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Can Healthy Diet Reverse Diabetes?

It’s an important question, in this era what kind of diet a diabetic person should take? Or is it possible to reverse diabetes by diet? So here we will try to sum up or gather all the information related to a healthy diabetes diet and will also learn what kind of macronutrients and dietary constituents should be promoted in one’s diet.

Why a healthy diet?

If a person is diabetic or not both should have a healthy diet. It helps both. If you are not diabetic of course this change will lead toward your healthy lifestyle and this will minimize the risk of getting sick. And if you are already diabetic or suffering from any other illness/ disease then it will boost your immunity and will help you recover soon or it may help you get the worse of it. 

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Diabetics need to maintain healthy blood sugar levels to avoid complications linked with it. Because our diet majorly affects our blood sugars. So we are always advised to consume foods that can help in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.

Here comes the question of how we will select which food is good and which one is not, which one is raising blood sugar level in our body, and which one is maintaining it. So here comes the factor is known as “Glycemic index”.

Nutritionists suggest that the safest and suitable way to select the food is to check its “Glycemic load (GI)” value. “Glycemic index (GI) is the incremental rise in blood glucose of given food containing 50g of digestible carbohydrates, relative to the blood glucose rise from the same amount of carbohydrates from the white bread”. “Glycemic load is the (GL) X (the amount of carb) in a serving of the food.

GL may be a more accurate way of accessing how food affects blood sugar management over time. High GI foods are absorbed faster than medium and low glycemic index food. Low GI food is considered with value 50 or less than it. Medium GI food is considered between 56 and 69. High GI food is considered between 70 or more than it. Low GL for the day is under 80. High GL for the day is above 120. So it concludes we should consume foods with high GI value.

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What is fiber?

  • Its definition is “edible parts of plants or analogous carbohydrates that are resistant to digestion and absorption in the small intestine, with complete or partial fermentation in the colon”
  • Typically, carbohydrates are with >=10 monomeric units.
  • They can be synthesized and added to foods.
  • Their major source is whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  • They are also categorizing as soluble and insoluble. Soluble can help to lower LDL cholesterol and has more impact on blunting hyperglycemia. Sources are apples, carrots, lentils, and oats/oatmeal.
  • Institute of Medicine recommends 14g of fiber intake per 1000 kcals. This translates to about 20-40g per day, depending on body size and metabolism.
  • Based on 2010 dietary guidelines, vegetables and fruits intake recommended would supply 63% of goal, while grains would meet 36% of the goal.

Benefits of fiber

  • It’s an important dietary component.
  • Protects against weight gain/helps weight loss.
  • Promotes GI motility.
  • Blunts absorption of glucose, and decreases postprandial hyperglycemia.
  • Promotes healthy flora in the colon, with improved hepatic glucose metabolism.
  • Reduces cholesterol and heart diseases.
  • Help prevent diabetes and control diabetes. (According to Stockholm diabetes prevention program: higher whole grain intake .60g per day vs. <30g per day associated with a 22% lower risk of diabetes and prediabetes, after BMI adjustments.
  • Those who develop diabetes, it may reduce their cardiac mortality and their total mortality.
  • It may also reduce the rate of cancer.
  • Fiber is inexpensive and (most of us) need to increase our intake by about double!

Red meat

  • JAMA study in 2013 showed a higher risk of developing diabetes in those who increased their red meat intake by more than 0.5 servings per day over 4 years, in the subsequent 4 years of follow up.
  • Conversely, showed that by reducing red meat intake by greater than 0.5 servings per day, the rate of developing diabetes was 14% less. It concludes we should take control amount of red meat in our diet.

Vegetarian diet

  • Most vegetarian diets are high in fiber.
  • High fiber blunts the post-meal rise in glucose, so it helps with diabetes management.
  • Vegetarians have lower average BMI than non-vegetarians because they tend to eat fewer calories, with increased satiety from fiber likely contributory.
  • Vegetarian diet associated with lower LDL cholesterol and a lower rate of heart disease, which is #1 cause of mortality in diabetics who have a 3 fold higher risk of heart disease.
  • For diabetics with kidney disease, a vegetarian diet is likely to help forestall the progression of renal disease relative to a diet high in meat protein.
  • Vegetarians have a lower risk of mortality, and reduction in cardiovascular mortality is also seen.
  • More significant benefits are seen in men than in women.
  • It prevents obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.
  • Reduced weight in the trial of type 2 diabetics, even though was a diet of 70% carbohydrates. It also was associated with lower glucose, lower cholesterol than the ADA diet.

Fruits

Some of us still believe that diabetics should avoid fruits as they are sweetened so they will increase blood sugar levels. But Nutritionists advised that diabetic patients should consider fruits in his or her diet but moderation level. As they are loaded with essential nutrients but also contain natural sugar.

According to ADA (American Diabetes Association), any fruit is fine to eat for a person with diabetes, as long as the person is not allergic to a particular fruit. But it is important to have fruits according to blood glucose level and portion size of fruit is important. To understand how to choose the best fruit for diabetes we check its Glycemic index value. So here is a list of fruits that a person with diabetics can enjoy.

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Watermelon:

 GI of watermelon is 72 and the GL is 4. It is full of antioxidants. It is rich in vitamins and minerals and contains 14-16% vitamin C daily requirement. It also keeps hydrated.

Strawberries:

 GI of strawberries is 41 and GL is 3. It helps to boost immunity as it contains a dose of vitamin C. it is also a good source of folate which is important for normal tissue growth. They are also good for skin health and provide manganese and potassium too. 

Cherries:

GI of cherries is 20 and GL is 6. They are rich in antioxidants and beneficial for heart health. They can improve sleep quality as well.

Plums:

 GI of plums is 40 and GL is 2. They are rich in fiber, vitamin C, A and K and minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium. They also enhance the functioning of the immune system.

Apples:

 GI of apples is 39 and GL is 5. It is also a good source of vitamin C and fiber, helps in weight loss, has prebiotic effects, and promotes good gut bacteria.

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