Insulin & blood glucose levels
Carbohydrate foods are the best energy source for our body. When we eat foods containing carbohydrates they are absorbed from the digestive tract and into the blood stream as glucose. This increases blood glucose levels. The pancreas keeps a tight watch on blood glucose levels, and when it sees them rise, special cells make and release insulin into the blood stream. The insulin then aids the glucose to move from the blood stream into the body cell where it can be used for energy.
FODMAPs, glucose & IBS
FODMAPs are not absorbed properly in the small bowel. This means that they continue their path along the digestive tract to the colon.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an auto immune condition where the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin are attacked and destroyed by the body’s immune system. When the body can no longer produce enough insulin, the glucose cannot leave the blood stream. The blood glucose remains high (hyperglycaemia) and can cause damage to body systems including blood vessel and nerve damage, kidney disease, and heart disease.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a little different. The pancreas still makes insulin, but either not enough or the cells in the body are “resistant” to the insulin. This is called Insulin Resistance and also results in chronically high levels of glucose in the blood, or Hyperglycemia, resulting in similar symptoms and complications to type 1 diabetes.
Testing for Diabetes
Testing for diabetes involves a simple blood test after a period of fasting. The best person to discuss this with is your doctor.
Does Diabetes cause IBS?
Nerve damage resulting from complications of diabetes can damage the nerves around the gut. This damage can cause conditions like gastroparesis or dumping syndrome. Symptoms include:
Diabetes and Coeliac Disease
Type 1 diabetes and coeliac disease are both auto-immune conditions. Coeliac disease is a condition where the body reacts abnormally to the protein gluten, resulting in damage to the lining of the small bowel. This damage affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients properly and if left untreated, coeliac disease has serious consequences. Some people don’t have any symptoms at all, while others can experience symptoms similar to IBS. There is a higher incidence of coeliac disease in people who have type 1 diabetes and medical guidelines recommend that people with type 1 diabetes are screened for coeliac disease.
NB: Gluten is a the protein in wheat and FODMAPs are the carbohydrate in wheat. Although they are present in similar foods, they are not the same molecule. You can read more about the differences between gluten and FODMAPs here and my experience with being tested for coeliac disease here.
Your health care team including your doctor, endocrinologist and dietitian are best place to determine if your symptoms are resulting from either of these conditions and the best way to manage your situation.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and have IBS, it is recommended that you see a specialist dietitian for specific advice and guidance about developing an eating plan that’s right for you.
Be sure to check out the second part of this article “Eating for Diabetes & IBS - Part 2” here.
Marnie & Joanna are gut health expert dietitians with the knowledge and skills to support you with personalised advice and solutions for diabetes and IBS. We consult privately in Melbourne’s inner South East and via Skype. To make an appointment or seek advice, you can call any of the consulting rooms directly or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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MDiet | Grad Cert Nutrition | BHSc
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MDiet | BSc (nutrition)
Accredited Practising Dietitian
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