Diabetes has become common over the last few decades, and it is important to manage it effectively. Nutrition plays a key role, so here are some things you MUST keep in mind.
The prevalence of diabetes has seen a steep rise in low-and-middle-income countries, as compared to high-income countries. Unfortunately, India has become the world capital for diabetes.
Diabetes is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar levels, due to poor glucose regulation by the body. The excess glucose lingers in the body for long periods and causes a host of medical issues, including life-threatening complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney and eye problems etc.
Diabetes occurs due to two reasons – one is when the body does not produce enough insulin, and second when the body is unable to effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar, and the absence of insulin or ineffective utilization of insulin leads to high blood glucose or blood sugar.
So, how can diabetes be managed?
Proper nutrition plays a critical role to keep your blood sugar levels in the target range. At the same time, it prevents the complications of diabetes. Healthy eating habits for diabetic patients include:
Being mindful about carbs in your diet
Choose healthy carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, low-fat dairy products such as milk and cheese.
Foods rich in fiber
Fiber-rich foods regulate your digestion, and help control blood sugar levels. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and legumes are rich in dietary fiber, while heart-healthy fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. However, go for baked or grilled preparation.
Good fats are another important ingredient to be included in your diet. Foods rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, including nuts, avocados, canola, olive and peanut oils can help lower your cholesterol levels.
Spreading your meals into smaller portions over the day
A diabetes diet means eating moderate amounts of healthy foods and sticking to regular meal times. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fibre is also likely to reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases, and certain types of cancer. Also, low-fat dairy products can reduce your risk of low bone mass in the future.
Foods you should not eat
Diabetes accelerates the development of clogged and hardened arteries, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, sodium and cholesterol can work against your goal of a heart-healthy diet. Likewise, limit sugar laden foods or drinks as well as alcohol consumption.
High-fat dairy products and animal proteins such as butter, beef, hot dogs, sausage and bacon are some examples of saturated fats to be avoided. Likewise, processed foods, baked products, as well as shortening and stick margarines are high in trans fat. High cholesterol sources include high-fat dairy products and high-fat animal proteins, egg yolks, liver, and other organ meats.
The last word
A healthy eating plan ensures proper nutrition and helps control your blood sugar levels (glucose), manages your weight and controls heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure. Moreover, extra calories and fat create an undesirable rise in blood glucose, which in turn, can lead to serious problems if it is not kept in check. Along with making healthy food choices, tracking your eating habits also plays a role to keep your blood glucose levels in the safe range.