Despite the huge increase in the number of elderly people with both T1DM and T2DM, there are few studies of proper nutrition specific to that age group — most recommendations are based on younger patients. But experts do know that a major concern with respect to nutrition in the elderly is malnutrition, which results from inadequate amounts of calories and consuming too much of the wrong foods. The often-limited resources of the elderly cause them to have to choose between eating good foods, buying all their medications, and spending money on occasional pleasures like a book or a movie. This isn't a medical problem but rather a social and economic problem, and it's not easily fixed. (I provide some resources to help combat this problem later in this chapter.)
The following are some nutritional recommendations that are reasonable and doable for the elderly patient with T1DM:
1 Take a multivitamin and a mineral tablet daily to ensure that you're getting adequate quantities of essential nutrients.
1 Consume a diet in which the carbohydrate content makes up 40 to 50 percent of calories. This recommendation is reasonable based on successful control of blood glucose in other patients.
1 Keep the levels of saturated fats down and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats up for a healthier diet; these fats should represent about 30 percent of your daily calories.
1 Stick to a level of protein that's 15 to 20 percent of daily calories. This amount strikes a balance between too much protein that may hurt the kidneys and too little protein resulting in loss of muscle.
1 Get at least 20 grams of fiber in your daily diet.
1 Avoid a low-sugar diet. It won't improve your glucose control and may cause weight loss because of the lack of taste in the food.
1 Keep your teeth in good condition to make eating easier and to avoid infections that complicate T1DM. Brush, floss, and visit the dentist twice a year.
Flip to Chapter 8 for general information on eating a healthy diet.
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All you need is a proper diet of fresh fruits and vegetables and get plenty of exercise and you'll be fine. Ever heard those words from your doctor? If that's all heshe recommends then you're missing out an important ingredient for health that he's not telling you. Fact is that you can adhere to the strictest diet, watch everything you eat and get the exercise of amarathon runner and still come down with diabetic complications. Diet, exercise and standard drug treatments simply aren't enough to help keep your diabetes under control.