Foods that fight diabetes, in a diabetic diet, include barley, oats, fish, peas, lentils and peanuts. They lower blood sugar and fight against diabetic complications like kidney disease, hypertension and heart disease.
A diabetic diet is crucial in managing diabetes. Diabetes is a metabolic disease affecting the body’s ability to derive sugar from blood glucose. Classic symptoms include the three Ps: polyuria (frequent urination), polydipsia (increased thirst) and polyphagia (increased hunger).
Two Types of Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
There are two types of Diabetes Mellitus. Type 1 diabetes, also called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), is also known as juvenile onset diabetes mellitus, because the disease often develops during childhood. In this type of diabetes the pancreas is no longer producing insulin, a hormone crucial for metabolism, regulating blood sugar and promoting glycogen storage in the liver.
Type 1 diabetics should thus take a daily insulin shot to compensate for the need that the body is no longer able to provide.
Type 2 Diabetes
The most common type, affecting over 90 percent of diabetics, is Type 2 diabetes, or non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), also known as adult onset diabetes mellitus. In this type of diabetes, the pancreas still produces insulin. But the cells have become resistant to insulin. Thus glucose accumulates over time in the blood stream because cells do not take in the sugar for energy as they should. Type 2 diabetes is often referred to as "insulin resistant" diabetes.
For most Type 2 diabetics diet and exercise can prove effective. Some need oral medications and even occasional insulin injections to normalize blood glucose levels.
Foods that might help maintain optimal blood glucose levels for diabetics.
The body’s main source for energy is the glucose (sugar) from carbohydrates. But carbohydrates like white rice quickly increases blood glucose levels sharply. Thus diabetics should choose carbohydrates with high fiber content, because fiber slows down the release of glucose to the blood stream Sources of high-fiber carbohydrates include:
• Oat cereals
Soluble fiber found in oatmeal may even help in lowering blood sugar levels. Insoluble fiber in green vegetables and whole grains provides a feeling of fullness on fewer calories, countering the constant pangs of hunger in diabetics.
Fish for Diabetics
Diabetics often have high triglyceride and low HDL (high density lipoprotein) levels. Omega 3 fatty acids from fish can lower triglycerides and raise HDL.
Peanuts for Diabetics
Regular consumption of food rich in monounsaturated fats like peanuts helps decrease bad cholesterol levels. A study published in the Journal of American Medical Association found that eating peanuts may lower the risk for Type 2 diabetes in women.
A deficiency of the trace mineral chromium has been linked to low glucose tolerance. Chromium assists insulin in its job in transferring glucose from the blood stream to the cells, which is important in metabolism. Chromium is found in the following food sources:
• Wheat bran
• Whole grains
• Chicken breast
• Blackstrap molasses
Chromium supplements may provide beneficial effects to blood glucose control. The regular multivitamin pill contains about 50 mcg of chromium. No more than 200 mcg a day of chromium supplementation is recommended. But before taking chromium supplements, don’t forget to consult a physician or a dietician.
Low Fat Diet for Diabetics
High fat diets—especially with saturated and hydrogenated fats—contribute to obesity, which is a major risk factor of heart disease, especially for Type 2 diabetes. Whereas monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—found in vegetable oils, nuts, fish and avocado—are good for the heart. They slow down the digestive process, thus stabilizing blood sugar levels. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats also reduce insulin resistance.
Diet for Diabetics
Diet plays a key role in optimizing blood sugar levels. It prevents or delays the complications associated with diabetes like diabetic retinopathy, kidney disease, hypertension and heart disease. To work out a diet plan one must consult a physician or dietician, as diet planning take into consideration factors like age and other preexisting health concerns. Those who take medications for other purposes should also be very careful before embarking on a diet plan. There are more foods that fight diabetes, like apples, almonds, apricots and avocados, or dried fruit, eggplant, fennel, fenugreek and seafood, or garlic, ginger, grapes, kiwi fruit and grapefruit.
A vegetarian diet may prove effective against diabetes, as a result of lower body weight and the high fiber that comes from vegetables.
Photo by falcon1961 at Flickr.com
Foods that Harm, Foods that Heal: An A to Z Guide to Safe and Healthy Eating. The Reader’s Digest. 2004, Montreal, Canada. 416 pages. Hardbound.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.