Whole grains don’t contain a magical nutrient that fights diabetes and improves health. It’s the entire package—elements intact and working together—that’s important. The bran and fiber in whole grains make it more difficult for digestive enzymes to break down the starches into glucose. This leads to lower, slower increases in blood sugar and insulin, and a lower glycemic index. As a result, they stress the body’s insulin-making machinery less, and so may help prevent type 2 diabetes. (22) Whole grains are also rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that may help reduce the risk of diabetes.
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Triglycerides are a common form of fat that we digest. Triglycerides are the main ingredient in animal fats and vegetable oils. Elevated levels of triglycerides are a risk factor for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, fatty liver disease, and pancreatitis. Elevated levels of triglycerides are also associated with diseases like diabetes, kidney disease, and medications (for example, diuretics, birth control pills, and beta blockers). Dietary changes, and medication if necessary can help lower triglyceride blood levels.
They would often say to me, “Doctor. You’ve always said that weight loss is the key to reversing diabetes. Yet you prescribed me a drug that made me gain 25 pounds. How is that good?” I never had a good answer, because none existed. It was not good. The key was weight loss, whereupon the diabetes often goes away or at least gets significantly better. So, logically, insulin does not help reverse the disease, but actually worsens it.

Aside from weight, certain nutrients are linked to improved health and lower diabetes risk. For example, increasing consumption of vegetables, fruits, and beans, eating more whole grains instead of refined, and choosing olive oil can all lower diabetes risk. Limiting sweets, refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta, and unhealthy fats from fried foods and fatty meats are examples of dietary patterns to slow any progression of prediabetes.


A growing body of evidence links moderate alcohol consumption with reduced risk of heart disease. The same may be true for type 2 diabetes. Moderate amounts of alcohol—up to a drink a day for women, up to two drinks a day for men—increases the efficiency of insulin at getting glucose inside cells. And some studies indicate that moderate alcohol consumption decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes. (8, 46–51) If you already drink alcohol, the key is to keep your consumption in the moderate range, as higher amounts of alcohol could increase diabetes risk. (52) If you don’t drink alcohol, there’s no need to start—you can get the same benefits by losing weight, exercising more, and changing your eating patterns.
Protein foods include meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans and peas, nuts, seeds, and processed soy foods. Eat fish and poultry more often. Remove the skin from chicken and turkey. Select lean cuts of beef, veal, pork, or wild game. Trim all visible fat from meat. Bake, roast, broil, grill, or boil instead of frying. When frying proteins, use healthy oils such as olive oil.
A study was conducted which included the diabetic patients with differing degrees of glycemic control. There were no differences in the mean daily plasma glucose levels or diurnal glucose profiles. As with carbohydrates, the association between dietary fats and T2DM was also inconsistent.34 Many of prospective studies have found relations between fat intake and subsequent risk of developing T2DM. In a diabetes study, conducted at San Louis Valley, a more than thousand subjects without a prior diagnosis of diabetes were prospectively investigated for 4 years. In that study, the researchers found an association between fat intake, T2DM and impaired glucose tolerance.35,36 Another study observed the relationship of the various diet components among two groups of women, including fat, fiber plus sucrose, and the risk of T2DM. After adjustment, no associations were found between intakes of fat, sucrose, carbohydrate or fiber and risk of diabetes in both groups.37
Food can be powerful in preventing and reversing diabetes. However, dietary approaches have changed as we have learned more about the disease. The traditional approach to diabetes focuses on limiting refined sugars and foods that release sugars during digestion-starches, breads, fruits, etc. With carbohydrates reduced, the diet may contain an unhealthful amount of fat and protein. Therefore, diabetes experts have taken care to limit fats- especially saturated fats that can raise cholesterol levels, and to limit protein for people with impaired kidney function. The new approach focuses more attention on fat. Fat is a problem for people with diabetes. The more fat there is in the diet, the harder time insulin has in getting glucose into the cells. Conversely, minimizing fat intake and reducing body fat help insulin do its job much better. Newer treatment programs drastically reduce meats, high-fat dairy products, and oils.[46,47,48,49,50] At the same time, they increase grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. The study found that patients on oral medications and patients on insulin were able to get off of their medications after some days on a near-vegetarian diet and exercise program. During 2 and 3-year follow-ups, most people with diabetes treated with this regimen have retained their gains. The dietary changes are simple, but profound, and they work.[51,52,53]
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), you can calculate the amount of carbs you need by first figuring out what percentage of your diet should be made up of carbohydrates. (The NIDDK notes that experts generally recommend this number be somewhere between 45 and 65 percent of your total calories, but people with diabetes are almost always recommended to stay lower than this range.) Multiply that percentage by your calorie target. For example, if you’re aiming to get 50 percent of your calories from carbs and you eat 2,000 calories a day, you’re aiming for about 1,000 calories of carbs. Because the NIDDK says 1 gram (g) of carbohydrates provides 4 calories, you can divide the calories of carbs number by 4 to get your daily target for grams of carbs, which comes out to 250 g in this example. For a more personalized daily carbohydrate goal, it’s best to work with a certified diabetes educator or a registered dietitian to determine a goal that is best for you.
Among the patients, diabetes awareness and management are still the major challenges faced by stakeholders worldwide. Poor knowledge related to diabetes is reported in many studies from the developing countries.18 Some studies have suggested that the occurrence of diabetes is different in various ethnic groups.19 Knowledge is a requirement to achieve better compliance with medical therapy.20 According to a study conducted by Mohammadi21 patient’s knowledge and self-care management regarding DM was not sufficient. Low awareness of DM affects the outcome of diabetes. Another study conducted in Slovakia by Magurová22 compared two groups of patients (those who received diabetes education and those who did not). The results indicated that receiving diabetes education significantly increased awareness about the disease in patients (p < 0.001). The study further concluded that having diabetes knowledge can notably improve patient’s quality of life and lessen the burden on their family. Dussa23 conducted a cross-sectional study on assessment of diabetes awareness in India. The study concluded that level of diabetes awareness among patients and general population was low. Another study conducted in India by Shah24 reported that 63% of T2DM patients did not know what DM is and the majority were also unaware about its complications.
In recent times in Saudi Arabia, food choices, size of portions and sedentary lifestyle have increased dramatically that resulted in high risk of obesity. Unfortunately, many Saudis are becoming more obese because of the convenience of fast foods, and this adds to the scary diabetes statistics.45 On the other hand, Saudis drink too many high-sugar drinks. In addition, Backman46 reported dietary knowledge to be a significant factor that influences dietary behaviors. In another study conducted by Savoca and Miller47 stated that patients’ food selection and dietary behaviors may be influenced by the strong knowledge about diabetic diet recommendations. Significant positive relationship was observed between knowledge regarding diabetic diet and the amount of calorie needs (r = 0.27, p < 0.05).48 The study concluded that knowledge regarding diabetic diet is essential and is needed to achieve better dietary behaviors. Results of study conducted in Saudi Arabia25 reported that more than half of the diabetic patients denied modifying their dietary pattern, reduction in weight and perform exercise.

