Diabetes and Food Poisoning

Reviewed by Eleese Cunningham, RDN

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Food poisoning is a risk for everyone, but it can be especially serious for people with diabetes. If you have diabetes, you're not alone. Diabetes affects about 29 million Americans, while one in three Americans has prediabetes. If not managed properly, diabetes can have serious, life-threatening effects on your health. One important way to manage your diabetes is by following proper food safety practices.

Why is food safety important for diabetics?

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

  • Immune system readily fights off harmful bacteria and other pathogens that cause infections. Diabetics' immune systems may not readily recognize harmful bacteria and pathogens. This delayed recognition places diabetics at an increased risk for infection.
  • Gastrointestinal tract allows the foods and beverages you consume to be digested normally. Diabetes may damage the cells that create stomach acid and the nerves that help your stomach digest food. This damage may cause your stomach to hold on to food and beverages for a longer period of time, giving harmful pathogens more time to grow.
  • Kidneys clean the body of harmful toxins. If you have diabetes, your kidneys may not be flushing the body of those harmful pathogens. In 2011, 49,677 people of all ages began treatment for kidney failure due to diabetes.

Diabetes can lengthen the process of recovering from food poisoning. Diabetics are more likely to have a lengthier illness, undergo hospitalization or even face death.

How to reduce your risk of food poisoning?

To avoid contracting a foodborne illness be vigilant when handling, preparing and consuming foods. Remember the four simple steps: wash, separate, cook and refrigerate to reduce your risk of contracting food poisoning.

If you are at an increased risk of food poisoning make wise food choices and avoid these dangerous foods.

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