Diet is the cornerstone of diabetes treatment. It makes all the difference in maintaining blood sugar levels and preventing long-term complications of this disease. Let us look at the 5 dietary changes that are currently within your reach.
The basic notions
- Diabetics should consult a dietitian before changing their diet.
- To maintain a healthy blood sugar level, meals and snacks must be balanced to ensure a good mix of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
- Adults may have to reduce their intake of fat and cholesterol to prevent heart and kidney disease.
- If you are overweight, focus on your weight loss by reducing your calorie intake and doing more exercise.
1. Choosing the Right Carbohydrates
- Carbohydrates are somewhat the basic motto of glucose. In most diabetics, foods high in carbohydrates such as vegetables, bread, cereals and pasta and should account for 45 to 60 percent of their daily calories.
- As the fiber content of these carbohydrates slows down the release of glucose, foods high in starches and fiber such as oat cereal, beans, peas, and lentils help prevent glucose peaks after meals.
- Food guides open the door to consumption in moderation of simple carbohydrates like syrups, sugars, and sweeteners.
- Contrary to past recommendations, the focus is now on tracking total carbohydrate consumption at each meal/snack instead of the carbohydrate source per se. However, not all carbohydrates are equal. Complex carbohydrates like grains and cereals provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber, while sugars and sweeteners mostly provide calories. Therefore, complex carbohydrates should constitute the essential diet, and sugars only a small amount.
- Soluble fiber (the kind found in oatmeal) could actually help control blood sugar and keep cholesterol low. Insoluble fiber, which is found in whole grains and many vegetables, helps to bring a sensation of satiety without calories.
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2. Track the glycemic index of your food
- Some carbohydrate-rich foods are digested and absorbed into the blood quickly, while others are digested and processed into glucose more slowly. The glycemic index (GI) measures the effect of a high carbohydrate diet on blood sugar.
- Research has shown that foods with a low GI can help diabetics to maintain control over their blood glucose levels.
- Other examples of low GI foods are peas, beans, lentils, fruits such as apples, pears, and oranges, barley, bran cereals, pasta, milk, and yogurt.
- High GI foods include potatoes, rice cakes, cornflakes, pretzels and soda biscuits.
- The GI of a food may vary according to the method of preparation. For example, a baked potato has a higher GI than a boiled potato.
3. A sufficient supply of chromium
- Chromium deficiency, a trace element, has been associated with reduced glucose tolerance.
- You will find chrome in foods like wheat bran, whole grains, chicken breasts, mushrooms and green molasses (blackstrap).
- Research on chromium supplements has shown its benefits in controlling blood glucose in diabetics.
- Your multivitamin may contain small amounts (up to 50 micrograms). If you opt for chrome supplements, limit yourself to 200 micrograms per day.
4. Eat healthy proteins
- No research to date has justified an increase or decrease in protein intake for diabetes without complications. The recommended amounts for non-diabetics are therefore the same as for adult diabetics.
- High protein foods (lean meats, meat substitutes, and low-fat dairy products) are expected to account for 10-20% of the daily calories.
5. Eat good fats
- Diabetics should follow a low-fat diet. High-fat diets contribute to obesity and hypercholesterolemia. Saturated fats in animal foods and hydrogenated fats in packaged foods should also be avoided.
- Conversely, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in vegetable oils, nuts, fish, and avocados, are good for the heart and slow digestion, helping to stabilize blood sugar levels.
It is essential to consult a dietitian before undertaking radical changes in her diet. This guide should feed your conversation with it and serve as a starting point if you are looking to make small adjustments to your habits. Changing your diet is not very difficult, and it could even greatly improve your quality of life.