A diabetes diet for people who have tried everything else: this diet will change your life
Traditionally, medical treatments for diabetes have focused on lowering the blood levels of sugar in diabetic patients. Originally, injectable insulin was the drug of choice. In recent years, more medications have been added to the diabetes-fighting arsenal. These new drugs include, according to the American Diabetes Association website (1), thiazolidinediones, DPP-4 inhibitors, sulfonylureas, bile acid sequestrants, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, biguanides, meglitinides and SGLT2 inhibitors. While all of these drugs work differently in the body, and come with a myriad of side effects, their main purpose is to chemically lower blood glucose levels.
A diabetes diet for people who have tried everything else
Purely medical treatments are one way to address high blood sugar. But, even though insulin treatments have been the standard for more than 90 years, and even as more and more drugs are being introduced, some doctors are now beginning to stress the importance of diet and exercise in addressing diabetes. Some studies even suggest that the disease can be stopped in its tracks with changes in diet and lifestyle. Here are a few dietary changes you can make that may lessen your need for medical intervention, and may reverse your diabetes entirely.
- Take a good look at sugar -- It's a known fact that refined sugar in your diet can lead to obesity, and obesity is a risk factor for developing diabetes. Refined sugars cause blood sugar levels to spike and then drop. This not only leads to weight gain but also can cause you to feel hungry, which leads to eating unnecessary calories. Refined sugar is everywhere in our modern diets. It's in sodas; it's in cereals; it's even in ketchup and mayonnaise. To bring diabetes under control, it's important to avoid refined sugar in all its forms. Natural, alternative sweeteners include applesauce, dried fruits and stevia.
- Highly processed carbohydrates have to go -- When picking carbohydrates for your diet, choose whole grains, not highly processed carbs. Whole grains are packed with vitamins and micronutrients which are essential for your overall health, but they have also been found to protect against diabetes. The fiber and bran found in whole grains make them slower to digest. This action stabilizes the rise of blood sugar. The Nutrition Source (2) lists the benefits of whole grains as lowering total cholesterol levels, lowering blood insulin levels and stabilizing blood sugar levels after meals and throughout the day. In an analysis of the Nurses' Health Studies (3), researchers looked at the whole-grain consumption habits of over 160,000 women followed for 18 years. Those women who consistently ate whole grains and whole-grain products were a whopping 30 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than the women who didn't eat whole grains.
- Natural plant-based fats vs. animal and trans fats -- A study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (4), has found that increasing polyunsaturated fats -- such as those found in sunflower and olive oil -- and avoiding trans fats, greatly reduces the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, according to the article, simply replacing 2 percent of dietary trans fats with plant-based fats instead lowers the risk of diabetes by 40 percent.
- Don't forget supplements -- There are many vitamins and minerals with a proven track record for lowering blood sugar. Consider supplementing your new, healthy diet with chromium, magnesium and vanadium. Add antioxidant vitamins, as well, such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and selenium.
- Spice it up -- Herbs and spices are nature's fun way of improving our diets. They not only make us healthier but add flavor and interest to our food. Blood sugar-lowering spices and herbs include cinnamon, fenugreek and the nopal cactus.
The take away here is that the more natural your diet, the better your health. Replace processed sugars, flours and fats with their natural alternatives, and you're well on your way to a healthy life.