On the heels of a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that projects 2 out of 5 Americans will develop diabetes, health officials are once again stressing the importance of dietitians for diabetes care.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics said that nutrition counseling can steer diabetics on a healthy track. Diabetes affects the body's ability to make or properly use insulin, which leads to high glucose in the blood. Maintaining a healthy blood sugar level is essential to managing diabetes. A registered dietitian may help reduce the risk of diabetes and its related health problems through dietary and lifestyle changes.

"Health professionals are in agreement that nutrition services are one of the first treatments individuals should receive to improve conditions such as diabetes and its related complications," registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson Angela Ginn said in a statement.

With diabetes becoming an unprecedentedly widespread issue, nutritionists can serve as part of a medical team for individuals across the nation, whether they were diagnosed yesterday or 20 years ago.

As diabetics know, diet is a cornerstone of managing the blood glucose disease. That's why staying on top of what you consume and how much of it you consume may make a world of difference. A registered dietitian may help patients develop and monitor their diabetic diet, providing new diabetic-friendly recipes and advice.

Nutrition Therapy

Medical nutrition therapy includes a lifestyle examination, a review of current diet and eating habits and development of personalized treatment plans. RDs and RDNs are food and nutrition experts who have completed multiple levels of training set by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

If you are concerned your insurance might not cover nutrition therapy, it's absolutely worth checking, as a variety of insurance plans do provide coverage. Medicare Part B covers medical nutrition therapy for diabetes care. Those with private insurance should take a look at their individual plan for specific coverage details. The bottom line: Dietitians may prove a crucial backbone of support and guidance.

"Research has shown that weight loss through moderate diet changes and physical activity plays a significant role in reducing a person's risk of diabetes and its complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage and other health problems," said Ginn, who is also a certified diabetes educator. "A registered dietitian nutritionist is one of your best resources for developing a plan to make these lifestyle changes."

Ginn added that if you have diabetes, ask your physician whether a referral for medical nutrition therapy is right for you. With a doctor's referral, you can make an appointment to see a registered dietitian nutritionist, either at a physician clinic, local hospital outpatient department or at an RDN's office near your home.

It's worth pointing out that while all registered dietitians are nutritionists, not all nutritionists are registered dietitians.

The key thing is to remember that you're not alone in this fight. Registered dietitians and your medical team, along with family and friends, can become a supportive, cohesive team.

To learn more about diabetes education:

How to Talk to a Dietitian About Your Diabetes Diet
The Importance of Inpatient Diabetes Education
What a Nutritionist Can Do For You