Healthy eating and lifestyle tips for diabetes

Diabetes, blood pressure | November 15, 2016 | Author: Naturopath

Blood pressure, diabetes

Healthy eating and lifestyle tips for diabetes

According to Diabetes Australia, diabetes is the biggest challenge confronting Australia’s health system, with around 1.7 million Australians having diabetes. On average, 280 Australians develop diabetes every day, which translates to one person every five minutes.

What is Diabetes?

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare defines diabetes as a chronic condition marked by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. It is caused either by the inability to produce insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas to control blood glucose levels) or by the body not being able to use insulin effectively.

There are three types of diabetes

Type 1 diabetes - is an autoimmune disease that develops when the immune system destroys the insulin-making cells in the pancreas.

Without insulin, glucose cannot be transported into the cells, and consequently blood glucose levels rise. 

The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. It can occur at any age, but usually in people under the age of 30. 

Lifelong insulin replacement will be required to manage this type of diabetes, alongside a healthy diet and exercise.

Type 2 diabetes - The most common type of diabetes (85%-90% of all cases of diabetes) in which the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin and/or the pancreas gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin. Type 2 diabetes usually develops over the age of 45 years, but more and more children and young adults develop it due to a growing number of overweight youth. It is managed with a combination of healthy diet, physical activity, and weight loss, however some people will need medications and/or insulin as well.

Gestational diabetes - High blood sugar levels appearing for the first time during pregnancy, usually in the second or third trimester. Blood sugar usually returns to normal soon after delivery, but increases your risk for type 2 diabetes.

What is Pre-diabetes?

A condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. This condition increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Healthy Eating for Diabetes

There is no specific diabetes diet. However, a healthy balanced diet is important in order to control your blood sugar levels and preventing diabetes complications.

Carbohyderates. Focus on whole grain carbs as they are high in fibre and digested slowly, thus preventing your body from producing too much insulin and keeping blood sugar levels more even. Include brown or wild rice, sweet potatoes, wholemeal bread and pasta, still-cut or rolled oats.

Limit refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, and rice, as well as sugary breakfast cereals, instant oats, soft drinks, juices, and processed and snack foods.

Protein. The American Diabetes Association recommends getting the majority of your proteins from plant sources, as they are high in fibre and healthy fats. Plant sources of proteins include beans, lentils, nuts, and soy products (tofu, tempeh, Edamame). For animal sources of proteins, include 2 fish meals per week, and choose skinless chicken. Limit your red meat intake, as high intakes of red meat and meat products have been associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Dairy. Diabetes Australia and the American Diabetes Association recommend choosing low fat cheese, yoghurt and milk. In contrast, a large population study observed a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes in the group that consumed high-fat dairy products, such as cream, high-fat fermented milk, and butter, thus concluding that dairy fat may actually play a protective role against type 2 diabetes.

Fats. Enjoy healthy fats from avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds, and fish. Limit intake of saturated fats and trans fats from pastries, cakes, puddings, chocolate, pre-packaged biscuits, cakes, chips, frozen and convenience meals, processed deli meats and sausages, and fried foods.

Fruits and vegetables. 

Eat in abundance, especially non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, salad greens, and green beans. Include rainbow of colours.

Mediterranean Diet

Numerous studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet plays an important role in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes.

The traditional Mediterranean diet is characterised by high consumption of vegetables and fruit, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and olive oil, moderate consumption of fish and wine, and low consumption of red and processed meat and whole-fat dairy products. It is thought that the increased intake of dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants and polyphenols in the Mediterranean diet, provide protection from diabetes.

Go vegan. One study found that a vegan diet consumed for 3 months, containing whole grains (mainly in the form of brown rice), vegetables, fruit, and legumes, is more effective for sugar control among type 2 diabetes patients compared with a conventional diabetes diet.

Lifestyle Changes for Type 2 Diabetes

  • Exercise. Regular physical activity lowers blood sugar and can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
     
  • Lose weight. Type 2 diabetes is closely associated with weight. Losing weight by 5-10% may reduce the risk of developing diabetes and improve control blood sugar levels.
     
  • Quit smoking. Smoking is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and with developing complications from diabetes.
     
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol can increase the risk of hypoglycaemia in people with type 2 diabetes who take medications. Consume in moderation.
     
  • Stress reduction. Chronic stress can interfere with blood sugar regulation. Get plenty of rest and practice relaxation through meditation, breathing, yoga, etc.  

A health professional can help you create a meal plan and a specialised and individualised exercise prescription that fits your life style, health goals, and food preferences.

References

American Diabetes Association 2016, What can I eat, ADA, retrieved 1 November 2016,

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016, What is Diabetes? HIAW, retrieved 1 November 2016

Diabetes Australia 2016, Diabetes in Australia, Diabetes Australia, retrieved 1 November 2016,

Esposito, K, Maiorino, MI., Bellastella, G, et al. (2015). A journey into a Mediterranean diet and type 2 diabetes: a systematic review with meta-analyses. BMJ Open, 5(8), e008222.

Ericson, U, Hellstrand, S, Brunkwall, L, et al. (2015). Food sources of fat may clarify the inconsistent role of dietary fat intake for incidence of type 2 diabetes. The American journal of clinical nutrition, vol: 101 (5) pp: 1065-80.

Lee, Y.-M., Kim, S.-A., Lee, I.-K., et al. (2016). Effect of a Brown Rice Based Vegan Diet and Conventional Diabetic Diet on Glycemic Control of Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A 12-Week Randomized Clinical Trial. PLoS ONE11(6), e0155918.

Mayo Clinic 2016, Diabetes, Mayo Clinic, retrieved 1 November 2016,

Natural Medicines 2016, Diabetes, Natural Medicine, retrieved 1 November 2016,  <http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com>

backBack to Blog Home