Diabetics need to be far more conscious of what they eat, compared to the rest of the non-diabetic population, because regulating blood sugar levels and managing weight are two key factors that can help you control the condition. In this light, diet is a major factor that comes into play and if you do not create a well-balanced diet plan, you could make the condition much worse.
Why is diet so important for sufferers of diabetes?
When your body is not able to properly break down the sugars and carbohydrates from the food and drink you consume, most of it gets stored as fat. In a normal person, this energy would be stored as fuel to be used throughout the day – glycogen – but in diabetics, the pancreas has a hard time breaking down this food to be used as glycogen.
Therefore, it is vital that diabetics eat specific kinds of foods and in the right quantities too. Any food and drink that spikes your insulin levels – i.e. makes them rise dramatically and then plummet just as dramatically – will lead to weight gain, lethargy, a general lack of energy throughout the day, and so on.
As a result, people with diabetes tend to develop certain health problems, including heart complications, varicose veins, liver and kidney problems, deteriorating eyesight, nerve damage, and a host of other issues – simply because they do not take the right dietary measures to control their blood sugar levels.
While it is important to consult a GP from time to time in order to have your blood sugar levels and blood pressure monitored (among other things), at the minimum you should be incorporating the following changes into your diet:
- Eat foods rich in complex and starchy carbohydrates. This more or less means fruits and vegetables rich in fibre, lots of green, leafy vegetables in particular and fruits which aren’t too high in sugar (fructose) and high in fibre – e.g. apples, oranges, grapefruits, bananas, avocados, kiwi fruit, etc.
- Increase your overall fibre intake. Nuts, seeds, beans, peas and legumes are all good sources of fibre. In addition, always have whole-wheat bread, pasta and rice, and begin your day with high-fibre cereal or some whole eggs and bran bread.
- Increase omega-3 intake. Since diabetics are at a higher risk of heart disease and inflammatory conditions, they need to consume a fair amount of fish – a minimum of twice a week is a good starting point. Sardines, tuna and mackerel are great sources of heart-friendly and cholesterol-lowering omega-3 fatty acids, although you’d want to avoid certain kinds of fish such as king mackerel, which have high levels of mercury. Fried fish should be avoided entirely.
- Increase intake of healthy fats. A diet rich in protein, low in complex carbohydrates and moderate in healthy fats is ideal for diabetics and pre-diabetics as well. Make it a habit to consume foods with mono and polyunsaturated fats, such as walnuts, almonds, avocados, olives, peanuts, seeds, etc.
- Stay away from high-sugar and high-sodium foods at all costs!
Consult our friendly GP now who will prescribe a tailored diet plan to keep your symptoms well within the safe range.