She still plans to lose more weight, but she knows that slow and steady beats the quick loss (and equally quick regain) she experienced on countless fad diets in her past. Because she's not trying to drop a dress size—she wants to change her life. "My goal is to be as healthy as I can," she says. "If something happens and one day I'm back on medication, my goal is still to be healthy."
There is convincing evidence that diets rich in whole grains protect against diabetes, whereas diets rich in refined carbohydrates lead to increased risk (53). In the Nurses’ Health Studies I and II, for example, researchers looked at the whole grain consumption of more than 160,000 women whose health and dietary habits were followed for up to 18 years. Women who averaged two to three servings of whole grains a day were 30 percent less likely to have developed type 2 diabetes than those who rarely ate whole grains. (21) When the researchers combined these results with those of several other large studies, they found that eating an extra 2 servings of whole grains a day decreased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 21 percent.
Among 85,000 married female nurses, 3,300 developed type 2 diabetes over a 16-year period. Women in the low-risk group were 90 percent less likely to have developed diabetes than the rest of the women. Low-risk meant a healthy weight (body mass index less than 25), a healthy diet, 30 minutes or more of exercise daily, no smoking, and having about three alcoholic drinks per week.
The advice above is therefore not only illogical, but also works poorly. It completely lacks scientific support according to a Swedish expert investigation. On the contrary, in recent years similar carbohydrate-rich dietary advice has been shown to increase the risk of getting diabetes and worsen blood sugar levels long-term in people who are already diabetic. The advice doesn’t improve diabetics’ health in any other way either.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) advocates for a healthy diet with an emphasis on balancing energy intake with exercise. Historically, they have advocated for the majority of calories coming from complex carbohydrates from whole grains such as whole-grain bread and other whole-grain cereal products and a decreased intake of total fat with most of it coming from unsaturated fat.
The evidence is growing stronger that eating red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and processed red meat (bacon, hot dogs, deli meats) increases the risk of diabetes, even among people who consume only small amounts. The latest support comes from a “meta analysis,” or statistical summary, that combined findings from the long-running Nurses’ Health Study I and II and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study with those of six other long-term studies. The researchers looked at data from roughly 440,000 people, about 28,000 of whom developed diabetes during the course of the study. (43) They found that eating just one daily 3-ounce serving of red meat—say, a steak that’s about the size of a deck of cards—increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20 percent. Eating even smaller amounts of processed red meat each day—just two slices of bacon, one hot dog, or the like—increased diabetes risk by 51 percent.
To follow a healthy diet for diabetes, you must first understand how different foods affect your blood sugar. Carbohydrates, which are found to the largest degree in grains, bread, pasta, milk, sweets, fruit, and starchy vegetables, are broken down into glucose in the blood faster than other types of food, which raises blood sugar, potentially leading to hyperglycemia. Protein and fats do not directly impact blood sugar, but both should be consumed in moderation to keep calories down and weight in a healthy range.
Your diabetic meal plan, physical activity, and medication are all balanced to help keep your blood glucose levels normal. You need to check your blood glucose levels at home to keep track of how you are doing. Soon you will learn how the foods you eat and your physical activity affect your blood glucose level. The best defense against diabetic complications is to keep blood glucose in control and take good care of yourself. Keeping your blood glucose in control will help you feel better now and stay healthy in the future.[78,79,80]
Fruits constitute a commercially important and nutritionally indispensable food commodity. Being a part of a balanced diet, fruits play a vital role in human nutrition by supplying the necessary growth regulating factors essential for maintaining normal health. They have been especially valuable for their ability to prevent vitamin C and vitamin A deficiencies. Fruits and vegetables are good source of vitamins, minerals, flavonoids (anti-oxidants), saponins, polyphenols, carotenoids (vitamin A-like compounds), isothiocyanates (sulfur-containing compounds), and several types of dietary fibers. The fruits and vegetables not only prevent malnutrition but also help in maintaining optimum health through a host of chemical components that are still being identified, tested, and measured. They prevent various chronic diseases like stroke, hypertension, birth defects, cataracts, diabetes, heart disease, cancers, diverticulosis, obstructive pulmonary disease (asthma and bronchitis), and obesity etc.[53,54,55,56] Diets that are high in insoluble fiber may offer the best protection against this disease. Fruits and vegetables are high in cellulose-a type of insoluble fiber. Diets that are high in fiber may be able to help in the management of diabetes. Soluble fiber delays glucose absorption from the small intestine and thus may help prevent the spike in blood glucose levels that follow a meal or snack. The long-term effect may be insignificant, however, due to the many other factors that affect blood glucose. The effects of the fruit and vegetables on the human health allowed to once again measuring the enormous stakes.[57,58,59,60] More and more emphasis is put on the importance of the diversity of food, and in particular of the fruit and vegetables. This new and effective approach to diabetes is remarkably simple. Here are 4 simple steps to managing your blood sugar (and weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol) with diet.[61,62,63,64,65,66,67,68,69,70]
Activity – so important to keep busy – mentally as well as physically. Find an activity that you really WANT to do. I like to garden and now that I am tracking my activity, I find it gives me an excuse to go out and putter. Since I enjoy it and accomplish something good, it satisfies me. I have discovered that with some practice I can read while walking on the treadmill. If the book engrosses my mind, I will walk much longer than if I am just watching the timer.
