Are you struggling to manage your diabetes? Learn about the foods that help diabetics so you can control your blood sugar levels and improve your health.
Did you know that over 500 million adults around the world are living with diabetes? This chronic disease occurs when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin, leading to high levels of glucose in the blood known as hyperglycemia.
Now, there are two types of diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2. If your body cannot produce insulin at all, you have Type 1 and will need to consume insulin in the form of injections. On the other hand, if your body produces insulin but not enough, you have Type 2.
One of the best ways to manage diabetes is through your diet. Even minor negligence can cause your blood glucose levels to spike, potentially leading to serious health issues like heart attacks or blood clots.
The good news is that there are plenty of food options for diabetic patients. What natural foods are good for diabetes? But with so much information out there, it can be overwhelming to know what to eat.
That is why we have put together a comprehensive guide to help you make informed choices about the foods that can help you manage your diabetes.
Table of Contents
What Natural Foods are Good for Diabetes? – Control Diabetes Through What You Eat
If you are looking for ways to control your diabetes through food, meal planning is key. It helps you know what to eat, how much to consume, and when to eat.
To help you get started, we have compiled a list of important nutrients and foods that are beneficial for diabetic patients. We have also included two highly popular and top rated cookbooks to try out.
Foods that Help Diabetics – Protein
We know that protein is a macronutrient that is required for building and repairing tissues in our body. But did you know that it also helps control blood sugar levels?
When you consume protein, it absorbs excess glucose in the blood, thus keeping your sugar levels stable.
Unlike carbohydrates, proteins are complex compounds that break down more slowly into glucose. This means that the body remains busy with break down and ignores glucose absorption into the bloodstream.
As a result, including protein in your meals can help you feel more energetic and fuller for longer periods of time.
So, what are the best sources of protein for diabetic patients? Beans, such as kidney, black, or white beans, are a great option as they contain no saturated fats and do not spike blood glucose levels.
One cup of beans can fulfill the requirement of 1/2 ounce of meat. In addition, beans are an excellent choice for weight loss as they can help you feel full and prevent overeating of unhealthy foods.
Nuts and seeds are also good plant-based sources of protein. Pistachios in particular are a great option for diabetic patients as they help to improve blood sugar levels and strengthen the immune system.
One cup of nuts contains 25 grams of protein, which is fantastic for meeting your daily protein needs and help steer you away from sugary snacks.
Foods that Help Diabetics – Fiber
Fiber is another essential nutrient that can help diabetic patients maintain their blood sugar levels. It is also great for promoting a healthy heart and preventing cancer.
Unlike proteins, fiber is even stronger and cannot be broken down into glucose by the body. As a result, it does not increase sugar levels and can be safely consumed by both type 1 and type 2 diabetic patients.
You can find fiber in a variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. When it comes to grains, it is best to choose whole grains over refined grains.
This is because during the refinement process, important fibers and nutrients are washed away, leaving behind a fine powder that lacks the natural benefits of fiber. So, if you want to enjoy the full benefits of natural fiber, opt for whole grains.
Incorporating fiber-rich foods into your diet can help you feel fuller for longer periods of time, which can prevent overeating and promote weight loss.
In addition, fiber can help regulate bowel movements and improve overall digestive health. So, including plenty of fiber in your meals help keep your blood sugar levels stable and your body healthy.
Water is essential for everyone, especially for diabetic patients. Drinking enough water helps to regulate blood sugar levels and keeps the body hydrated. When the body is dehydrated, the glucose in the blood becomes more concentrated, leading to high blood sugar levels.
Drinking plenty of water can also help to prevent other diabetes-related complications such as kidney disease and urinary tract infections. Water is necessary for the kidneys to function properly and flush out toxins from the body.
In addition, water has no calories, no sugar, and no carbohydrates, which makes it an ideal drink for diabetic patients. Unlike sugary beverages, water won’t cause spikes in blood sugar levels. It also helps to keep the body feeling full, which can prevent overeating and weight gain.
Therefore, diabetic patients should aim to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water per day. They should also monitor their water intake if they are taking medications for diabetes, as some medications can cause excessive urination and dehydration.
Foods that Help Diabetics – Avoid Sugar
When it comes to diabetes, it important to keep an eye on your sugar intake. Processed sugar is a big no and particularly harmful for those with diabetes, as it can cause a significant spike in blood sugar levels.
The body breaks down sugar into its smallest compound, glucose, which is absorbed into the bloodstream, causing an increase in blood sugar levels. This can have adverse effects on the body, leading to various health issues.
Diabetic patients already have a high glucose content in their blood, and processed sugar can further elevate it. Extra sugar is stored in the form of fat, which can lead to problems in the pancreas and liver. This can put added stress on the pancreas and liver, leading to further complications.
While cutting out processed sugar entirely may be difficult, it is important to limit your intake as much as possible. Natural sweeteners like honey or Stevia can be a great alternative to processed sugar to satisfy your sweet cravings.
Not only do they add sweetness to your food, but they also offer other health benefits. Honey, for example, has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Keep in mind that cutting down on sugar intake can be beneficial for overall health, not just for diabetic patients.
Is Brown Sugar Also a Good Alternative for Diabetics?
Brown sugar is not a good alternative for diabetics as it is still a form of processed sugar. Brown sugar is essentially white sugar that has molasses added to it, giving it its characteristic color and flavor.
