Friday, June 22, 2012

Carb counts and diabetic maths - the first class

Well I had my first day of carb counting today. Actually I had 2 classes today. One from the dietician and the other from the diabetes education nurse.

From the dietician, I was told that on the nutrition facts section of every packet, there were 3 very important numbers.

1 - the serving size.
2 - the total carbohydrates
3 - the fibre count.

 Then I was told to ALWAYS SUBTRACT the fibre from the total carbohydrates.

That's because fibre does not increase or decrease the blood sugar.Why we do this, I don't know yet - I will probably learn this in a future class.  And then I learnt more about serving size - roughly how much it is for various foods and what one serving size looks like. 

In the next class - the nurse was explaining what the symptoms of T1D (Type 1 Diabetes) are,  how and where insulin is formed (in the pancreas), and why kids get T1D and how it develops. Lastly she spoke about the "honeymoon" period.

She explained about the genetic blueprint, (where kids need to have the genetic potential to have diabetes) but there is also the environmental factor as well.

Take a pair of identical twins for example. Both looking exactly identical, raised in the same family, eating the same food. And yet ONE of them gets T1D, and the other one does not. So they both have the genetic potential to have diabetes, but only one of them comes across the environmental trigger that sets off the symptoms for diabetes.

Because it takes time for the beta cells in the pancreas to be destroyed, it may take several years for a child to get to the point where symptoms start showing up. Usually at diagnosis, about 85 to 90% of the beta cells have been destroyed. The child or person is then hospitalized and stabilised.

Now that insulin is being injected, the remaining beta cells then take a vacation for a short time. Once they have rested, they come back and start working again. When this happens, the amount of insulin required from injections drops while the body is providing some of the insulin requirements. BUT because they are still be destroyed, eventually this extra insulin disappears, and the full amount of insulin must now be injected from outside the body. This is called the Honeymoon period and can last anywhere from 3 to 12 months.

Another important thing to remember is this.

More insulin causes blood sugar levels to drop - a low blood sugar level is called HYPOglycemia.

Less insulin causes blood sugar levels to rise - a high blood sugar level is called HYPERglycemia.

If you want to try and learn more about counting carbs and why fibre should or should not be subtracted - you can read this forum thread. It is very complex and full of jargon - most of which went over my head.

But I am sure in a few months I will be able to read this thread just like a newspaper without having to think about what I am reading. 

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