Insulin resistance and diabetes – Some studies have suggested that people with HIV on HAART have a higher risk of developing diabetes or its precursor, insulin resistance. These are conditions that occur when the body is unable to process blood sugar properly and the level of sugar in the blood remains high for long periods of time. If not treated, this can cause serious damage to the blood vessels. The kinds of food you eat can have a huge impact on what happens to blood sugar levels, and so nutrition can play a significant role in helping insulin work properly and keeping blood sugar in the ideal range. Carbohydrates, especially simple carbs, affect blood sugar levels quickly. Proteins and fats tend to slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, and so will slow changes in blood sugar levels. Anyone who has been diagnosed with diabetes should attend a diabetes education centre to get as much information as possible on the management of this disease.

Helping to keep blood sugar in the normal range:

  1. Carbohydrates are the foods that need to be controlled. Limit simple carbohydrates, such as sugars and starchy foods like potatoes, white rice and pasta. Choose more whole grains and fibre because these don’t affect blood sugar as strongly.
  2. Take a minute to figure out what a portion size is for a particular food. Canada’s Food Guide, found at the back of this guide, can help.
  3. Always have proteins and a small amount of fat with carbohydrates. This will slow digestion.
  4. Have regular eating habits with consistent meals and snacks at regular intervals throughout the day.
  5. Exercise as many days as possible. Exercise after a meal helps blood sugar come down more quickly.

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