Diabetes and Food Poisoning

Contributors: Sarah Klemm, RDN, CD, LDN

Mike Watson Images/moodboard/Thinkstock

While food poisoning, also known as foodborne illness, can affect anyone, certain populations are more sensitive and are at increased risk of getting sick. These groups include pregnant women, children and older adults, as well as those with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and kidney disease.

Diabetes can affect organs and systems of your body, causing them not to function properly. For example:

  • The immune system fights off viruses and harmful bacteria that cause infection. With diabetes, the immune system may not recognize harmful bacteria right away. This delayed response increases risk for foodborne illness and other infections.
  • The digestive tract breaks down food and beverages with the help of acids in the stomach. As the food continues to pass through the digestive tract, movement is controlled by the nervous system. Diabetes can damage both of these pathways, slowing digestion and giving harmful bacteria time to multiply and grow.
  • The kidneys filter and flush out toxins from the body, helping to reduce the amount of harmful bacteria you may have in your system. Unfortunately, about one in three people with diabetes also has kidney disease, increasing the risks of foodborne illness even further.

Those with diabetes are more likely to have longer recovery times, require hospitalization and suffer from long-term complications, including death. Reduce your risk of some of these dangers by managing diabetes and following proper food safety practices.

Reduce Your Risk

To reduce your risk of foodborne illness, practice food safety from start to finish. Whether handling, preparing or consuming foods, remember these four simple steps:

  • Wash hands and surfaces used to prepare and serve food.
  • Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
  • Cook foods to appropriate temperatures. Always reheat leftovers to 165°F or higher.
  • Refrigerate foods promptly, within one to two hours of them being out at room temperature. 

Safe food practices can help you reduce your risk of getting sick and from suffering long term complications of foodborne illness. For more information, consult with a registered dietitian nutritionist to develop a healthy eating plan that meets your personal health needs.

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