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ADA Diets and Low Carb Diets

By: Tess Thompson

Diabetes mellitus or simply diabetes is a syndrome that is characterized by metabolic disorders and high blood sugar. This is caused by low levels of insulin (Type 1) or abnormal resistance to the effects of insulin (Type 2). Uncontrolled diabetes can cause complications like abnormally low blood pressure, acidosis with an accumulation of ketone bodies or diabetic coma.

While adequate treatment can control the progress of the disease, increased emphasis on controlling blood pressure and adopting lifestyle changes are critical for improving the risk profile of the complications associated with diabetes. Diabetes Type 2 is usually treated by increasing overall activity and a weight loss diet. Even Type 1 patients, who are not overweight at the onset of the disease, are advised to lose weight naturally.

The American Diabetic Association (ADA), in its efforts to improve the quality of life of diabetics and those who are at an increased risk, encourages ADA diets. These are healthy weight loss plans based on appropriate nourishment that strike a balance between all food groups. 

Based on individual needs, different diets are recommended that are qualified according to the calorie intake. ADA diets have strict regulations on the servings and the timing of the meals. Depending upon specific requirements, ADA diets may comprise of 6 meals or two meals and two snacks and so on and so forth.

All low carbohydrate diets claim to be effective for diabetics. But the ADA refuses to accept them because even though low carbohydrate diets help in keeping blood sugar in check, they are extremely difficult to sustain over long periods of time. Low carbohydrate diets like the Atkins diet are often called fad diets.

Much of the carbohydrate is converted within hours to monosaccharide glucose, the principle carbohydrate in the blood that is used by the body as fuel for energy. But all carbohydrates are not equal. Complex carbohydrates take a longer time to convert to glucose and therefore do not result in sudden increases in blood sugar levels. Most fruit sugars do not convert to glucose but are usable as cellular fuel. They do not participate in the insulin/glucose metabolic process. However, it should be noted that many low carbohydrate diets limit or restrict fruits. Fruits are also necessary for their fibrous content, which provides bulk to the waste and helps in easy elimination and detoxification.

Diabetes is a long term disease that requires life long treatment and diet management. Low carbohydrate diets, besides being controversial, bring about metabolic changes that diabetics cannot afford to experiment with.

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