Diabetes is a condition of constantly elevated blood glucose levels, also called blood sugar levels. This is because either the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, the hormone responsible for turning sugar into energy, or it can not use the insulin well enough.
Over time, high sugar levels can cause damage to the organs and their functions. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the bodily systems and parts that can be affected by neglecting elevated blood sugar levels for a long time are:
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for diabetes. Once it has been diagnosed, we must learn to live with it. We can, however, educate ourselves on how to manage and prevent the condition from worsening.
The two complementary methods recommended by NIDDK for keeping diabetes under control are following a healthy diet and having an active lifestyle.
Amy’s Eden has put up this short guide on what food and drinks diabetics should consume and what to avoid to help you make the right dietary choices and manage the condition with ease.
The bodies of people with Type 1 diabetes do not produce any insulin. For this reason, they need to take a dose of the hormone daily. This type is usually common in children, but it may appear at any age.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common one and typically occurs in middle-aged and older people, although nowadays, it has become more frequent in young adults too.
People with type 2 diabetes usually have insufficient quantities of insulin, or their bodies can’t use the hormone well enough. Depending on the stage of the condition, patients with type 2 diabetes may have to take insulin-regulating drugs or the hormone itself.
Gestational diabetes develops only in pregnant women and disappears after they give birth. Sometimes it may be a warning sign for type 2 diabetes later in life. Women with gestational diabetes have to follow a strict diet during their pregnancy in order to carry a healthy baby to term.
The glucose, or sugar in our bodies, is very closely related to what we consume – food and beverages included. Learning how to feed our bodies to help keep the blood sugar levels from spiking is the first and most crucial way to manage our diabetes.
This involves losing weight if we are overweight or obese and making healthy choices about what and when we eat and drink, together with strictly following the medication treatment plan prescribed by our doctor.
If you have been newly diagnosed with diabetes, your healthcare provider has probably informed you that you must be careful of what you consume. However, do not despair; there is no need to give up your favorite foods completely. You may have to shrink the portions or simply eat them less often.
Experts at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) agree that the diabetes eating plan should consist of a wide variety of healthy foods.
The food groups that must be present on the menu of a person with diabetes are:
When selecting what to include in your diet, always prefer foods with a low glycemic index, rich in fiber, and poor in saturated fat, sugar, and salt.
These are the two most important food groups and should be a central part of the diabetic diet. This means that they must constitute half of each portion of the day’s main meals. Non-starchy vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli, peppers, leek, spinach, carrots, leafy greens, and tomatoes, should be preferred to starchy ones.
Fruits containing less natural sugar (fructose) such as grapefruit, oranges, all kinds of berries, melons, and green apples, must be the first choice.
Grains are suitable for people with diabetes as long as they are whole grains. Foods like whole wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, barley, and quinoa have a lower glycemic index, meaning it takes longer for the body to digest them. Therefore, their consumption would not cause a sudden rise in diabetic blood glucose levels.
Protein is a vital part of the human diet as it supplies us with some key amino acids our bodies can not create otherwise. When selecting protein foods, people with diabetes should choose legumes first, nuts second, and then fatty fish, according to dietitians. People with diabetes need to eat fiber-rich protein that contains a low amount of saturated fats.
Dairy foods on the diabetic menu should be low-fat or non-fat products. This is due to the fact that many diabetics also suffer from high blood pressure. Eating low-fat dairy products can prevent the accumulation of high cholesterol in the blood and combat elevated blood pressure. Low-fat dairy can lower the risk of diabetes in some cases as well.
Fats considered healthy for diabetics, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), are monosaturated fats. These come from avocados, canola, nuts, olives, peanuts, and safflower. They are recommended because studies have shown that their daily use lowers the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood.
Another essential type is polyunsaturated fats which are also thought to affect cholesterol levels positively. These are more well-known with the names Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats and can be found in fatty fish, flax seeds, walnuts, tofu, sunflower seeds, and eggs.
Since diabetes mean that your body can not produce insulin and therefore can not deal with glucose, it is best to avoid foods and drinks with high sugar content.
Unfortunately, this does not mean only sweets but also foods high in carbohydrates, as they cause high blood sugar levels to spike. This does not mean carbs should be eliminated completely from your diet, but you need to significantly limit and consume them in small portions.
Foods containing a lot of sugar are:
Other foods that need to be avoided are:
Diabetics should also limit their alcohol intake as alcoholic beverages have a high amount of sugar. Additionally, there is a danger of alcohol lowering your blood sugar level too much if you are on any insulin drugs.
Superfoods are called ‘super’ because they are rich in vitamins and minerals and are generally paramount for people with diabetes. It is worth mentioning that this is not a term officially adopted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but many food and drink producers use it for advertising their products.
Another important thing to remember is that the best food for diabetics is food that hasn’t been processed. Natural, bio, or organic produce without additives, coloring, and preservatives should always be preferred to processed food coming from a package, box, can, or bag.
Please note that the food choices suggested by Amy’s Eden below comply with the ADA and NIDDK. They are vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber-rich foods that, consumed regularly, will help you manage your diabetes condition. These foods are also effective in preventing diabetes occurrence.
Living and thriving with a diabetic condition is not only possible but also a reality for a large portion of the population. The older our loved ones and we get, the higher the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
In order to create the best possible conditions and support your beloved family members or yourself, based on advice from ADA and NiDDK, our specialists at Amy’s Eden recommend a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruit, healthy protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
The key to this is to make wise choices and consume a large variety of non-processed, unrefined, low-in-sugar, carbs, salt, and saturated fat foods and beverages. Such a diet can prevent further complications of the condition and lower the chances of developing diabetes in people with high BMI or those with a genetic risk of the disease.
However, don’t forget to consult your nutritionist, as they can advise you better on diabetic superfoods ideal for you.
If you have a diabetic elderly loved one who would benefit from the assistance of a caregiver, Amy’s Eden caregivers can provide exceptional care to improve their quality of life. Contact us today to find the ideal caregiver for your loved one.
Get care >