New York: Tallying the number of carbohydrates in the diet may be helpful to people using an insulin pump to treat type 1 diabetes, a small study suggests.The study, of 61 adults on insulin pump therapy, found that those who learned to count carbs had a small reduction in weight and waist size after 6 months.They also reported gains in quality of life and -- at least for those who consistently counted their carbs with each meal -- an improvement in blood sugar levels.The findings, published online by the journal Diabetes Care and scheduled to appear in the April print issue, do not prove that carb counting is the answer for people with type 1 diabetes.But it is widely recommended that people on insulin try to estimate the carbohydrate content of their meals to help calculate their insulin doses, said Dr. Sanjeev Mehta, of the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston.Carbohydrate counting is one way to do that, noted Mehta, who was not involved in the study.Other ways include paying close attention to portion size, using diabetes "exchange lists" and choosing foods based on "glycemic index" -- a measure of how far and how fast a given foods sends up blood sugar."There is no definitive data to suggest the superiority of one method over another in terms of ease of use or (blood sugar) control," Mehta told Reuters Health in an email.A few studies have suggested that carbohydrate counting can help people with type 1 diabetes control their blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetes arises when the body no longer produces the blood-sugar-regulating hormone insulin, due to an abnormal immune system attack on insulin-secreting cells.As a result, people with the disease have to take synthetic insulin -- either through daily injections or an insulin "pump" that is worn outside the body and continuously delivers insulin through a catheter placed under the skin in the abdominal area.
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