The president of the International Diabetes Foundation was the lead author on another study that strongly recommended the use of this unique herb in treating and preventing Type 2 diabetes. Not only because of improved blood sugar control, but also because of its effectiveness in lowering cholesterol and other elements of metabolic syndrome that can lead to Type 2 diabetes.
If you choose to drink alcohol, remember: To drink with your meal or snack (not on an empty stomach!), to drink slowly or dilute with water or diet soda, that liqueurs, sweet wines and dessert wines have a lot of sugar, to wear your Medic Alert (Alcohol can cause hypoglycemia/low blood glucose), reducing alcohol can promote weight loss and help you lower your blood pressure.
Control portions and eat smaller meals. Consuming generous portions and large meals requires your pancreas to work harder to secrete the needed insulin to bring your blood sugar down. The extra calories consumed due to sizeable portions and large meals also makes it harder for you to lose weight which is usually necessary for better blood sugar control.
The best way to avoid these foods is to shop around the edges of the grocery store and minimize the number of processed, packaged foods in the middle. Sticking with "real" food in its whole, minimally processed form is the best way to eat well for diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes who eat a healthy diet pattern like the ones discussed here reduce the risk of complications that stem from high blood sugar, like cardiovascular disease and obesity.
Why do red meat and processed red meat appear to boost diabetes risk? It may be that the high iron content of red meat diminishes insulin’s effectiveness or damages the cells that produce insulin; the high levels of sodium and nitrites (preservatives) in processed red meats may also be to blame. Red and processed meats are a hallmark of the unhealthful “Western” dietary pattern, which seems to trigger diabetes in people who are already at genetic risk. (44)
Find safe ways to exercise at home. If you have trouble leaving the house because of your health or lack of transportation, you can still find safe ways to stay active from home. Find workout videos online, or make even ordinary household chores a little more fun by turning on some music. If it’s safe for you to do so, you might try doing strengthening exercises from home.
Animal products contain fat, especially saturated fat, which is linked to heart disease, insulin resistance, and certain forms of cancer. These products also contain cholesterol and, of course, animal protein. It may surprise you to learn that diets high in animal protein can aggravate kidney problems and calcium losses. Animal products never provide fiber or healthful carbohydrates. A vegan diet is one that contains no animal products at all. Therefore, you’ll have to avoid red meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, and eggs.
By definition, diabetes is associated with a fasting blood sugar of greater than 126 mg/dl. There is another group that has been identified and referred to as having impaired fasting glucose or prediabetes. These people have a fasting blood sugar value of between 110-125mg/dl. The main concern with this group is that they have an increased potential to develop type 2 diabetes when compared to the normal population. The actual percent increase varies depending on ethnicity, weight, etc.; but it is significantly higher, regardless of absolute numbers. In addition, it is known that people with impaired fasting glucose also are at increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
Food sources of carbohydrates including breads, cereals, crackers, pasta, starchy vegetables (peas, corn, potatoes), fruit and sweets/desserts need to be eaten consistently throughout the day by focusing on small and frequent meals every 3-4 hours. Patients with type 2 diabetes should work with a dietitian who can prescribe a goal number of carbohydrate servings (or grams) at each meal and snack and teach appropriate portion size for each carbohydrate food. Daily carbohydrate needs will vary based on the individual.
