Features of nutrition in diabetes mellitus


Diabetes mellitus (DM) is one of the most common and severe forms of endocrine disorders. It can be congenital or develop gradually. In the early stages, symptoms are less pronounced, which makes it difficult to diagnose the disease. Very obese people are at risk of developing type II diabetes, therefore, diet therapy will become one of the main methods of treatment for them, and for most relatively healthy obese people, it will be a key method of prevention.


Nutritional Principles for Diabetics

The American Diabetes Association has compiled a number of nutritional principles aimed at improving metabolic disorders in patients, which in turn will improve well-being and slow the progression of the disease. Treatment of diabetes requires monitoring blood sugar levels throughout the day – it must be within the normal range (calorifier). This can be done by normalizing nutrition, but if a person persists in hyperglycemia, then insulin therapy is indicated for him. All questions of therapy should be resolved exclusively with the attending physician and remember that drug treatment does not diminish the importance of a healthy diet.

Caloric intake should be calculated based on physiological needs (weight, height, age) and lifestyle. Here, as with healthy people, the more active you are, the more calories you need. Particular attention should be paid to the ratio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

The number of meals, including snacks, should be 5-6 times. Nutritionists recommend using split meals to avoid glycemic load and spikes in blood sugar.


The proportion of carbohydrates in the diet of diabetic patients should be in the range of 40-60%. Since these people have impaired carbohydrate metabolism, it is necessary to build a menu based on carbohydrates. It is believed that diabetics should avoid sugar-containing foods and foods with a high GI, but scientists have found that even a large serving of the most correct carbohydrates leads to a jump in sugar levels, so their consumption must be controlled.


Also, nutritionists recommend that patients with diabetes of any type focus on the glycemic index when choosing products. It is imperative that the total amount of carbohydrates per day is always constant without any food disruptions.

For this, nutritionists began to use the concept of “bread unit” (XE) – a measure equal to 12-15 grams of digestible carbohydrates. That is, not 12-15 g of the product, but carbohydrates in it. It can be 25 g of bread, 5-6 biscuits, 18 g of oatmeal, 65 g of potatoes or 1 medium apple. It was found that 12-15 g of carbohydrates increase the sugar level by 2,8 mmol / l, which requires 2 units. insulin. The number of “bread units” in one meal should be in the range from 3 to 5. XE tables will help to diversify the diet and not go beyond the required amount of carbohydrates.



The total daily amount of fat should be within 50 g. In diabetes mellitus, it is necessary to limit saturated fats from meat (lamb, pork, duck). To prevent atherosclerosis, you should also limit foods high in cholesterol (liver, brain, heart). In total, the share of fat in the diet of patients with diabetes should account for no more than 30% of all calories. Of these, 10% must be saturated fat from animal products, 10% polyunsaturated and 10% monounsaturated fat.


The total daily amount of proteins in the diet of diabetics is 15-20% of the calorie intake. In kidney disease, protein should be limited. Some categories of people need more protein foods. These are children and adolescents with diabetes, pregnant and lactating women, people with complications and the physically exhausted. For them, the needs are calculated based on 1,5-2 g per kilogram of body weight.


Other power components

The requirements for other food components are as follows:

  • Fiber regulates blood sugar, improves digestion, and reduces the absorption of cholesterol. The needs of people with diabetes in dietary fiber are higher and amount to about 40 g / day;
  • Sweeteners are an excellent substitute for sugar and help prevent spikes in blood glucose. Modern research has proven that most low-calorie sweeteners are harmless when consumed within the manufacturer’s prescribed dosage;
  • Salt should be in the range of 10-12 g / day;
  • Water requirements are 1,5 liters per day;
  • Vitamins and minerals can be partially compensated by complex multivitamin preparations, but when compiling a diet, it is necessary to ensure that the key ones are supplied with food. In the diet of a diabetic, these are mainly zinc, copper and manganese, which are involved in the regulation of sugar levels.

For people who are still poorly oriented in proteins, fats and carbohydrates, units of bread and other food components, you can start with the medical diet number 9. It takes into account the basic needs of people with diabetes mellitus. Before that, you need to consult with your doctor and adapt the diet to your physiological needs (calorizator). Over time, you will understand the foods and be able to safely expand your diet.

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