While it may contain slightly more minerals than white sugar, such as calcium, iron, and potassium, the difference is negligible in terms of its impact on blood sugar levels.
Therefore, it is best for diabetics to avoid or limit their consumption of brown sugar, just like any other form of processed sugar.
If a sweetener is needed, it is better to opt for natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or stevia, which have a lower glycemic index and will not cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels.
However, it is still important to use these natural sweeteners in moderation and as part of an overall balanced diet.
What Natural Foods Are Good For Diabetes? – Choose Fats Wisely
Many people have a negative perception of fats, but it’s important to know that not all fats are unhealthy. In fact, some fats are essential for providing energy and improving diabetes management.
Healthy fats are beneficial for insulin production and can improve type 2 diabetes by consuming polyunsaturated fats. In addition, healthy fats can control post-meal glucose levels, promote hormone production, and provide energy.
Foods that Help Diabetics – Olive Oil
is an excellent source of healthy fatty acids and bioactive compounds, which provide numerous health benefits to the human body. Drizzling olive oil over vegetables, salads, or soups not only enhances the flavor but also provides health benefits.
Foods that Help Diabetics – Avocado
is another great source of healthy fats. It is a fiber-rich fruit that is also high in monounsaturated fats. Eating an avocado in the morning can help decrease glucose levels. Other healthy fats that diabetics can include in their diet include nuts, seeds, fatty fish like salmon, and coconut oil.
Foods that Help Diabetics – Nuts and Seeds
Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and other nuts and seeds are a great source of healthy fats, fiber, and protein. They also help in reducing inflammation and improving heart health.
Foods that Help Diabetics – Fatty Fish
Salmon, tuna, sardines, and other fatty fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory properties and can help in reducing the risk of heart disease.
Foods that Help Diabetics – Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that are metabolized differently from other fats. MCTs are quickly converted into ketones which can be used as a source of energy for the body.
What Natural Foods are Good for Diabetes? Try Cheese
Cheese is a good source of protein and healthy fats. It also contains calcium and vitamin D which are important for bone health.
It is important to remember that while healthy fats can be beneficial for diabetics, they should be consumed in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.
Example of a 7-Day Meal Plan
Below is an example of a 7-day meal plan for a person with diabetes:
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with spinach and mushrooms, a slice of whole-grain toast and a small apple
- Snack: Carrot sticks with hummus
- Lunch: Grilled chicken breast with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and olive oil dressing
- Snack: A handful of mixed nuts
- Dinner: Baked salmon with roasted Brussels sprouts and quinoa
- Breakfast: Greek yogurt with blueberries, almonds and a drizzle of honey
- Snack: A pear with almond butter
- Lunch: Grilled chicken salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette
- Snack: Celery sticks with peanut butter
- Dinner: Turkey chili with kidney beans, chopped vegetables and a side salad
- Breakfast: Oatmeal with chopped walnuts, cinnamon and a small banana
- Snack: Roasted chickpeas
- Lunch: Tuna salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and a side of sliced whole-grain bread
- Snack: Apple slices with cheddar cheese
- Dinner: Grilled steak with roasted asparagus and sweet potato
- Breakfast: Whole-grain waffle with peanut butter and mixed berries
- Snack: Homemade trail mix with nuts and seeds
- Lunch: Quinoa bowl with grilled chicken, roasted vegetables, and avocado
- Snack: Cottage cheese with sliced cucumber
- Dinner: Baked chicken with steamed broccoli and brown rice
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with whole-grain toast, sliced avocado and tomato
- Snack: Kale chips
- Lunch: Grilled shrimp salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and lemon vinaigrette
- Snack: Sugar-free yogurt with mixed berries
- Dinner: Baked salmon with roasted cauliflower and green beans
- Breakfast: Smoothie bowl with Greek yogurt, mixed berries, and almond butter
- Snack: Baby carrots with hummus
- Lunch: Turkey wrap with whole-grain tortilla, mixed greens, tomato, avocado, and mustard
- Snack: Hard-boiled egg with cherry tomatoes
- Dinner: Grilled chicken skewers with bell peppers and onions, served with brown rice
- Breakfast: Chia seed pudding with mixed berries and chopped almonds
- Snack: Sugar-free dark chocolate
- Lunch: Lentil soup with a side salad
- Snack: A small apple with almond butter
- Dinner: Baked sweet potato topped with black beans, salsa, and avocado
Note: This meal plan is just an example, and only meant to guide you. It is important to tailor it to individual needs and preferences, as well as to consult a registered dietitian or healthcare provider before making significant changes to your diet.
Conclusion – Foods that Help Diabetics
Uncovering the secrets behind foods that help diabetics is really not as mysterious as it sounds. It all boils down to regulating blood sugar.
By incorporating nutrient-dense, fiber-rich, and low glycemic index foods, along with healthy fats and proper hydration, diabetics can regulate their blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of complications associated with the disease.
It is best to consult with a registered dietitian or a healthcare provider to personalize a meal plan that suits individual needs and preferences.
With the right knowledge and guidance, taking control of your diet with the right foods that help diabetics can positively impact your overall health and wellbeing.
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Franz, M. J. et al (2021). Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Nutrition Practice Guideline for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes in Adults: Systematic Review of Evidence for Medical Nutrition Therapy Effectiveness and Recommendations for Integration into the Nutrition Care Process. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 121(10), 1931–1963.e3. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2021.05.009
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