Our advice to anyone trying to live healthier lifestyles is simple, including diabetics trying to manage their disease. Our mantra: Eat real food. What does that mean? Eat whole foods that grow from the ground, are picked from a bush or tree, or came from an animal. Whole vegetables, fruit (both preferably organic), and responsibly raised and fed animals are all a part of a healthy, nutrient-rich diet. If one can stick to this simple rule and minimize or avoid processed and packaged foods and food-like items, you’ll find you look, feel, and perform better than ever.
The breakfast should be 1/3 fruit, 1/3 starchy fiber foods (multigrain bread and cereal products), and 1/3 protein (nuts, eggs, tofu, beans, lentils, low-fat dairy products). The lunch and dinner plates should be 1/2 vegetables, 1/4 starchy fiber foods, and 1/4 protein. Choose whole grains, such as whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, and brown rice to increase fiber intake. Most of these are low in fat. Choose only lean meat and poultry.[81,82,83,84] Remove skin and trim fat before cooking (50-100 g or 2-4 oz). See the milk fat (MF) of all dairy products. Use skim or 1% milk products and low-fat cheese (less than 20% MF), or choose fortified soy products. Reduce your total fat intake (less than 25% - 35% of your daily calories). To achieve this, always try to choose low fat foods and avoid fried foods. Limit saturated and trans fats to less than 10% of your daily calories. Try to always choose unsaturated fats such as olive and canola oils and non-hydrogenated margarine (in moderation). Saturated and trans fats raise blood cholesterol levels, while unsaturated fats lower blood cholesterol. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are usually of animal origin. They are found in meats, whole milk, dairy products, butter, and hard margarines.[85,86,87,88,89,90] Trans fats are found in baked and pre-packaged foods. Hydrogenation is a process that changes liquid vegetable oil into a solid fat such as hard margarine. The hydrogenation process changes some of the good fats into cholesterol-raising saturated and trans fats. People with diabetes are at a greater risk of developing or have already high levels of fats in their heart and blood vessels. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold water fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon, trout, sardines and tuna, and in flaxseeds (2 tbsp per day, freshly ground).[90,91,92,93] Three to four servings of fish per week is recommended as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Omega-enriched foods are also available in supermarkets such as omega-3 eggs and omega-3 enriched dairy products. Omega-3 supplements: Always look for the active ingredients DHA and EPA. Recommendations are 600-900 mg/day. Always check with your doctor or registered dietitian before taking any supplements. Increase fiber in your diet by eating more whole grain foods, vegetables, fruits, and legumes.[94,95,96] These foods also contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and have a lower glycemic index. Low glycemic index foods will help to keep your blood sugar levels in the target range.[97,98,99]
The types of fats in your diet can also affect the development of diabetes. Good fats, such as the polyunsaturated fats found in liquid vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds can help ward off type 2 diabetes. (39) Trans fats do just the opposite. (8, 40) These bad fats are found in many margarines, packaged baked goods, fried foods in most fast-food restaurants, and any product that lists “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on the label. Eating polyunsaturated fats from fish—also known as “long chain omega 3” or “marine omega 3” fats—does not protect against diabetes, even though there is much evidence that these marine omega 3 fats help prevent heart disease. (41) If you already have diabetes, eating fish can help protect you against a heart attack or dying from heart disease. (42)
The glycemic index identifies foods that increase blood sugar rapidly. This handy tool allows you to favor foods that have much less effect on blood sugar. High-glycemic-index foods include sugar itself, white potatoes, most wheat flour products, and most cold cereals, e.g., pumpernickel, rye, multigrain, or sourdough bread, old-fashioned oatmeal, bran cereals, grape-nuts, most fruits, sweet potatoes, pasta, rice, barley, couscous, beans, peas, lentils, most vegetables [Table 1].
Type 2 diabetes can lead to a number of complications such as kidney, nerve, and eye damage, as well as cardiovascular disease. It also means cells are not receiving the glucose they need for healthy functioning. A calculation called a HOMA Score (Homeostatic Model Assessment) can tell doctors the relative proportion of these factors for an individual with type 2 diabetes. Good glycemic control (that is, keeping sugar/carbohydrate intake low so blood sugar isn't high) can prevent long-term complications of type 2 diabetes. A diet for people with type 2 diabetes also is referred to as a diabetic diet for type 2 diabetes and medical nutrition therapy (MNT) for people with diabetes.