Statistics from the United States Department of Agriculture have shown that demand for healthy, organic food has been steadily rising over the past decade. This increase in demand has led to more stores offering a wider variety of healthy food options. Although shopping for healthier food is becoming easier, deciding how healthy a particular food is can be very difficult. Most foods provide several different nutrients, so each meal must contain combinations of foods that deliver a full array of nutrients. The amount of each macronutrient in a specific food item is also important.
The Nutrition Facts panel provides valuable nutrition information such as serving sizes, nutrient quantities, and Daily Values. In addition to the serving size and the servings per container, food labels present nutrient information in both quantities and percentages of standards called the Daily Values. These values reflect dietary recommendations for nutrients. All packaged food must also contain a list of all ingredients according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Consumers who understand how to read labels are best able to apply the information to achieve and maintain healthful dietary practices. Therefore, reading food labels can help consumers make healthy choices. For those who suffer from diabetes, reading food labels and understanding the values has a direct effect on the treatment of and delaying complications that arise from diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus is a disease in which the body is unable to produce insulin and/or use insulin successfully, causing elevated levels of blood glucose and irregular carbohydrate metabolism. In a healthy individual, insulin levels rise after eating to help the cells absorb glucose from food. In diabetics, the body is either unable to secrete the insulin needed for glucose absorption or cells may have become resistant to insulin. There are two main types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile-onset or insulin dependent diabetes, is an autoimmune destruction of the cells that produce insulin.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the cells have developed a resistance to insulin. To offset the resistance, the pancreatic cells produce more insulin, yet the additional insulin is unable to compensate. Therefore, people with type 2 diabetes often have high levels of both insulin and blood glucose. The precise cause of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes is unknown but there are triggers for each. Type 1 develops during childhood and follows a related illness. Often, type 1 diabetics are genetically predisposed. Type 2 develops in middle aged adults and is often triggered by lifestyle choices. More than 80 percent of type 2 diabetics are obese. Prevalence increases with age and lack of physical activity. Genetic factors, such as ethnicity, also plays a role in type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus is the seventh leading cause of death in the united states today. This disease affects 29 million people with about 28 percent unaware that they have the disease. More than one-third of the U.S. population suffer from prediabetes.
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