Understanding Diabetes: Prevention and Diet

We covered the basic of why diabetes occurs, its types and symptoms here. This post talks about how to avoid diabetes and the diet one should follow if on the verge of having it or suffering from it. So, let’s jump into easy ways of diabetes prevention and diet tips.

Diabetes has no cure but can be managed successfully with changes in lifestyle and diet. Other than the common symptoms, it’s a disease which can have severe complications if ignored for too long. It can lead to damaged nerves leading to heart failure and vision loss all due to the excess blood sugar being capable of damaging the tiny capillaries. As stated under the observed statistics and facts about diabetes, about 75% people with Diabetes die of heart disease and at a younger age. India, being in the top 3 countries with diabetes patients, is doing rather poorly with how we look at our lifestyle habits.

People with type 1 diabetes who do not have any insulin in the body need to monitor glucose level several times a day and need to take insulin shots accordingly to maintain a constant blood sugar level.

People with type 2 who have become insensitive or do not have sufficient insulin production need to take medicines aiming to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce glucose production or absorption into the bloodstream and help in metabolizing glucose faster.

diabetes prevention diet

DIABETES PREVENTION

No matter what type of diabetes one suffers from, regular exercise and eating healthy is paramount (Even when on a vacation, read how to stay fit). Junk food is full of carbs and will cause insulin spike you need to avoid. Exercise will help in glucose expenditure by the body as energy is used thus bringing down the blood sugar level.

People who are overweight are at a higher risk of diabetes as the more fatty tissues one has the more resistivity to insulin is believed to grow. So as a way of prevention, one should try to gradually cut down weight and excess body fat, especially around stomach. For those who find it difficult to workout, join a group class. It’s a fun way to be around people and friends who would make you stick to a routine.

Since type 2 diabetes is the one that develops due to poor lifestyle choices, there are many ways in which one can prevent it – 

  1. Maintain a healthy weight and body fat level.
  2. Avoid junk and processed food, especially the ones high on trans fat and LDL .
  3. Follow a healthy diet of proteins, healthy fat, complex carbs and micronutrients.
  4. Get enough fiber as it slows down the absorption of carbs into the blood stream and also lowers cholesterol.
  5. Take proper sleep as that is an important time for the body to heal itself. Keep stress low by indulging in recreational activities and do not skimp on sleep. 
  6. Exercise increases insulin sensitivity, so include moderate sessions a few times a week.
  7. Finally, diabetes symptoms can be slow to occur and people often notice when it’s too late. Pay attention to any such symptoms. Many people successfully move back from their borderline diabetes situation if only they act on time.

15 FOOD AND SNACKS FOR DIABETICS

Even though everyone knows that it is in general a good practice to eat healthy food at all times, people with diabetes have to be strict about enforcing it. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind while planning a diet around diabetes – 

plan a balanced diet
Tips to imagine a balanced diet (Source)
  1. Select food based on Glycemic Index (GI). Glycemic Index is a value assigned to food based on how much and how quickly they increase blood sugar after consumption. One should pick foods with low GI. Carbs are important for the body but they also impact the blood sugar the most. So try to choose only whole grains, vegetables and fruits with low GI.
  2. Eat more of whole grains, fruits and vegetables as they are good sources of fiber and complex carbs. Even when going for savory dishes at times, choose the ones made with whole grains, brown rice, etc.
  3. Include fatty fish or Omega-3 supplements in diet, especially for people who suffer from diabetes and are at a greater risk of heart diseases. Omega-3 protects the cells that line blood vessels and improves the way arteries behave after eating.
  4. Eat more of leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and other non-starchy vegetables with low GI and containing antioxidants and other micronutrients that help fight against cell degradation occurring due to diabetes.
  5. Eggs raise good cholesterol levels and improve sensitivity to insulin. Their protein content is also good for keeping you full for longer and they avoid blood sugar spike after eating. Protein however can cause an insulin spike so don’t overeat it. Read about 15 quick vegetarian protein recipes and 15 quick non-vegetarian protein recipes.
  6. Include turmeric and cinnamon that can lower blood sugar level and have anti-inflammation properties.
  7. Include nuts in the diet. They are good sources of fiber and healthy fats and low in carbs.
  8. Consume chia seeds and flax seeds as they are powerhouses for antioxidants and fiber and contain heart healthy Omega-3.
  9. Make it a habit to read nutrition labels before buying packaged items. It is surprising sometimes just how much sugar and carbs a seemingly healthy item can contain! Processed and refined food is everywhere so make sure to pay attention to the ingredients too.
  10. Include more of unsweetened yogurt, which is a low GI dairy item and the probiotics help in better digestion of food. Add fruits and nuts to it to make it a high-fiber filling snack meal.
  11. Even though eating raw vegetables and fruits are always better than cooking them, eating them with a dip like hummus or peanut butter will make them palatable. Made from chickpeas and peanuts, hummus and peanut butter are also a good source of protein so the combo makes an overall healthy snack for diabetics.
  12. Popcorn is a popular whole-grain snack for weight watchers and is high is fiber.
  13. Energy bars, but homemade and free of excess sugar and preservatives, is a good snack to carry. Read more recipes for healthy home made energy bars.
  14. Substitute sugar with sweeteners like stevia, agave or raw honey that have a low GI.
  15. Have regular small portions of meals and do not stay hungry for more than 6-7 hours at a stretch.

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