A lack of insulin production or an inability to use insulin can result in a spike in blood sugar levels leading to diabetes. The constant spike in the blood sugar levels can result in damaged blood vessels and nerve cells. Not only that, but it can also affect other body organs leading to vision loss, kidney damage and a higher risk of disease and stroke. This situation can only be controlled by lowering blood sugar levels through a healthy diet, exercise and proper intake of medicines at regular timings. Diet plays a vital role in the management of Diabetes mellitus. A diabetic person’s diet should consist of everyday foods included in amounts needed to maintain an ideal body weight and control blood sugar levels. The following foods should be incorporated into the diet to maintain a healthy blood sugar level –
- Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a rich source of antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and magnesium. All these are important nutrients to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and the complications of diabetes. One ounce of chia seeds provides 10 g of fiber. It is advisable for an adult to consume 24 – 33 g of fibers depending on their age and sex.
- Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of magnesium, fiber and healthy fatty acids. Our body needs magnesium to break down the food for energy. It is very commonly seen in diabetic patients that due to insulin resistance they have low magnesium levels, which is one of the reasons for diabetes. Consuming magnesium-rich food has shown to reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes. It is advisable for adults to consume pumpkin seeds to keep their blood sugar levels in check.
Walnuts are a healthy source of fiber, protein and healthy fats. It’s also seen that people who consumed nuts more appeared to have reduced risks of gaining weight than those who didn’t. When a diabetic patient loses weight, their blood sugar levels improve too. The soluble and insoluble fibers in nuts can help in improving blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of complications of diabetes.
- Whole Grain Bread
Whole grains have higher protein and nutrient content and are also rich in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Studies have shown that consuming whole grain bread especially sprouted grain bread have shown to improve blood sugar levels in people with obesity.
Studies have shown that consuming cinnamon has helped to lower the blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. According to a recently conducted study by a leading diabetic institute, people with diabetes who consumed cinnamon supplementation saw improved levels of body mass index (BMI), blood sugar levels and lipid levels than those who didn’t. You can consume cinnamon by putting it on sweet potato or roasted carrots, stirring it in tea or warm milk, and by sprinkling it on oatmeal instead of sugar.
Foods with a low glycemic index (GI) are considered to be best for diabetic patients as they slowly release the sugar into the bloodstream. These foods do not trigger any spike in the blood sugar level in this process. Fresh, whole tomatoes are one of the foods with a low glycemic index (GI) and high content of fiber, the factors that make a person feel full for a longer period. Studies have shown that consuming 1-2 medium-sized tomatoes/day had lowered the blood pressure in diabetic patients after 8 weeks. So it is safe to say that, consuming tomatoes might also help in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases related to type 2 diabetes.
Strawberries are a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants. Doctors say that consuming strawberries lowers the brain and kidney complications in patients with diabetes. Not just the nutritional value, strawberries are a very tasty fruit that can be incorporated into your meal. Although, it should be noted that a cup of strawberry contains 7 g of sugar, so diabetic patients should take that into account and avoid adding sugar to it.
Avocado the superfood is a good source of healthy fats, vitamins, fibers and minerals. Avocados are one of the major sources for potassium, vitamins C, E, and K, lutein, and beta-carotene. Studies have shown that food containing healthy fats increases fullness. Consuming these healthy fats trims down the digestion of carbohydrates thus maintaining a stable blood sugar level. Half a fruit of avocado contains around 6 – 7 grams of fiber, the intake of which can lower the complications and risks of diabetes.
When a plant-based food has a high content of antioxidants it is called as an anti-inflammatory food. These foods help in lowering inflammation which means they can help in treating the symptoms and long-term risks of diseases such as diabetes. Due to high antioxidants, ginger too has anti-inflammatory properties. Based on recent studies, ginger is shown to reduce the fasting blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes thus improving their insulin sensitivity. The best way to consume ginger is to peel it freshly in boiling water and make ginger tea or else add fresh ginger to a homemade salad as dressings.
- Green leafy vegetables
According to the recent studies conducted, low potassium intake has been linked to a higher risk of diabetes and its complications. Leafy vegetables like spinach, methi, cabbage etc. are considered to be a good source of dietary potassium. A cup of spinach provides 167mg of potassium and a range of vitamins and minerals. Green leafy vegetables can be consumed in smoothies, as a dressing on sandwiches, stir-fried with olive oil on an omelet or by using it in pasta sauce.
In conclusion, for a diabetic person, proper diet, regular exercise and medication is very important. A diabetic person should maintain regular meal timings – instead of 3 major meals, they should split meals into 6 potions and should not take large meals at a time. They should consume foods that will lower blood sugar levels and are a good source of fiber, lean protein, slow-digesting carbohydrates and healthy fats. Always opt for veggies, grains, beans and berries over white bread and pasta. Always avoid food with a high GI index, go for food with low GI index like oatmeal, muesli and non-starchy vegetables. Apart from diet, a diabetic person should never miss a meal or medication, should avoid alcohol on empty stomach and maintain an ideal body weight.