Diabetes is a disorder relating to high levels of sugar in the body. When the body cannot properly process sugar in the blood stream it leads to diabetes. The pancreas needs to make more insulin in this case. Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Diabetes can be kept at bay using simple dietary changes. Glycemic Index of a food also helps in planning the healthy food choices . GI measures how quickly a food will raise blood sugar. One needs to opt for lower GI foods to fight diabetes. There is no one magic food to prevent Type 2 diabetes, but there are some wise food choices that along with exercise can help to avoid Type 2 diabetes.
Foods that are nutritious and have low GI are helpful in managing health and blood glucose levels. Some of these include:
1. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables (Non starchy vegetables) : Vegetables choices include
Broccoli : great source of chromium which helps with blood sugar stabilization . Broccoli is also an excellent source of dietary fiber .Broccoli has high levels of Sulphur containing compounds known as glucosinolates which helps in reducing heart diseases and have anti cancer effects.
Beets ,Spinach, collards, kale , Artichokes and Asparagus are other beneficial vegetables packed with Vitamin A, C, E , K , iron , calcium and potassium. These can be prepared as meals, added to salads, soups and stews. Asparagus is high in antioxidant called glutathione , which eases the effects of aging and fights diabetes. It keeps blood sugar level in check and increases insulin production.Sweet potatoes are packed with Vitamin A,Vitamin C, potassium and fiber .
All these have fewer carbs . They satisfy the hunger and boosts the intake of vitamins , minerals, fiber and phytochemicals.
Another great vegetable for diabetic patients is tomatoes and Carrots. Tomatoes in any form raw, pureed, or in sauce provides vitamin C, vitamin E and potassium. Carrots are the richest source of beta carotene which is linked to a lower risk of diabetes .
2. Fruits like Apples , Blueberries, Oranges, Grapefruits , lemons, limes are good in fighting Diabetes:Eating apples is known to lower the LDL which is bad cholesterol . People eating apples have lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes . A medium sized apple is great source of fiber (soluble and insoluble) . Blueberries , strawberries , raspberries and blackberries are antioxidant powerhouse and thus reduces the risk of heart diseases and cancer. They have anti-inflammatory properties. Berries have a natural plant compound called anthocyanins which may help in lowering blood sugar by boosting insulin production. Oranges and Grapefruits are a great source of fiber , folate, potassium , manganese,along with Vitamin K and Vitamin C.The fruits should be eaten as a whole , rather than in juice form. Avocados also help in improving cholesterol levels .
3. Non Fat or Low Fat Plain milk and yogurt :
Vitamin D is needed to keep the bones and teeth healthy but in case of diabetes, it is better to opt for non dairy products that are fortified with Vitamin D. If one needs to have milk , then choose non fat or low fat plain milk and yogurt as they have low GI score.
4. Beans :
Beans help in better blood sugar control and lower blood pressure. Beans are a good source of fiber and are packed with vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and potassium . Beans can be black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, white, lima and pinto beans. They are a good source of protein and can be put in salads, soups etc.
5.Nuts and Seeds :
An ounce of nuts can go a long way in getting healthy fats and they are rich in fiber and magnesium. Prefer soaked almonds and walnuts. Seeds include fenugreek seeds, help in lowering the blood sugar levels and is also a blood thinner. Flaxseeds are rich in proteins, fiber and good fats . They are a good source of magnesium which helps in keeping blood sugar in control as it helps cells use insulin. Other useful seeds include pumpkin seeds, sunflower seed and sesame.
Whole Grains are rich in vitamins and minerals like magnesium, Vitamin B, Chromium , Iron and Folate and are a great source of fiber .Whole grains include whole oats, quinoa, whole grain barley and farro. Choosing barley instead of white rice reduces the rise in blood sugar and helps to keep the sugar level lower and steadier for hours. The soluble fiber and other compounds in barley slows the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. Switching to whole grain bread from white bread improves sensitivity to insulin and leads to blood sugar stability. Oatmeals and oat flour are very beneficial as it is loaded with soluble fiber . Eat brown rice instead of white.
7. Herbs or Spices like Ginseng, Cinnamon, Basil, Cumin, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Cloves are very beneficial in fighting diabetes. They can help lower blood sugar and boost insulin production. The antioxidants in them could prevent tissue damage and inflammation caused by high blood sugar. Spices are an excellent substitute for sodium .
A diabetic patient should also take broiled, baked or grilled fish as has Omega 3 fatty acids which helps reduce the risk of heart diseases.
For cooking meals, the best to use is Olive oil as it wont increase insulin resistance but may help to reverse it. Olive oil also slows down digestion so the meal is less likely to spike up the glucose levels.
Doing key changes to the diet like eating more fiber, fewer refined carbohydrates, plenty of lean means and more good fat will help improve blood sugar control and cut the risk of diabetes related complications.
DR. Vikram Chauhan, MD – AYURVEDA is an expert Ayurvedic practitioner based in Chandigarh, India and doing his practice in Mohali, India. He is spreading the knowledge of Ayurveda Ancient healing treatment, not only in India but also abroad. He is the CEO and Founder of Planet Ayurveda Products, Planet Ayurveda Clinic and Krishna Herbal Company