Questions about Diabetes and Nutrition

Nutrition expert Heather Reese answers your questions about dieting, diabetes and improving your health.

I have a family history of Type 2 Diabetes, if I reduce my sugar intake will I reduce my chances of getting the disease?

If you have not been diagnosed with Diabetes than your body is making enough insulin to clear the sugar that you are consuming out of your blood stream. Eating too much sugar does not directly cause Diabetes. The best way to reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes is to eat a well-balanced diet, be physically active and maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese puts you at an increased risk for Diabetes, and if you are overweight with a family history than your risk is even higher. If you are overweight, try cutting down on high sugar, high calorie foods and added sugars to decrease your total calorie intake and allow for weight loss. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005 recommend that added sugars provide no more than 300 calories per day. As I said, there is not a direct cause and effect relationship between consuming sugar and Diabetes, but watching your sugar intake can decrease your risk of Type 2 Diabetes by helping you maintain a healthy weight.

I keep hearing that I should follow a well-balanced diet, but what does that mean?

A well-balanced diet includes foods from all of the food groups. While there are many fad diets out there that recommend limiting and even eliminating entire food groups, they are not healthy. Our body needs nutrients from all of the food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein and fat. All of the food items in each food group is composed of one of the three macronutrients: carbohydrate, fat and protein.

It is recommended that the majority of your foods come from carbohydrate sources, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. These types of foods should make up about 65 percent of your total daily calories. Fat sources should provide another 30 percent of your total daily calories, with no more than 10 percent of fat coming from saturated sources like meat fat, whole-fat dairy, butter and lard. The remainder of your daily calories should come from protein sources like lean meats, chicken and fish.

I like to drink fitness waters after working out but I noticed that they have sodium in them. If I drink them after exercising am I dehydrating myself more?

There are a lot of fitness waters out there – advertising their vitamin and mineral content. However, you do not need to drink these beverages after working out to replace electrolytes. In fact, regular water can do just that. But many people enjoy drinking fitness waters after working out because they are flavored and taste better than regular water. If you do not particularly like regular water and drinking these fitness beverages will help you meet your daily water needs than I would recommend drinking them. The sodium content of these beverages is not significant and so they won't add much sodium to your daily diet.