Learning how to count carbohydrates may aid in type 1 diabetes management

While tallying the amounts of carbohydrates in meals and snacks may be tedious for individuals with type 1 diabetes, a recent article published by Reuters Health indicates that the benefits of this method may make it worthwhile, especially for people who use an insulin pump.

The news organization reported that the results of a recent study showed that 61 adults with type 1 diabetes who practiced carbohydrate counting reduced their waist sizes, reported better quality of life and improved their blood sugar levels.

"It has been recognized for decades that optimal [blood sugar] control depends on meticulous attention to diet, insulin and exercise," said lead researcher Sanjeev Mehta, quoted by the news provider.

He noted that in addition to the potential benefits of carbohydrate counting that were revealed through the study's findings, monitoring carbohydrate intake may help diabetic individuals calculate proper insulin doses.

To help diabetics calculate how many carbohydrates they consume, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that these individuals first consult their healthcare provider to determine their optimal carbohydrate intake, which may vary based on levels of physical activity and prescribed medications. These amounts typically range from between 45 and 60 grams per meal, the organization explains.

People with type 1 diabetes should focus on eating food products that have nutrition labels. First, the ADA suggests that individuals plan how much they are going to eat, and then multiply the number of total carbohydrates on the product label by the number of servings. These compounds largely affect blood sugar levels, since they are broken down into the form of glucose during digestion.

While it is important to ensure that these calculations match carbohydrate recommendations from a person's dietary specialist, an individual should not forget to balance his or her meals with sufficient amounts of protein and unsaturated fat, the ADA notes.