Sunday, December 5, 2010

Nutrition and exercise for type 1 diabetics

As this year winds down, my thoughts drift to how much nutrition really affects the results of exercise. Most people do not realize that what they eat can sabotage their workouts more than anything. For proof, watch The Biggest Loser on NBC. Make good food choices with lots of hard work and weight loss and getting healthy is reachable, even for average everyday people.

Now, throw type 1 diabetes in the mix and things get really interesting. Why you ask? Because food is a Type 1 (T1) diabetics worst enemy. In a non-diabetic, when you eat, their pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin into the blood stream to regulate the amount of sugar in the blood stream. This is how most people can eat a giant piece of cake and still have normal blood sugar (which 100 is perfect). Now, in a T1 diabetic, their pancreas no longer (or secretes very little) secretes insulin as the cells that do this have been attacked and shut down by the bodies autoimmune system.

Take the piece of cake I described above. If a T1 ate that, they would have to 'cover' the amount of carbs (ALOT) that is in that piece of cake with an insulin shot or a bolus from an insulin pump. Some think this is acceptable, well yes and no. While insulin pumps do give T1's more freedom to eat what they want, its still not as fast a real pancreas, this is where the no comes in. I am all to familiar with this scenario.

All this to say that I believe that nutrition is doubly important for T1's that exercise. When I am doing a long ride in the summer time, I have to eat a lot before the ride so that I do not go low (a big drop in blood sugar) while on the ride. Now, every diabetic is different in this area so I am going to share my experiences, successes and failures here.

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