Food For Diabetics
In people with diabetes the amount of glucose (or sugar) in the blood
becomes abnormally high. This is due, either to failure of the pancreas to
produce enough of the hormone insulin or to the lack of insulin actions. Type I
diabetes usually affects young adults and is due to a lack of insulin normally
produced by the pancreas. In type II diabetes which usually starts affect the
age of 40 the pancreas produces inadequate amounts of insulin and there is
reduction in the sensitivity of the body cells to the actions of insulin. Type
II diabetes is often triggered by obesity.
Women with diabetes who are being treated with insulin need to be particularly
careful to take meals at regular meals. Diabetics are no longer limited to a
high-carbohydrate/low-fat diet, according to the latest guidelines issued by the
American Diabetes Association (ADA). The recommendations indicate that:
Foods containing carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits, vegetables and
low-fat milk should be included in a healthy diet.
The total amount of carbohydrates in meals or snacks is more important
than the source or type.
Sucrose (table sugar) and sucrose-containing foods do not need to be
Non-nutritive sweeteners are safe when consumed within the acceptable
daily intake levels established by the Food and Drug Administration.
Specifically, the new guidelines recommend that carbohydrate and
monounsaturated-fat intake should account for 60 to 70 percent of
intake, and 15 to 20 percent of caloric intake should come from
Carbohydrate food sources recommended by the panel include whole grains, fruits,
vegetables and low-fat milk. Olive, canola and peanut oils, as well as avocados
and some nuts, are rich in monounsaturated fats. According to the new
guidelines, less than 10 percent of caloric intake should come from
fats. A dietary cholesterol intake of less than 300 milligrams a day is
recommended, and trans-unsaturated fatty acids should be minimized. The most
important nutrient in the treatment of diabetes is
manganese which is vital in
the production of natural insulin. It is found in citrus fruits, in the outer
covering of nuts, grains and in the green leaves of edible plants. Other
nutrients of special value are zinc,
B complex vitamins and
Oats contain soluble fibre, which slows the rate at which sugar
is absorbed into the blood and also reduces blood cholesterol. Raised
cholesterol levels are a risk factor associated with diabetes.
Beans, Chickpeas and Lentils are rich in soluble fibre and raise
blood sugar levels slowly. They are good sources of carbohydrates, protein
Apples, pears, apricots, cherries, grapefruit, oranges, peaches
and plums provide soluble fibre and release sugar into the
bloodstream slowly. These fruits make excellent snacks.
Pasta, sweet potatoes, and rye bread provide, a slow
steady release of energy and they are good source of carbohydrates for those
Bananas and grapefruit are good for diabetics as
long as you eat them in moderation and in rotation.
Whole grain bread, brown rice, whole meal pasta and wholegrain
breakfast cereals are rich in insoluble fibre. They supply zinc and
chromium which enhances the action of insulin.
Low fat yogurt and skimmed milk are very low in total and
saturated fats. These products provide carbohydrates, protein and calcium.
Lean red meat, poultry without skin, fish and tofu can be
low fat sources of protein. Limiting fat can help to
prevent weight gain and
reduce the risk of increasing blood cholesterol.
Mackerel, Salmon, Sardines and pilchards supply omega 3
fatty acids which are believed to help educe the risk of
Flax, Hemp and pumpkin seeds supply omega 3 fatty acids. A
mixture of these seeds can be sprinkled on to breakfast cereals or desserts.
Fruits and vegetables are excellent
sources of potassium, a deficiency of which is
associated with glucose intolerance. They are low in
calories and supply a variety of antioxidant
phyto-nutrients. Include vegetables like,
Asparagus, broccoli, beet leaves (boiled), Jerusalem
artichokes, cauliflower, dandelion greens, green peas,
mustard greens, alfalfa sprouts, parsley, radish,
spinach, kale, tomatoes, turnip greens, green beans.
Celery, cucumbers, string beans, onion and garlic are
Beverages: Pure water, herbal coffee substitutes, herbal teas
such as dandelion root, raspberry leaf, alfalfa, comfrey, nettle. Do not
drink coffee and caffeine containing beverages. Do not drink alcoholic
beverages and wines. Keep milk to a minimum. It is very mucus forming.
Herbs: Cedar berries, juniper berries, golden seal, sumac
berries, dandelion root, blueberry leaves, raspberry leaves.
Recent scientific investigations have established
that bitter gourd (karela) is highly beneficial in the
treatment of diabetes. It contains an insulin-like
principle, known as plant-insulin which has been found
effective in lowering the blood and urine sugar levels.
It should, therefore, be included liberally in the diet
of the diabetic. For better results, the diabetic should
take the juice of about 4 or 5 fruits every morning on
an empty stomach. The seeds of bitter gourd can be added
to food in a powdered form. Diabetics can also use
bitter gourd in the form of decoction by boiling the
pieces in water or in the form of dry powder.
FOOD TO AVOID
Sausages, burgers, meat pie and other fatty meat products, butter, cheese
and other full-fat dairy products contain significant amounts of saturated fats
which can raise blood cholesterol levels. Consumption of these foods needs to be
kept to an absolute minimum.
Soft Margarines that do not state, they are low in trans fats are best, avoided.
Trans fats have a similar cholesterol raising effect to saturated fats.
Sweets and sugar in rich foods need to be restricted. The exception to this
advice is when someone with type I- diabetes has a sudden drop in blood sugar
levels. Fast releasing sugar is then need to restore blood sugar levels quickly.
Exercise is important. In order to control body weight and prevent diabetes,
physical activity may help the body to process sugar more efficiently. People
with type I diabetes need to balance exercise with insulin injections and food
intake. Light games, jogging and
swimming are recommended.
Yogic asanas such as bhujangasana, shalabhasana, dhanurasana, paschimottanasana,
sarvangasna, halasana, ardha-matsyendrasana and shavasana, yogic krisyas like
jalneti and kunajl and pranayamas such as kapalbhati, anuloma-viloma and ujjai
are highly beneficial.
Brewer's yeast, is a rich source of chromium which improves the action of
Guar gum is extracted from a seed. When added to foods such as bread it helps to
slow the rate at which blood sugar levels are raised.
Pectin can be extracted from fruits. When taken in drinks, such as, skimmed
milkshakes if may reduce the amount of insulin required to lower blood sugar
Psyllium seeds are small dark reddish brown seeds that form a sticky mass when
mixed with water. Taken just before a meal psyllium seeds may reduce levels of
glucose in the blood.