Checking your blood glucose levels several times a day helps you understand how your body responds to medications, exercise, and the foods you eat. When first starting out, keeping your glucose within a tight margin can often feel like hitting a moving target. It can suddenly spike with no reason or plummet the next day despite total adherence to your treatment.
Steve Phelps always had a sweet tooth. He blamed that weakness for his weight, the 360 pounds that were too much for his 5-foot, 7-inch frame. He was shocked, then, when the food journal he'd been keeping—a tool he'd started to use after he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes—revealed otherwise. "I was under the misconception that my diet was fine [except that] I liked sweets and I ate a lot of sweets," he says. "I discovered quickly that it wasn't just eating cake or pie that was making me fat. It was all the other stuff, too." Fried chicken. Mashed potatoes. Fast food. Phelps ate as much as he wanted without much thought.
Phelps also made significant changes to his exercise routine, which went from 1/3-mile walks around his neighborhood (it took him 40 minutes and three rest stops the first time) to walking a half marathon a little under a year later. As he lost weight and became fitter, Phelps got addicted to triathlons. At 64, he's now set his sights on Ironman races, which he hopes to compete in next year.
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.
Eat healthy foods. Plan meals that limit (not eliminate) foods that contain carbohydrates, which raise your blood sugar. Carbohydrates include starches, fruits, milk, yogurt, starchy vegetables (corn, peas, potatoes) and sweets. “Substitute more non-starchy vegetables into your meals to stay satisfied for fewer carbohydrates and calories,” Compston says.
Over a period of years, you went from pre-diabetes, to diabetes, to taking one medication, then two then three and then finally large doses of insulin. Here’s the thing. If you are taking more and more medications to keep your blood sugars at the same level, your diabetes is getting worse! Even if your blood sugars get better, your diabetes is getting worse. This is unfortunately what happens to virtually every patient. The body is already overflowing with sugar.
Stream a variety of exercise routines to get you moving and motivated! GlucoseZone™ is a digital exercise program that provides you with personalized exercise guidance and support designed to help you achieve the diabetes and fitness results you want. American Diabetes Association members receive an exclusive discount on their GlucoseZone subscription when they sign up using their ADA member ID!
Up your soluble fiber intake: There are two types of fiber – the type that does not dissolve in water (insoluble fiber) and the kind that does (soluble fiber). Insoluble fiber can help manage weight and prevent constipation by moving quickly through the digestive tract and adding bulk to stool. Soluble fiber, on the other hand, absorbs water and turns into a gel-like consistency during digestion. This process slows down digestion and nutrient absorption. Soluble fiber can also lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels: because it isn’t well absorbed, it doesn’t contribute to blood sugar spikes and can help manage type 2 diabetes.
We tend to hear much emphasis on calories, carbohydrate counting and the glycemic index when asking about type 2 diabetes management through diet. The most often forgotten nutrient for health is the most important: water. Many of our clients with type 2 diabetes are on the run and may remember to eat, yet do not take adequate time for drinking calorie-free, caffeine-free beverages to rehydrate. Since our bodies are comprised of nearly 70% water, it makes good sense to take in fluids daily to balance out our needs. Sometimes the recommended “8, 8 ounces of water per day” is not enough. A quick assessment of the color of urine coming out, depending on vitamin supplements and medications, can help determine what the right amount of liquid is daily. The lighter the color, the better!
Carry a Rescue Snack: Going too long without eating can lead to dips in blood sugar, sometimes called “lows”, which create unpleasant symptoms, including ravenous hunger. This often leads to poor food choices, since we’re more focused on eating anything in sight, even if it’s not healthy. Rather than getting to this point, keep a healthy snack with you throughout the day in case you get stuck somewhere you didn’t plan at a mealtime. A balanced snack will combine a nutritious carb or veggie + source of protein or healthy fat.The chart below provides portable options you can mix and match to your tastes:
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