- 1 Why is diet the most important part to control for a diabetic?
- 2 How food impacts blood glucose levels?
- 3 Bad food choices
- 4 Good food choices
- 5 How much fruit should I eat?
- 6 Other health benefits of fruits
- 7 Last but not least
Bringing a change in your eating habits can help reverse diabetes mellitus. This article will help you know the benefits of a healthy diet for a diabetic.
Why is diet the most important part to control for a diabetic?
A healthy diet helps to manage and control diabetes, in combination with regular physical exercise. Eating healthy food can help a diabetic person to-
- Lower the blood glucose levels.
- Remove extra fat and maintain healthy body weight.
- Regulate and manage blood pressure.
- Lower or curb the growth of diabetes complications.
Food cravings are strong desires to eat food which is quite difficult to control. It might lead to overeating due to which there will be a rise in blood sugar and the weight of a person.
Polyphagia (excessive hunger) can be caused by diabetes mellitus, anxiety, stress, hyperglycemia. How is hunger related to diabetes?
People with diabetes have abnormally high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia). In diabetes, the glucose from the blood cannot move to the cells and hence, won’t be converted into energy. The lack of energy increases the appetite and causes food cravings.
How to overcome food cravings?
Here is some simple formula to beat carb cravings:
- Drink water – Thirst is often misinterpreted as food cravings. A sudden urge for food can be subsided by drinking enough water. Drinking plenty of water not only helps in reducing appetite but also in weight loss.
- Fight Stress – Stress has an influence on the eating habits of people, especially women, and increases their food cravings. Stress helps to release the hormone, cortisol, which causes weight gain. Stress can be reduced by performing yoga, breathing exercises, or meditation.
- Go for healthy alternatives – Recognise the taste or tang you are craving for and make a healthy choice to satisfy it. When you are craving for chocolates, eat dark chocolate instead of the sweet one. This will help you beat food cravings.
How food impacts blood glucose levels?
The food we eat, mainly carbohydrates are broken down into glucose or sugar. The glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to the liver (glucose reservoir) and other parts of the body. Due to this, the glucose level in the blood increases.
In reaction to the increase in blood glucose, the organ pancreas releases the hormone, insulin to regulate the blood sugar levels. Insulin transports or moves glucose from the bloodstream to the body cells where it is either stored or used for energy.
Higher carbohydrate intake will lead to a faster rise in blood sugar levels. Therefore, if you wish to manage and control blood sugar levels, you need to focus more on a low carb diet.
Bad food choices
Avoiding unhealthy food items reduces the risk of complications that stem from high blood glucose, like heart disease and obesity.
Consumption of food with high-calorie value has the worst impact on a diabetic patient. Its regular intake can cause insulin resistance within days. The more you eat high-calorie foods, the higher your blood glucose level will go.
Here is a list of few food items with high-calorie value:
- Sugary Beverages – Sugary beverages must be avoided as they are high in carbs and loaded with fructose (which is linked with insulin resistance).
- Trans Fats (artificial unsaturated fats) – It can cause inflammation, insulin resistance, and fat deposit in the body. Some examples are peanuts, creamers, etc.
- Processed foods – White bread, pasta, and chips are high in carbs and low in fiber. This combination not only raises blood sugar but also has a negative impact on the brain.
Fat rich food
Minimize the usage of two types of fat-saturated fats and industrial unsaturated fats. Saturated fats increase the quantity of bad cholesterol in the body (which levels up the risk of cardiovascular disease). Trans fats (industrial unsaturated fats) contribute to rapid weight gain and inflammation.
All fats have high- calorie value. So, you must check the amount of whichever fat you use. Certain unhealthy fat-rich food items are butter, meat products, cheese, processed foods, etc.
Foods rich in fats don’t affect the blood sugar levels directly. It contributes to insulin resistance (an important cause of diabetes) and thus causes fluctuation in the blood sugar levels indirectly.
Good food choices
Eating fruits is the best way to satisfy your cravings and meet daily nutritional needs. However, fresh fruits are much better than processed fruits.
- Berries – Berries (blueberries, strawberries) are considered as diabetes superfood because of their vitamins, dietary fiber, and disease-fighting antioxidant properties. Three-quarters of a cup of fresh berries has 62 caloric value and 16 grams of carbohydrates.
- Kiwi fruit – Kiwi is high in fiber and low in carbohydrates which aids in lowering cholesterol. It also contains enzyme inositol which helps to keep blood glucose levels in control. One large kiwi has 56 calories and 13g of carbohydrates.
- Oranges – It is a refreshing source of Vitamin C and has a low glycemic index. One orange has 62 calories and 15g of carbohydrates. It also contains thiamine, folate, and potassium which help to normalize blood pressure.
- Cherries – Cherries have the lowest glycemic index and don’t cause spikes in blood glucose levels. It also contains chemicals called anthocyanins that boost insulin production. 100 g of cherries has 50 calories.
- Peaches – Peach is a diabetes-friendly fruit that contains metabolism-boosting potassium, vitamin A and C as well as fiber. One large peach has 70 calories and 3 g of fiber.
- Apples – Apple is a nutritious fruit loaded with fiber and is a good source of vitamin C. It has 77 calories and 21 g of carbs. The outer skin of apples has antioxidant properties.
- Pears – Pear is a wonderful addition to your diabetes diet plan as it is an excellent source of fiber and vitamin K. One medium peach (178g) has 101 calories. Balancing carbohydrates with fiber-rich food like pears decreases the rate of absorption of glucose.
- Black plums – Jamun is a miracle fruit for diabetes as it has a low glycemic index and is rich in soluble fibers. It also helps to cure diabetic symptoms like excess urination and thirst as well as improve insulin sensitivity. One plum has 30 calories.
- Grapefruit – Grapefruit is a diabetes-friendly fruit as it is rich in soluble fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C and has a low glycemic index. It contains flavonoid naringenin which helps to increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin. 100 g of grapefruit has 42 calories.
- Guava – Guava is a highly nutritious fruit as it has high amounts of lycopene, dietary fiber, and rich in vitamin C, A, and potassium. The fruit as well as its leaves helps to control blood sugar levels. One guava has 38 calories.
How much fruit should I eat?
Some people are worried about the harmful effects of eating too many fruits because of their sugar content. Do you have an idea of the number of fruits you should consume daily?
It is really difficult to eat too many fruits as they are high in water and fiber, which makes them incredibly filling. You might feel full after eating 1-2 fruits only. However, if you are concerned about the ideal amount, intake of about 400 g of fruits (5 servings of 80 g) per day is the best.
Other health benefits of fruits
Consumption of fruits is beneficial for the health and maintenance of a person’s body. It has many health benefits like:
- Fruits contain dietary fibers which help to reduce constipation, diverticulosis, blood cholesterol, and improve bowel function.
- Vitamin C in fruits is essential for the growth and repair of all body tissues. It even helps to heal wounds.
- Certain fruits contain folic acid (folate) which helps in forming red blood cells (RBCs). It even lowers the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida in pregnant women.
- Eating fruits may even protect against certain types of cancers.
Last but not least
An overall healthy diet (which includes fruits) will help you win the fight against diabetes. You just need to keep the following points in mind:
- Control food cravings.
- Avoid unhealthy food items like sugary drinks, processed foods, etc.
- Drink sufficient water and eat at least 400 g of fruits daily.