Nowadays, diabetes is one of the most commonly diagnosed diseases of civilization. It is estimated that over 420 million people worldwide suffer from it, of which approximately 1.6 million people die each year. Although the highest percentage of diabetics is found in poor or middle-income countries, the disease also affects rich environments. Low physical activity, life in a hurry, eating processed food … All this promotes diabetes and leads to its rapid development. What to do to prevent diabetes from causing serious complications? How to eat to slow down the development of the disease?
Mitigating the Effects of Diabetes - Diabetic Diet
Diabetes mellitus is a disease whose treatment is extremely laborious and lengthy. Unfortunately, medication alone is not enough to get rid of the problem. Effective fight against diabetes is associated with a complete change in lifestyle – frequent sports, sleeping, avoiding stress and, above all, healthy eating. A special diet for a diabetic can significantly lower the concentration of glucose in the blood serum and thus prevent complications related to the disease. In addition, eating for diabetics lowers cholesterol, reduces blood pressure and can make it easier to lose unnecessary kilograms.
A diet with a low glycemic index
The most important factor in the selection of products in the diet for a diabetic is the glycemic index (GI), which is an indicator that tells us how rapidly blood glucose levels rise after consuming a given food. The GI value of individual products ranges from 0 to 100. The higher the index, the less recommended the product in a diabetic diet:
- IG ≤ 55 – low glycemic index – products recommended for diabetics,
- IG = 55-70 – average glycemic index – products safe for diabetics in a limited amount,
- IG ≥ 70 – high glycemic index – products potentially dangerous for diabetics.
A diet with a low glycemic index is in practice based on slightly processed products. The index applies to products that contain carbohydrates. Foods such as meat, fish, eggs, seafood and unprocessed dairy products do not contain them, so their GI is 0.
Nutritional errors in diabetes - low-fat diet
The first reaction for people learning about diabetes is usually to reduce the amount of fat in the diet. Unfortunately, a low-fat diet in diabetes is more and more often considered a mistake. Good-quality unprocessed fats do not contribute to the development of the disease. On the other hand, a low-carbohydrate diet with increased fat content is much more effective in reducing the side effects of diabetes. In such a diet, carbohydrates usually provide no more than 30% of energy. So it is in practice a low GI diet with the addition of grain products in moderate amounts.
Effective diet for a diabetic - rules
An ideal diabetic diet should be low in carbohydrate. This applies to both simple carbohydrates, which can be found in sweets, fruit or juices, as well as complex carbohydrates, which are an ingredient of groats, rice, bread or potatoes. The diet for a diabetic should include a maximum of 100-150 grams of carbohydrate per day. Their proper selection is an individual matter, so it is best to consult a diabetic’s menu with a dietician. Unfortunately, the simplest solution, which is practically cutting carbohydrates in the diet and replacing them with fats (ketogenic diet), is not healthy for everyone. Additionally, every diabetic should remember to eat regularly. Ideally, a low GI diet should include 4-5 meals a day eaten at fairly even intervals.
Diet for a diabetic - what to eat?
Every diabetic should pay attention primarily to the glycemic index of food products they intend to eat, as well as the method of thermal processing.
The diet should be varied and mainly consist of:
- meat and fish,
- natural dairy and milk products: yoghurt, buttermilk, kefir, cheese,
- some fruits in moderate amounts: oranges, apples, apricots, blueberries, strawberries, currants, unripe bananas, pears,
- some carbohydrates: brown rice, buckwheat and barley groats, whole grain pasta, oatmeal, bran,
- low GI bread: rye bread,
- most vegetables (preferably raw): broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, chickpeas, beans, peas, corn, peppers, carrots, lentils, radishes.
Low-carb diet for a diabetic - what not to eat?
People suffering from diabetes should eliminate most of the foods high in sugar and other carbohydrates from their daily diet. It is worth noting here that some products increase their glycemic index after cooking. Although the ingredients of a vegetable soup mostly have an index of 0, when a dish is heated and cooked, the GI of a dish is much higher. Additionally, it is worth paying attention to the method of preparing the dish – al dente pasta has a lower GI than overcooked pasta.
Diabetes should resign from:
- sugar, honey, sweets and sweetened milk products such as flavored yoghurts,
- boiled potatoes, broad beans,
- millet and corn groats, breakfast cereals, white rice, wheat tortillas,
- wheat bread, buns, cakes,
- dried and candied fruit, canned fruit, ripe bananas.
Diabetic diet - visit to a dietician
Although the rules by which we can select products that are good for diabetics are not complicated, it is much more difficult to determine the correct proportion of food consumed. The amount you eat should depend on your gender, weight, height, physical activity and nutritional purpose. To make sure your diet is well-balanced, you should entrust its preparation to a dietitian who specializes in diabetes and insulin resistance. During the visit, the dietician will ask you a few questions about your everyday life and food preferences. The dietician will also get acquainted with the results of your medical tests and on this basis you will get a tasty and varied low GI menu.