Eating a healthful, balanced diet can help people with diabetes manage their condition and reduce their risk of health-related complications. It can also influence how well they feel and how much energy they have each day. Having diabetes does not mean that a person has to stop eating the foods that they enjoy. People with diabetes can eat most foods, but they may need to eat some of them in smaller portions.
Carbohydrates: Many foods contain healthful carbs that are suitable for people with diabetes.
Carbohydrates are an important source of energy, but a person with diabetes should be careful when choosing which carbs to eat and how to spread them evenly throughout the day.
There are three main types of carbohydrate in food: starch, sugar and fiber
Carbohydrates directly affect blood glucose levels more than other nutrients. The body breaks starches and sugars down into glucose.
Carbs should make up 45-65% of an adult's daily calories, while added sugars should constitute less than 10% of their calorie intake.
In the past, there were specific recommendations about how many carbohydrates people with diabetes should eat.Now, there are no set guidelines. A person can speak to a doctor or dietitian about their individual dietary needs, including how many carbohydrates to eat and when. Factors affecting these individual needs include height, weight, activity level, and medications. A person with diabetes does not have to avoid carbs totally, but they need to be sure they are eating the right kind.
Carbs to avoid: Foods that consist of processed carbs and those that contain added sugars also provide energy, but they contain few nutrients. People should avoid these as far as possible.
Examples include: baked goods made with highly processed white flour, sweets, candies, and any foods with added sugar, white breads and cereals
Healthful carbs: The body does not break fiber down in the same way as other carbs, so it does not raise blood sugar levels as quickly. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains provide healthful carbs. They provide energy, fiber, and nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals.
People with diabetes should limit their intake of unhealthful carbs and focus on healthful ones. They should also talk to their doctor about their carb intake, and keep track of how much they consume.
Monitoring the total carb intake per meal and during the day can help a person keep their glucose levels remain within the target range.
Grains: All grains contain starch, but whole grains can also contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
People with diabetes should limit or avoid: white bread, bagels, tortillas, cakes, muffins, and other baked goods containing white flour, white rice, white pasta, cereals, crackers, and pretzels that contain added sugar and no whole grains
The processing of refined carbs, such as white flour, partially breaks them down. As a result, the body absorbs the carbs and converts them to glucose quickly, which leads to an increase in blood sugar and leaves the person feeling hungry again soon after.
The body does not absorb all of the carbs from whole grains, and those that it does absorb will enter the bloodstream more slowly than processed carbs. For this reason, they are less likely to cause a blood sugar spike, and the person will feel full for longer.
Fiber is a healthful carb that people should eat every day. People with diabetes should limit the amount of sugar that they consume and pay careful attention to their intake of starch.
Protein: Protein helps the body build, maintain, and replace tissue. The body's organs, muscles, and immune system consist of protein. The body can also break protein down into sugar, but this process is less efficient than breaking down carbs. As with carbs, a person should choose their protein sources with care, especially if they have diabetes.
Eating red meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb, may increase the risk of diabetes, even at low levels of consumption. A smaller serving of processed red meat, such as bacon, increased the risk by 51%. Protein foods that are also high in fat are not healthful for many people with diabetes as they can lead to weight gain and high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides - a kind of fat - in the body.
Proteins to avoid or limit include: red meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb, breaded, fried, and high-sodium meats, processed meats, such as bacon, hot dogs, and deli meats, ribs and other fatty cuts of meat, poultry with the skin on, deep-fried fish
Proteins to eat include: beans, lentils, nuts, soy products, tofu, fish, seafood, poultry without the skin, eggs Dairy: Dairy foods provide calcium, protein, and vitamins. They also contain a sugar called lactose.As long as they account for the carbs in their daily count, people with diabetes can consume dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, every day.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes often occurs alongside obesity. For this reason, it is best to opt for low-fat dairy foods.Full-fat foods can increase the levels of cholesterol in the blood and lead to a higher risk of heart disease than lower-fat options.
Dairy foods to avoid or limit include: whole milk, full-fat yogurt, full-fat cottage cheese, full-fat cheese, full-fat sour cream, full-fat ice cream, sweetened yogurts, milk-based drinks with added sugar Dairy products to eat include: reduced-fat or fat-free foods, 1%, 2%, or skim milk, low-fat plain yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat sour creamDairy alternatives, such as soy or nut milk, can be a healthful choice, but some brands contain added sugar. People should check the label before buying or consuming these products.
Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These foods can help a person manage their body weight and reduce their risk of stroke, heart disease, some cancers, and other chronic diseases.Some fruits may cause blood sugar levels to rise, but the increase is less severe than it would be after eating a sugary snack, cake, or ice cream.
For this reason, whole fruits, in moderation, make a good dessert. They provide high-quality carbohydrates and contain fiber that may help slow down the body's absorption of glucose.People with diabetes should take care when consuming the following:
Fruit juice: Even when people make it with fresh fruit, juice is more likely to cause a sugar spike than whole fruits, and it also provides less fiber. The reason for this is that juicing is a kind of processing that breaks down the fiber. Premade fruit juices often contain a lot of added sugar, so it is best to avoid these.
Dried fruit: This contains concentrated natural sugars, which may spike blood glucose levels.Salt and sodium: People with high blood pressure should also be wary of the sodium, or salt, levels in foods. Many processed foods, including canned and pickled vegetables, may contain added sodium.
Being mindful of their sodium intake can help people avoid high blood pressure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise people to limit their sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day.
The writer is a doctor
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