Diabetes is the fastest growing disease in India. In fact, India is the diabetes capital of the world. Awareness about what diabetes is, preventing it, screening for it, and active management of the condition is the need of the hour. Simply put, diabetes is a condition wherein the sugar(glucose) levels in the blood are too high. Blood sugar or glucose is derived from the food we consume and insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas) helps the cells in the body absorb the glucose and convert it to energy. With diabetes, insulin is either deficient or isn’t produced in the body and this leaves the blood sugar levels very high. Chronically elevated glucose levels could cause cardiovascular diseases, peripheral neuropathy, and even stroke.
Different stages and types of diabetes
Type I diabetes
This is a condition where the body doesn’t produce insulin. Also known as juvenile diabetes, this condition requires the person suffering from it to take insulin externally every day.
Type II diabetes
This is a condition where the body doesn’t use the insulin produced effectively. This is the most common type of diabetes and is often triggered due to lifestyle choices. In fact, studies show a strong link between Type II diabetes and obesity.
Other types of diabetes are gestational, monogenic and cystic-fibrosis-related. These aren’t as common as Type II.
In this condition, a person’s body is less sensitive to the hormone and as a consequence, more insulin is necessary for the body to utilize the glucose in the blood. With impaired insulin sensitivity, the pancreas is forced to produce more insulin and the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas begin to wear out with time. This could eventually lead to low insulin production thus causing Type II diabetes.
With prediabetes, the blood sugar levels in the body are higher than normal but lower than the range for Type II diabetes. Normal blood sugar levels are typically between 70-99 mg/dL while a person with prediabetes could have it in the following range: 100-125 mg/dL. With proper management, prediabetes can be reversed.
How to tackle diabetes?
With Type I diabetes, insulin injections are compulsory. However, with Type II diabetes, diet and exercise can help in tackling, preventing and even reversing the condition. It is important to understand how Type II diabetes, insulin resistance, and prediabetes develop in most cases to understand how to tackle them. The condition could be due to genetic causes, having high blood pressure, PCOS, having a sedentary lifestyle or being overweight or obese. Thus, exercise, lifestyle-based changes, and diet can have a major impact on managing the condition.
Diet and its role in the reversal of pre-diabetes and Type II diabetes
With a diabetes diet plan, the goal is to keep the blood sugar levels controlled. Too much of glucose can cause problems such as peripheral neuropathy, problems with the retina (diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma), damage to the kidneys and cardiovascular complications in the long run. With very low glucose levels, there is the issue of hypoglycemia. Such being the case, it is of utmost importance to maintain the right levels of blood sugar in the body. Here are some of the popular dietary items that are recommended for people with Type II diabetes:
Greens: the lifeline for good health
Leafy greens are not just great sources of vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants, their carbohydrate count is low. This means that you can increase your greens and cut down on starchy carbs while planning your diabetes diet.
Nuts: the tasty alternatives
Nuts are known to be high in fiber and low on carbs. They also serve to regulate blood sugar and lower your inflammation as well. When you crave for a snack, munch on a few almonds or apricots. Nuts can also help lower your LDL levels which reduces your risk for cardiovascular diseases.
Avoid foods high in sugar
Foods rich in sugar directly release glucose in the body when digested and these aren’t well suited for people with prediabetes or Type II diabetes. Avoiding fried foods, sugary drinks, carbonated beverages, and high sugar desserts is a good idea in general and particularly so for diabetes. These food items contribute to empty calories; they don’t contain any nutritive value.
Avoid diets high in carbohydrates
As with sugary foods, carbohydrates also raise the blood sugar levels in the body. Choosing the source of carbs in your meal is important to ensure that your glucose levels are well regulated. White rice, fatty dairy, etc. are rich in carbs. It is important to substitute them with whole grains, proteins and good fats that have better nutrient value and release lower amounts of blood glucose when consumed.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Caffeine could lead to sleep deprivation and mess with your body’s biological pattern. This, in turn, could lead to cravings for high sugar foods and lead to further trouble. Excessive alcohol too isn’t advised for patients with Type II diabetes.
Also, switching to low-fat milk and fruits with lower sugar content can help you manage your blood glucose levels better.
The Meal Plan Checklist for Type II Diabetes
Glycemic index is a good option for choosing your food. Glycemic index is an indicator of the amount of glucose a particular food item will release post digestion in the bloodstream. A low glycemic index diet is thus the best option for people with Type II and pre-diabetes. We have made it easy for you. Here is a checklist of food items to include as well as to avoid in your everyday meal plans. Make sure to follow them as religiously as possible for better results.
- White rice, white bread, and pasta
- Fruit juices
- Processed food
- Deep fried food
- Dried fruits
- Honey, sugar, and jaggery
- Saturated and Trans Fats
- Sweetened cereals
- Leafy Greens
- Good Fats
- Lean proteins
- Whole grain cereals
- Fruits with low sugar content
Sample Diet Plan
Check out the sample diet plan for diabetes recommended by our qualified clinical dieticians on mfine.
Note: This is just a sample diet plan. It varies from person to person based on several factors.
The following natural foods are known to regulate blood sugar. Including them in your diet can help reverse or at least manage your blood sugar levels within range.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Chia seeds
Apart from maintaining a strict diet, it is important to lose weight, exercise regularly and stick to an active lifestyle. Research shows that losing weight and exercising for 30 minutes a day can help manage the situation well by reducing the blood sugar levels. However, it is important to check the blood sugar levels regularly and consult a diabetologist to ensure that you are on the right management plan for your condition. Also, in the case of dizziness when exercising or during strenuous activities, it is necessary to consult your doctor and see if the blood glucose levels are low.
With an active lifestyle, a well-balanced diet and exercise, preventing, managing, and even reversing the condition is possible. At mfine, you can consult online with top diabetologists and qualified clinical dieticians for your type II diabetes, pre-diabetes, and insulin resistance. Download the mfine app now!