Subscribe to our Newsletter:
Healthy Diet Plans >>  Diabetic Diet >>  Nutrients

Nutrients For Diabetes

An important part in the prevention and management of diabetes is the diet. The correct diet will go a long way in helping you reduce the risk of developing diabetes or in managing an existing condition. The right diet will still let you enjoy your favorite foods and make mealtime a time to look forward to. The nutrients you require for diabetes management are still the same as everyone else’s and no special foods are required. By simply changing and improving your eating habits you can learn to keep your diabetes within check and manage your blood sugar levels quite effectively.
The key to this is eating in moderation and at regular mealtimes, and eating good wholesome food with adequate portions of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. More information on treatment for diabetes

Diabetics tend to have high levels of blood sugar because the cells of their bodies cannot absorb sugar from the bloodstream in the normal manner. This causes an increase in urine sugar levels as well as blood insulin levels. Left untreated, diabetes can lead to kidney damage, heart disease, poor circulation, erectile dysfunction and infections that do not respond to treatment. Of these, heart disease is the most dangerous, often claiming the lives of up to 80% of diabetics.

Most cases of diabetes can be prevented with simple lifestyle changes and some cases can even be reversed. By following a few simple steps you can regain control over your health and lead a normal life. The key to this is to eat a healthy diet, keep your weight in check and exercise regularly. The right diet for diabetics involves what you eat, when you eat and how much you eat.
Eat a wholesome balanced diet with plenty of fruits and greens. Cut back on refined carbohydrates and sugared drinks. Eat larger portions of green leafy vegetables like spinach, mustard greens and kale. Eat at least four portions of fruits like citrus fruits, cherries, blueberries every day. Nuts like almonds and walnuts, oats and other whole grain like barley, legumes and soy food are all good for diabetics. If you must eat meat, cut down on fatty and processed meats like pork and beef and stick to lean meat and fish. Cold water fish like salmon, mackerel and cod are very good for diabetics and also help keep your heart healthy. Use olive oil for your frying needs and use tomatoes, garlic and chili peppers liberally. Avoid concentrated sugars, dried fruits, saturated fats, trans fats and excessive fats from red meats.

Apart from eating a balanced meal, it is important to eat at fixed times at regular intervals. This will help keep your blood sugar levels in control. How much you eat at one time will also affect your blood sugar levels. Too much at a time is bad and will contribute to an increase in your body weight which is bad for diabetics. It is better instead to eat a smaller portion and have a light snack after about 3-4 hours. Remember, special foods are not required for diabetics. A diabetes diet is simply a healthy diet that is balanced nutritionally and is low in fats and calories.

There are many myths when it comes to a diabetes diet.

The most common myth is that sugar has to be avoided at all costs. This is simply not true. You can still enjoy your favorite sweets but only in moderation and as part of a proper diet plan in combination with an exercise routine. Another myth is that a high protein diet helps. This is simply not true. Studies have shown that too much protein may be the cause of increased insulin resistance. A healthy diet should strike a balance between proteins, carbohydrates, sugar and fats. Another myth relates to cutting down on carbohydrates. Carbohydrates do have an impact on blood sugar levels but do not have to be avoided. They should be eaten as part of a healthy balanced diet. What is important is the size of the serving and the kind of carbohydrates you eat.

Simple carbohydrates include processed and refined foods and have little nutritional value. They are also known as ‘empty carbs’. Candy, soda, snack foods, white rice, white bread and white flour are some examples of foods with simple carbohydrates. Eating these foods usually has a negative effect on blood sugar levels and should be avoided. Complex carbohydrates on the other hand take longer to digest and so help keep blood sugar levels more even. They even help you to stay full longer. They are found in legumes, starchy vegetables, and whole grains like steel cut or rolled oats, whole grain brown rice and millet.

So in your diet, eat brown rice instead of white rice, whole grain bread instead of white bread and steel cut or rolled oats instead of instant oatmeal. Make sure all the food groups are included in your meals, with vegetables making up the largest part. This should help you keep your blood sugar levels within limits. Another myth is the need for special diabetic meals and never being able to eat normally again. There is no need for special diabetic foods. Eating a healthy, balanced meal with the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats will go a long way in keeping your blood sugar levels in check.

One of the biggest problems that diabetics face is the craving for sweets. This is compounded by the myth that all forms of sugar should be avoided. Instead, you have to be sensible about sweets and have them in limited quantities. Remember, eating sweets means extra carbohydrates. If you must eat the occasional sweet, make sure that you cut back on some of the other carbohydrate bearing foods. These would include flour products like bread, crackers and tortillas, rice, cereal, potatoes etc. Do not do this too often as these carbohydrate bearing foods may also have other essential nutrients that your body needs.

Here are some ways to cut down on your sugar intake.

  • Drink sparkling water instead of soda.
  • Try eating a bowl of fresh fruit instead of ice cream or cake. Do not keep desserts or ice cream at home. Instead, have them occasionally when you eat out.
  • Keep a bowl of fresh fruit within easy access.
  • When treating yourself to a dessert, share it with a friend. Cutting down on your sugar intake in this manner will help keep your blood sugar levels in check. After some time you may even notice a lessening of your craving for sweets. Instead, your taste buds will get used to and crave for healthier foods.
The role of fiber in controlling blood sugar levels should not be underestimated. Fiber is the part of plants that cannot be digested by your body. It is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds and nuts. The less processed the food, the higher its fiber content. Many studies have been conducted that show that fiber has a beneficial effect on blood sugar levels and lowers the risk of heart disease. It helps you feel full and may even promote weight loss. This is another reason why a healthy diet for diabetics must contain a high proportion of vegetables.
Submitted on January 16, 2014