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What Is Diabetes and how is it treated?


Diabetes is on the rise. So you would probably know someone with it but what is diabetes and how is it treated? Simply put, diabetes occurs when the body does not make enough insulin, or it is not reacting to insulin like it should.  


Carbohydrates, carbs, and sugar are all mostly the same thing. Once digested carbohydrates become glucose, which is the body’s main energy source. Many people believe sugar causes diabetes, this is incorrect. Sugar does not cause diabetes. Diabetes is the body’s inability to process sugar. 


Insulin is a hormone and its job is to tell your cells to use glucose for energy. When you have diabetes, glucose stays in your blood and doesn’t go to your muscles and organs.


Types I and II and gestational diabetes are similar, but with different root causes.    

Diabetes Type I is an autoimmune disease and cannot be reversed. The body stops producing any insulin, meaning the insulin needs to be administered manually. There is increasingly more research and technology being invested to help people with Type 1 Diabetes, and it is becoming easier to manage each year. We can now manage Type 1 Diabetes with insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors connected directly to a smart phone! 

Type II can develop at any time across the lifespan and is usually associated with a genetic susceptibility and/or an unhealthy lifestyle. Being too sedentary, carrying excess weight, and not eating enough of the right kind of foods can cause type II. The good news is, you can reverse Type II through a positive lifestyle of improved diet and increased movement. However, you may still need medications if blood glucose levels remain too high even with a good diet and regular exercise.  

Gestational Diabetes (GDM) occurs in pregnancy. We don’t really know what causes it. There are theories the hormonal shifts during pregnancy disrupt normal insulin function. As such, pregnant women can produce less insulin, or the cells do not react to insulin-like they should. This, which is the same for all types of diabetes, meaning glucose stays in the blood too long. Blood glucose levels need close and tight monitoring, exercise is crucial as is a good understanding of what to eat and when. 

Diabetes treatment

  • Evenly spread carbs  over the day to stabilise blood glucose levels 
  • Choose low GI carbs  like wholegrain bread over high GI white bread 
  • Eat more healthy fat foods like nuts and olive oil
  • Add protein foods like yoghurt and lean meat to keep you feeling full
  • Exercise every day
  • You may need to use insulin to control your blood sugar levels

Treatment for diabetes should be unique based on the type and severity of diabetes. 

Find out more

Diabetes NSW has loads of information.

Book online with one of our Dietitians today for a personalised diabetes treatment plan.