - The so-called Mediterranean diet is good for everyone, including diabetics. It's high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and olive oil, and low in red meat and poultry. eating with diabetes

The most important step for eating better is to work with your health care provider and nutritionist to determine which diet approach works best for your particular needs. This can help protect against fluctuating blood sugar levels and their serious health consequences.

Test your diabetes IQ references:
Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet/

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