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What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a common condition in which the body is unable to properly regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

Glucose is released following the digestion of starchy foods including bread, cereals, rice, potatoes and pasta, and also from sugary foods and drinks. Like coeliac disease, diabetes is a life-long condition with the focus of treatment being to control symptoms.

There are two main types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetesType 1 diabetes

(insulin dependent diabetes mellitus or IDDM)

Type 1 diabetes develops when the body is unable to produce any insulin, the hormone that regulates the level of glucose in the blood. This type of diabetes usually appears in people under the age of 40, often in childhood. It is treated with insulin, either by injection or pump and a healthy diet. Regular physical activity is also recommended.

Coeliac disease and diabetes are both autoimmune conditions and have a common genetic predisposition. People with Type 1 diabetes have a greater risk of developing a sensitivity to gluten. The Department of Health estimate that 2-10% of people with type 1 diabetes may also have coeliac disease. In the majority of cases, diabetes is diagnosed before coeliac disease. (NICE Clinical Guideline 86: Recognition and Assessment of Coeliac Disease, May 2009)


Type 2 diabetes

(Non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus or NIDDM)

Type 2 diabetes develops when the body is still able to produce some insulin, although not enough to meet its needs, and/or when the insulin produced does not work properly.

People with type 2 diabetes have no greater risk than the general population of developing coeliac disease.


What can I eat when I am a coeliac and diabetic?

What can I eat when I am a coeliac and diabetic?Lots of foods are naturally gluten free such as meat, eggs, fish, cheese, pulses, fruit and vegetables. There are also some cereal based products that are gluten free like rice cakes and gluten free breakfast cereals.

The main changes you'll need to make are with bread, flour, pasta, biscuits and crackers. Glutafin offers a full range of gluten free alternatives for these foods. Starchy foods help provide energy, vitamins, fibre, minerals and help control blood glucose too. Wherever possible choose wholegrain alternatives, such as brown rice, brown or fibre gluten free bread. This is because a gluten free diet usually lacks in fibre.

Limit your intake of saturated fats

Butter, margarine, cheese and fatty meats all contain a lot of saturated fats which can increase your risk of developing heart disease. Chose mono-saturated fats like olive oil, reduced fat spreads, reduced fat cheeses, and lean meat instead. Try semi-skimmed or skimmed milk. Use healthy cooking methods such as grilling, baking, steaming and boiling.

For more information read our guide for Living with diabetes and coeliac disease

Read about Osteoporosis here

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