Future Fit School of Nutrition Resources D - G

Diabetes (diabetes mellitus)

There are two main types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body produces no insulin. It is often referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes. It usually develops before the age of 40, often during teenage years. If you have type 1 diabetes you will need to take insulin injections for life. You must also ensure your blood glucose levels stay balanced by eating a healthy diet and by carrying out regular blood tests.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when not enough insulin is produced by the body or when the body’s cells do not react to insulin. This is called insulin resistance. If you have type 2 diabetes you may be able to control your symptoms simply by eating a healthy diet and monitoring your blood glucose level. However, as type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition, you may eventually need to take insulin medication, usually in the form of tablets.

General healthy eating guidelines also apply to those with diabetes. Large intakes of sugars should be avoided, although they do not need to be removed from the diet.

Essential fatty acids

Essential fatty acids cannot be synthesized by the body.  There are 2 essential fatty acids - omega 3 and omega 6 - which are very important because they help the cardiovascular, reproductive, immune and nervous systems to function. In particular they are involved in the manufacture and repair of cell membranes, which in turn enable the cells to obtain optimum nutrition. They are also the precursors for a group of compounds called eicosanoids.

Foods rich in omega 6 are walnuts, sunflower seeds, sunflower oil and wheatgerm. Foods rich in omega 3 are oily fish, salmon, mackerel, sardines, whitebait, herrings, linseed oil, wheatgerm, walnuts, rapeseed oil and soya beans.


There are 3 types of fat - saturated fat, unsaturated fat and trans fats. Unsaturated fat can also be broken down into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat.

Saturated fat is normally solid at room temperature. It is found mostly in meat and dairy products (such as whole milk, butter and cheese) as well as in coconut and palm oils.

Trans fat can be found in some margarines, many fast foods, commercially baked goods, snack foods and other foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils.

Polyunsaturated fats are normally liquid at room temperature and kept in the refrigerator. They are found in certain plant oils such as safflower, sunflower and soybean.

Monounsaturated fats are normally liquid at room temperature but start to solidify at refrigerator temperatures. They are found in oils such as olive oil, rapeseed oil and sesame oil. Monounsaturated fats are preferable for cooking.

Saturated and trans fats are considered to be bad for you because they raise blood cholesterol levels and are therefore linked to heart disease.

All types of fat provide 9Kcal per gram and are therefore twice as energy dense as carbohydrate and protein. Fat should provide no more than 30-35% of our energy intake.


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