A well-balanced lifestyle is the cornerstone for people living with diabetes and those at risk, recommends Shilpa Joshi, head of Metabolic Nutrition, Fitterfly.
Diabetes is one of the major health problems affecting people globally today.
As per estimates, by 2025 about three-quarters of the world’s 300 million adults with diabetes will be from non-industrialised countries. A third of this will be India and China alone.
Diabetes is a condition in which it becomes difficult for the body to control blood sugar levels.
However, it is important to know that a diagnosis of diabetes does not mean the end of life.
Diabetes can be treated and managed to a great extent through lifestyle changes.
Since there are different types of diabetes, it is imperative that the treatment plan is also personalised and tailormade to suit individual needs.
Anyone who has been managing diabetes will be aware of the importance of healthy diet choices.
Apart from stress management, regular exercise, medication routine, what you consume has a big role to play in managing blood sugar levels and is key to preventing future complications.
Certain foods can help in curbing sugar spikes and improve insulin resistance.
A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, fibre, healthy proteins, and good fats is essential for people living with this condition.
Here are top 10 healthy foods to include in your diet if you want to manage your diabetes:
1. Pulses and legumes
Pulses and legumes do not lead to a sharp rise in blood glucose levels despite containing carbohydrates.
They are a good source of soluble fibre and their protein content slows the breakdown of carbohydrates into glucose.
Seeds like flaxseeds, pumpkin and chia — are low in calories and carbohydrates.
They help in lowering fasting blood glucose levels and enhancing glucose tolerance.
Consuming low calorie seeds at intervals can also reduce hunger pangs and cravings when included as a filler.
It also enables individuals with Type 2 diabetes to lose weight and maintain sugar levels too.
Cinnamon helps in treating cholesterol levels and heart issues.
It improves insulin sensitivity and therefore, helps in diabetes management.
A pinch of cinnamon on an empty stomach with water is a healthy way to begin your day.
4. Methi seeds
Fenugreek seeds are antidiabetic and help in lowering fasting blood glucose levels and enhancing glucose tolerance.
You may soak them in water and consume about 1 teaspoon per day.
Fruits that do not contain a high amount of sugar are good for people with diabetes. For instance, citrus fruits like orange are rich in fibre and low in sugar.
Since they are also low on calories, these fruits are beneficial in weight management as well.
Isabgol can help people with Type 2 diabetes in lowering blood glucose levels due to their high soluble fibre content.
One can consume 1 teaspoon soaked in water 30 minutes before lunch and dinner.
Nuts are delicious, nutritious and have a protective role against diabetes risk.
Walnuts, for example, are rich in fibre and low in net carbs.
Regular consumption of these can reduce inflammation and lower blood sugar, HbA1c (a marker for long-term blood sugar management), and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
8. Vegetables and leafy greens
Extremely nutritious and low in calories, vegetables and leafy green vegetables contain many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C as well.
Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory qualities and acts as a potent antioxidant.
A diet rich in Vitamin C can enable people living with diabetes to reduce inflammation and cellular damage.
When diabetes is not managed well, it can increase the risk of other complications.
As with anything else, what you eat has a lasting impact on your blood sugar levels as well.
Although the above foods can help in the management of blood sugar levels, an overall well-balanced lifestyle is the cornerstone for people living with diabetes and those at risk.
Even when you are eating out, make sure to remember the following points:
- Avoid foods that tempt you since they are the most likely to cause a spike in blood sugar levels. This includes sugary drinks and over sweetened items. When you order, stick to softer foods such as salads or grilled items. Avoid food that is high on calories.
- Hydrate yourself well. One of the important aspects of diabetes management is drinking plenty of water, before, during, and after meals. This helps in keeping blood sugar levels stable and avoiding spikes.
- Snacking is alright provided it is done carefully. Choose snacks that are healthy and low in sugar. For instance, fruits, nuts, seeds, and yogurt are good options. You can even opt for baked and grilled items.
Although living with diabetes can be challenging, it does not mean restricting life itself.
Timely management and following a healthy lifestyle are the cornerstones.
Shilpa Joshi is a nutritionist, diabetes educator and a registered dietitian at the Indian Dietetic Association with a post graduate degree in dietetics and clinical nutrition services and an MSc in microbiology.
She is a course director at the National Diabetes Educators Programme and has trained more than 3,000 diabetes educators in her career.
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