Healthy foods for diabetes

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People with diabetes should take healthy foods that meet their nutritional requirements but are low in glycemic index. Being diagnosed as having diabetes mellitus, makes a person gloomy about prospects for future.

Blue circle for diabetes
Blue circle logo
Global diabetes symbol

But there is no need for dejection and it requires only a small adjustment in our lifestyle and habits. However there are frightening consequences and complications from poorly controlled diabetes like retinopathy, blindness, renal failure, heart ailments, damage to peripheral nerves and loss of sensation.

My plate - Healthy foods for diabetes
My plate – Healthy foods for diabetes

Whether one has diabetes or not a well balanced nutritious food is required for healthy living. If a person with diabetes has to make changes in what he eats, it means that he was not taking balanced nutrition so far, may be all his family members too.

First of all we have to be clear in our mind about the types of healthy foods we require in our nutrition and also the types which are not healthy.

Eat balanced healthy foods for diabetes

All of us require a well balanced nutrition comprising fats (essential fatty acids), low GI carbohydrates, proteins (essential amino acids), soluble and-insoluble fiber, vitamins, minerals and water in required quantities and proportions.

Balanced good healthy food for diabetes
Balanced good healthy food for diabetes

Any chronic excess or chronic deficit of any of the components will affect our normal healthy living.

Healthy carbohydrate foods for diabetes

Carbohydrates are required for energy and for people with diabetes, the type of carbohydrates consumed really matters. Depending upon the type of carbohydrates in foods there are effects on the blood sugar levels.

The relative increase in blood glucose level when compared to glucose is termed as glycemic index or GI. Glucose has the GI of 100 and all other carbohydrates have a lesser value. If the carbohydrates in the food break down rapidly during digestion and release glucose into blood stream, they are termed as high GI foods.

There are foods having carbohydrates which break down more slowly during digestion releasing glucose gradually. These type of carbohydrates are known as low GI carbohydrates and are healthy for diabetes as they do not create spikes in glucose levels with their connected harmful effects.

Highly refined carbohydrates like white flour, polished white rice and sugar have high glycemic index, whereas whole grain flour and brown rice have moderately low GI. Even these low GI foods must be eaten in moderation as excess of them again will lead to obesity and insulin resistance.

Proteins for diabetes

Proteins are essential for tissue growth and repair. They must be sourced from low fat plant foods like beans and  deoiled seeds and also from healthy animal sources like poultry, fish and low-fat dairy products. Excess consumption of proteins can increase the load on kidneys.

Fats for diabetes

Though people with diabetes have to cut down their fats consumption, they should not totally stop taking them. For the healthy functioning of the body essential fatty acids are required. Plant sources like olive oil and animal sources like fish oil give good healthy unsaturated fatty acids useful for the body.

Dietary fibers for diabetes

Dietary fiber is essential for all of us, as they reduce the glycemic index by slowing down digestion and release of glucose into blood stream. Non starchy leafy vegetables and all types of beans are healthy sources of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Avoid unhealthy foods and drinks in diabetes

There are many foods which are not healthy and should be avoided both by healthy individuals and people with diabetes. For example bad saturated fatty acids and trans fats are found to increase the risks of heart disease by raising cholesterol and promoting inflammation.

Similarly intake of carbohydrates having high glycemic index like white sugar, white refined wheat flour, white rice and potatoes have to be reduced in diabetes as they cause sudden spurts and spikes in blood sugar (rather glucose) levels.

In diabetes alcoholic drinks are to be avoided as they provide almost as much calories as fats. Monitoring your blood sugar regularly and eating balanced healthy foods in moderation helps in control and management of diabetes.

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Images for healthy foods for diabetes
1.Image source:
Image author: International Diabetes Federation
Image license: Public domain
2.Image source:
Image author: USDA
Image license: Public domain
3.Image source:
Image author: National Institutes of Health
Image license: Public domain

Current topic in Nutrition and health benefits: Healthy foods for diabetes.