The most important therapy for diabetes is a healthful diet. These dietary suggestions will help regulate your levels of blood sugar and also reduce your risk of complications, such as cardiovascular disease.
Make sure to eat three meals a day at regular times, keeping portions moderate. Never skip breakfast, which leads to blood glucose fluctuations in the morning. Keep your snacks small, choosing nuts, seeds, protein drinks, vegetables, or fruit. Focus on consuming at least two servings of fruits and three or more servings of vegetables per day. Many diabetics notice better glucose control by including small portions of protein at every meal. Examples include nuts such as almonds, walnuts, or cashews, fish, chicken, turkey, or other lean meat. Foods shown to reduce glucose levels include vinegar (use in salad dressings), grapefruit, peanuts and peanut butter, chili, and cinnamon.
It is particularly important to limit refined carbohydrates such as those found in white flours, candy, fruit juice, soda pop, etc. Natural sweeteners such as Luo Han Go, stevia, and xylitol are excellent substitutes for baking or beverage sweeteners and do not adversely affect blood glucose levels. They are commonly available in health food stores.
Follow a diet that’s high in fiber (vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains). Watersoluble fiber, as found in oat bran, beans, nuts, seeds, and apples, helps to balance blood sugar. Ground flaxseeds should be consumed daily. Consume 1 tablespoon with each meal or 1/4 cup daily. Make sure to drink plenty of clean, quality water when you start taking flaxseeds (10 ounces per tablespoon). A daily total of 50 mg of fiber is a great goal. Consume vegetable protein (legumes, nuts, seeds, peas) or lean animal protein (turkey, chicken, fish) with each meal. Protein drinks that have low sugar levels can be consumed. Protein helps smooth out blood sugar levels. Many people with diabetes benefit from increasing the relative amount of protein in the diet.
Sixty people with type 2 diabetes (thirty men and thirty women) were divided randomly into six groups. Groups 1, 2, and 3 consumed 1, 3, or 6 grams of cinnamon daily, respectively, and groups 4, 5, and 6 were given placebo capsules corresponding to the number of capsules consumed for the three levels of cinnamon. The cinnamon was consumed for forty days, followed by a twenty-day washout period. Researchers found that after forty days, all three levels of cinnamon reduced the mean fasting serum glucose (18-29 percent), triglyceride (23-30 percent), LDL cholesterol (7-27 percent), and total cholesterol (12-26 percent) levels. There were no significant changes found in the placebo groups.
Focus on quality fats. Fish such as salmon is excellent, as are nuts and seeds. Use olive and flaxseed oil with your salads.
Instead of eating three large meals, have several smaller meals throughout the day to keep your insulin and blood sugar levels steady. Or have three main meals with healthy snacks in between. Chromium deficiency has been linked to diabetes, so eat lots of brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, whole grains, cheese, soy products, onions, and garlic. Onions and garlic will also help lower blood sugar levels and protect against heart disease.
Enjoy plenty of berries, plums, and grapes, which contain phytochemicals that protect your vision. Research has shown that consuming three servings of blueberries a week will decrease your risk of diabetes by 25 percent.
Consume turmeric, which has been shown to reduce glucose levels.
Focus on foods with a low glycemic-load value.
Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load
Glycemic index (GI) has become a popular term, as it is more meaningful than the label “simple carbohydrate.” GI refers to the rise in blood sugar that occurs after ingesting a specific food. This numerical value is compared to the GI of glucose at a value of 100. Foods with lower glycemic values are recommended for people with obesity, diabetes, and insulin resistance. For example, a Coca-Cola soft drink has a glycemic index of 63, whereas a serving of kidney beans has a value of 23.
Glycemic Index Guidelines:
GI of 70 or more is considered high.
GI of 56 to 69 is considered medium.
GI of less than 55 is considered low.
Recently, doctors and researchers have placed more value on the glycemic load (GL) value of foods. The glycemic load takes into account the amount of carbohydrates in a serving of a particular food. The glycemic index tells you how quickly a carbohydrate turns into blood sugar, but it neglects to take into account the amount of carbohydrates in a serving, which is important. The higher the glycemic-load value, the greater the blood sugar level and the resulting stress on insulin levels. This value is attained by multiplying the amount of carbohydrates contained in a specified serving size of food by the glycemic-index value of that food, and then dividing by 100. For example, an apple has a GI of 40, compared to glucose, which is the baseline at 100, but the amount of carbohydrates available in a typical apple is 16 grams. The GL is calculated by multiplying the 16 grams of available carbohydrate times 40 and then dividing by 100 to give a number of approximately 6. Compare this to a serving of Rice Krispies, which has a glycemic-index of 82 and available carbohydrates of 26 grams, making a glycemic load of 21. Another example would be macaroni and cheese, which has a glycemic load of 32.
Glycemic Load Guidelines:
GL of 20 or more is considered high.
GL of 11 to 19 is considered medium.
GL of 10 or less is considered low.
Food to Avoid
If you are overweight, it’s critical that you implement a diet that promotes healthy weight loss. Stay away from simple sugars. Obvious no-no’s are candy, cookies, sodas, and other sweets. White, refined bread also spikes blood sugar levels. Whole-grain breads, cereals, and pastas are better choices. Brown rice, barley, oats, spelt, and kamut are complex carbohydrates that are good choices.
Avoid cow’s milk. Some studies have found a link between cow’s milk ingestion and type 1 diabetes in children. It appears that some children, due to genetic reasons, react to the cow’s milk protein (caseins), which causes an autoimmune reaction with the pancreas.
Eliminate alcohol from your diet.
Avoid artificial sweeteners. Instead, use diabetic-safe and more healthful natural sweeteners, such as stevia or xylitol. Diet sodes have been shown to increase the risk for type 2 diabetes.
Avoid high—glycemic load foods.
Diabetics are particularly vulnerable to toxins. Exposure to pesticides, polychlorinated bisphenols (PCBs), and phthalates is increasingly becoming associated with a risk for diabetes. Although fasting is not an option if you have diabetes, other therapies will help flush out toxic buildup and reduce your risk of developing diseases.
Consume detoxifying super green foods, such as chlorella, spirulina, wheatgrass, barley grass, or a mixture of these.
• Don’t smoke or expose yourself to secondhand smoke. If you are diabetic, you are vulnerable to heart and kidney damage, both of which are linked to smoking. You may also have circulation problems, and smoking impairs blood flow.
• Poor circulation and nerve damage can lead to foot ulcers in diabetics. Keep the blood flowing through your feet by wearing comfortable shoes that fit well.
• If you’re obese and have type 2 diabetes, you need to lose weight. The previous diet recommendations should help you take off the weight safely, but talk to your doctor about the best weight-loss plan for you.
• Alternating hot and cold compresses, applied to the abdomen, just over the pancreas and the kidneys, will encourage proper insulin production, along with regular elimination of fluids from the kidneys.
• Exercise regularly to maintain optimal blood sugar levels. Walking after meals is effective for some people.