August 29, 2016

Diabetes Terms to Learn – Part 1

Part 1 of 3 parts

These terms appeared in a WebMD article and while I don't agree with all their definitions, I will expose you to the terms and my definitions where needed.

Aerobic exercise: Any rhythmic physical activity that uses large muscle groups and causes the heart and lungs to work harder than when your body is at rest. Also called cardio exercise, it’s been proven to lower blood sugar levels.

Artificial sweeteners: Also called non-nutritive sweeteners, includes low-calorie or non-caloric sweeteners or sugar substitutes. These add a sweet flavor with fewer calories than table sugar, corn syrup, or fruit juice concentrates. Examples include aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal), sucralose (Splenda), acesulfame potassium, neotame, and saccharin (Sweet'N Low).

Blood sugar: Correctly called blood glucose, this is the sugar that's in your bloodstream. People with type 2 diabetes have too much blood glucose because insulin levels or actions aren’t working well.

Body mass index (BMI): A calculation based on your height and weight to categorize you as underweight, at a healthy weight, overweight, or obese. BMI gives an idea of what your risks of health problems are based on your weight. You can calculate yours here.

Carbohydrates (carbs): A primary source of food your body uses for energy. These include simple carbohydrates (such as honey, table sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup), as well as complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs include starches (such as rice and potatoes) and dietary fiber (found in fruits and vegetables, nuts, and whole grains).

Carbohydrate counting: A meal-planning technique used by some people with diabetes. It involves tracking the grams of carbs in food to ensure that you don't eat more than a predetermined amount at a given meal.

Cholesterol: A waxy substance found in your blood. Your body naturally makes cholesterol, but it’s also found in foods that you eat (namely, animal products). Since diabetes and heart disease often go hand in hand, your doctor may want to keep closer tabs on your cholesterol levels. He or she will want to make sure that your LDL ("bad") cholesterol -- which can lead to heart disease -- is not too high, and that your HDL ("good") cholesterol -- which is protective -- is high enough.

Diabetes educator: Also called a certified diabetes educator (CDE), this is a specialist who counsels people with diabetes about how to care for their condition. Diabetes educators are often nurses, dietitians, doctors, or pharmacists.

Diabetes-friendly food: Any food that is healthy for someone with diabetes to have. Because there are no special foods that a person with diabetes must eat, pretty much any healthy food can qualify. Warning: Some packaged foods that aren't especially healthy may be labeled "diabetes-friendly," so always check nutrition labels and list of ingredients.

Dietitian: Also called a nutritionist by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is an "expert" who is trained in the science of nutrition and advises others about healthy eating.  Most nutritionists are registered dietitians (RD or RDN); this credential means that someone has completed a higher level of training (bachelors degree and seldom more) and passed a registration exam.

Endocrinologist: A doctor who specializes in endocrine diseases -- including diabetes -- that are related to hormones (such as insulin).

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