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5 simple tips for improving your diabetes diet

09th July 2015 by admin
diabetes diet

Diabetes sufferers may find it difficult to keep their weight under control, as the changes in blood sugar levels and the altered response to insulin may cause one to gain or lose weight unintentionally. Controlling the intake of carbs and fats is one strategy for maintaining a healthy weight, but even more important than the amount of foods one eats is the source of these nutrients.

Not all carbs are bad, and not all fats are damaging for diabetes sufferers, so let’s take a look at some diet strategies that can help a diabetes patient avoid the undesirable rise in blood glucose and the complications triggered by hyperglycemia episodes.

1. Eat more fiber to keep blood sugar under control

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate, so you may think it’s damaging for someone who suffer from diabetes, but unlike simple and complex carbs, fibers are not broken down inside the body so they pass through the digestive system without affecting the blood sugar levels. Eating more fiber helps diabetics keep their blood sugar and blood pressure under control.

Foods rich in fibers include fresh veggies and fruits, whole grain bread and cereals, cooked beans and peas and brown rice.

2. Avoid bad fats to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke

Diabetes sufferers are more likely to develop heart disease and to suffer a stroke, due to the hardening of artery walls and to the clogged blood vessels. Thus, for avoiding these problems, one should control the intake of fatty foods that can favor the formation of plaque. Such foods include animal proteins like beef and pork, sausages, bacon, hot dogs and all meat products rich in saturated fats. Also, trans fats like those found in margarines, shortenings, baked goods, processed snacks and fast food should be avoided.

Although it’s now accepted that fats from fish and eggs are healthy, diabetes sufferers should still watch the intake of these foods, especially of products rich in cholesterol, like egg yolks, shellfish, liver or other such products. High-fat dairy products like cheeses, full milk and some yogurts should also be avoided, so as to keep the total intake of cholesterol under 300 mg per day.

Fats that are safe and recommended to diabetic patients include fish like halibut, cod and tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel and bluefish. These are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which help in lowering the blood levels of triglycerides and keep the cardiovascular system healthy. Consume the fish mostly grilled or baked, but avoid fried fish.

Besides these fats, those found in avocados and nuts – walnuts, pecans, almonds and peanuts – are also good, so you can include them in your diet in small amounts. Olive oil is safe as well but like any other oil it should be consumed sparingly as it is high in calories, and for diabetes sufferers it’s very important to keep not only their blood sugar levels but also their weight under control.

3. Reduce the intake of salt to maintain a healthy blood pressure

Hypertension is common among diabetes sufferers, so if you want to reduce your risk and keep blood pressure under control, you should limit not only the intake of fats but also of salt. Too much salt can alter your blood’s composition and favor water retention as well, so it may lead to even more complications besides the higher blood pressure.

To keep the consumption of salt under control, avoid adding salt to foods and stay away from boxed and canned foods like meat, pasta, shortenings, canned mashed potatoes or rice, canned soups, ketchup, dressings and spreads, cured and processed meat, pickled foods, gravies, sausages, salty snacks and salted olives.

4. Choose your beverages carefully to avoid hypo- and hypertension episodes

Water is the safest choice for sure, but it’s not the only beverage that is recommended to diabetes sufferers. People suffering from this condition can safely drink herbal teas, as well as coffee, as long as they don’t exceed 2-3 cups per day. An interesting study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that drinking 4 to 6 cups of coffee per day can lower the risk of diabetes type 2 by 29%-54%, so it’s safe to choose coffee, but avoid adding sugar or milk in it.

Low-fat milk may be a good option as well, and flavored water – prepared with fresh slices of veggies or fruits, and containing no added sugar, can be a delicious choice. Still, try to avoid diet sodas, as there are several studies that suggest that consuming artificial sweeteners may lead to glucose intolerance and worsen the health of diabetes type 2 sufferers in the long run.

5. Split carbs evenly between meals

Carbs have the strongest impact on blood sugar levels; simple carbohydrates are broken down faster inside the body therefore they can cause spikes in blood sugar, while complex carbohydrates take longer to digest therefore provide steady energy and are less likely to cause hyperglycemia episodes. If you suffer from diabetes, you can eat a combination of complex and simple carbs, but should be careful to split them evenly between meals so as to keep glycemia under control.

Aim to eat mostly complex carbohydrates like those found in vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts, and fewer simple carbs, such as those in fruits, starchy veggies, bread, cereal, rice, pasta or milk and dairy products. Counting the grams of carbs consumed on a daily basis is also helpful for keeping glycemia levels within normal limits, as the amount of glucose (sugar) you consume affects your insulin levels.

Eating too low amounts of carbs can cause hypoglycemia, while eating too many carbs can lead to hyperglycemia episodes, so you should try to keep each serving of carbs around 15 grams. As often as possible, opt for foods that provide both complex carbs and fibers, and pick the healthier alternatives when you have to choose between white and whole wheat flour, white and brown rice, or fruit with different glycemic indexes.

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