One of the commonest questions that specialists like Best Internal Medicine Specialist in Islamabad get asked from newly diagnosed diabetics is: what are the right foods for them. While there is nothing that is strictly off-limits for them, eating in moderation is key. Read on to know more about what diabetics should eat:
What constitutes a sensible diabetic diet?
The goal with a good diabetic diet is: to consume foods with low glycemic index (GI), incorporating plenty of lean proteins, meats and fish, adding fiber and minimizing the consumption of salts and saturated fats. Eating foods based on this can help prevent the long-term complications of diabetes, and maintains good glycemic control.
Some of the recommended foods for diabetes include:
Fatty fish are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which not only improve cardiovascular health, but also reduce inflammatory markers linked with heart disease and risk of stroke. These fatty acids also improve vascular health, by protecting the innermost lining of the vessels.
Regular consumption of fish rich in fatty acids diminishes the risk of sudden cardiac death and lowers the risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack. In diabetics, this is very helpful as high blood sugar levels are constantly damaging the vasculature and putting one at risk of heart disease.
Studies show improved post-meal sugar levels in overweight diabetics, who regularly consumed fatty fish.
Leafy greens keep one full, are rich in nutritious minerals and vitamins, and low in digestible carbs. They are, therefore, the ideal food for diabetics. Examples of leafy greens include: kale, spinach and celery.
Adding them to the diet improves the iron levels in the body, as well as, the vitamin D and C concentrations. There is evidence that diabetics have higher vitamin C requirement than non-diabetics, and leafy greens are certainly rich in it.
Another wonderful food for diabetics is chia seeds. They are not only low in carb, but also high in viscous fiber, which helps to lower blood sugar levels by slowing their absorption in the gut. This fiber also makes you feel full for longer and maintains good glycemic control. Research data shows that diabetics who consume chia seeds are able to lose weight faster, and have lower inflammatory markers in the body.
Long-term study data shows that serving of yogurt helps to lose weight and improves body composition in type 2 diabetics. It also keeps you full for a longer time due to high content of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). In comparison to conventional yogurt, Greek yogurt is lower in carbohydrates, and a good option for healthy blood sugar levels.
Another food with low net carbs and high nutrition content is nuts. Research on different nuts has highlighted that their consumption is linked to lower inflammation and improved blood sugar control with lower levels of bad cholesterol—LDL. Nuts improve heart health and the risk of sudden death.
Beans are a great source of fiber, B-vitamins and beneficial minerals like magnesium, potassium and calcium. In addition, they have a low glycemic index and are quite filling. Studies show that consumption of beans regularly decreases the risk of cardiovascular disorders and even type 2 diabetes.
What foods should diabetics avoid?
In general, diabetics should avoid:
- Processed food
- Canned food
- Readymade meals
- Fast food
- White pasta, bread and pastries
Adjusting the foods according to the glycemic control
A good way to know if the foods you are eating are suitable for you or not, is to check the pre- and post-meal blood sugar levels. Best Internal Medicine Specialist in Karachi recommend maintaining a record, so that the foods and the schedule of drugs can be adjusted, accordingly. In most cases, testing 2 hours before meals, and 4 hours after meals is a good time to check the effect of food.