With as many as 50 million people suffering from Type-2 diabetes, India is the diabetes capital of the world. The burden is expected to increase further in the years to come with the WHO estimating a spike of 58 percent, from 51 million people in 2010 to 87 million in 2030.
But what is diabetes? Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar. This can be if insulin production is inadequate if the body’s cells don’t respond to insulin or both. Diabetes can be Type 1, also called juvenile diabetes and a condition in which the body does not produce insulin at all, or Type 2, in which the body does not produce enough insulin for proper function or turns resistant to insulin.
Keeping diabetes under control is critical to living a long and healthy life and this is where diet comes in. The right diet plays an extremely important role in keeping blood sugar levels under control and ensuring that diabetics can lead a normal life.
Opt for foods that are low in fat and calories and high in fibre and proteins. The fibre slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream, preventing blood sugar spikes that worsen blood sugar control and make you feel hungry. Diabetics must include a lot of low glycemic index foods – those that lead to a steady rise in the level of glucose in the blood and a gentle rise in insulin – in their diet.
Are there any superfoods that can help beat diabetes?
A Finnish study revealed that men who ate the most apples and other foods high in quercetin had 20 percent less diabetes and heart disease deaths. An apple a day can really keep the doctor away.
Opt for fruits that are rich in fibre, soluble as well as insoluble, to help keep sugar levels under control. Citrus fruits, guavas, and pears are recommended. Always opt for whole fruits over fruit juices, and avoid eating fruits after a meal as it can spike your blood sugar.
Low in fat and high in proteins, legumes can be a diabetic’s best friend. They are also a good source of protein and fibre. Include all kinds of legumes in your diet, be they chickpeas, kidney beans, cannelloni beans or lentils.
Both these foods are high in omega-3 fatty acids, “good fat” that can reduce lower artery-clogging LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and boost levels of HDL “good” cholesterol. Studies have linked increased sugar level to increased circulating blood cholesterol levels.
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center researchers found that increasing fibre intake from 24 to 50 gm each day could dramatically improve blood sugar levels. Try and get in a good mix with fruits, vegetables, legumes, brown rice, and whole-grain pasta, cereals, and bread.
Researchers at the Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland, found that consuming the ½ teaspoon of cinnamon each day can make cells more sensitive to insulin. They end up converting blood sugar to energy. Regular consumption of this superfood can help clear your arteries.
Should diabetics follow a particular routine when it comes to meals/snacks?
Eating on time is the most important thing for anyone with diabetes. It can prevent blood sugar fluctuation. If you delay your meals, it may lead to hypoglycemia; overindulging at any time may lead to hyperglycemia. Moderation and being on time is key.
What can pre-diabetics do?
Pre-diabetics are prone to diabetes. They must ensure that BMI and fat percentage is normal at all times. They must inculcate the habit of eating low glycemic index foods and stay away from processed and refined foods. This, along with proper exercise, can help control pre-diabetes.
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Would you have any other advice for diabetic/pre-diabetic patients?
- Opt for fibre-rich foods.
- Avoid processed and refined foods, aerated beverages, sweets, and sugary foods.
- Make it a point to eat on time and opt for small frequent low glycemic index meals.
- Watch your consumption of potatoes, beets, carrots, white rice, chikan, custard apples, grapes, and mangoes.
- Make time for consistent physical activity under guidance.
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