Posted on October 18 2022
India is often referred to as the diabetes capital of the world and with reason. Nearly 44 million people in India are diagnosed with diabetes with Kerala taking the lead with a looping 67% of adults attend between 45 and 67.
Growing old and being diagnosed with diabetes is almost a norm now, and the geriatric population have accepted and learnt to live with the diseases.
But little are we aware on the serious long- term implications of diabetes on overall health. For example, being diabetic is a number one risk factor for kidney diseases. Kidney diseases often ends with dialysis. Patients on dialysis have less than a 50% chance of survival in a five year period.
Is Diabetes Genetic?
Alas, what can you even do if you were dealt the gene card to begin with. If your parents have diabetes, no change in your lifestyle can change that, right? Wrong!
Gene's can only load the gun, but your nutritional and lifestyle choices are what pull the trigger. In fact, even in twin studies, one twin has less than a 40% probability of developing type 1 diabetes if the other one has it. Even if they share the same genetics!
Statistically, genetics can pre- dispose you to diseases in less than 7% of all diseases. Diabetes not being one of them.
Some of our gene's are dictators, meaning, they dictate how you turn out. An example of this would be the colour of your eye or the colour of your hair. You cannot do anything to change this type of gene. But other gene's are committers, like a committee member, they can only suggest a particular outcome, but really, its your lifestyle choices that govern the final outcome.
If you look at some global studies, obesity is a far more stronger determinant of diabetes that genetics. The most obese populations across the globe also carry the highest risk for diabetes. Should we not then switch the focus from gene's to obesity?
If you are currently struggling from diabetes, remove the though from your head that it is genetic. This puts you in a victim position. Instead, understand how you can start working on lifestyle and nutritional changes to help manage diabetes.
With 90% of of my clients, we see the fasting blood glucose drop in as little as 21 days of making lifestyle changes! HbA1C in almost every single case shows an improvement in 12 weeks. We never discuss gene's, but rather, switch the focus to making sustainable lifestyle changes.
What foods cause diabetes?
We often blame carbs and sugar as being the root cause for diabetes, but they receive more negative light than they should.
But human's have been using carbs as a source of fuel since the beginning of life. Any food your eat, is broken down into glucose particles and used as a source of fuel to help your body function.
Even protein's cannot be used up by the cells to function unless they are first converted to carbs through a process called gluconeogenesis and then used as a fuel source.
When one is struggling from diabetes, it simply means that their body does not do a very good job in using glucose as a fuel source. Read more here:
Carbs are not bad, they are your primary fuel source. It is simply your bodies ability to break down carbs that is the problem.
What then reduces your bodies ability to breakdown carbs, lets look at a few food groups:
1) Saturated Fats:
The kind of fats found in read meat, oil's, eggs and dairy by products like butter, cheese and ghee.
2) Cow's Milk:
In cross- country research studies, there seems to be a very strong relationship between dairy consumption and the increase in cases of type 1 diabetes.
Now this linear correlation is seen globally and too much of a coincidence to ignore. In fact, even babies who drink breast milk seem to be protected against type 1 diabetes VS babies who are given cow's milk.
Turns out, that milk consumption in humans triggers an attack by our own immune system. Bovine protein, as found in dairy is toxic and carcinogenic (cancer causing). When this enters our system, our body produces anti- bovine protein anti- bodies to attack the incoming toxins.
This study also shows that every single child tested with type 1 diabetes also had elevated levels of anti- bovine protein anti- bodies.
The problem is, these antibodies also end up destroying the beta cells of the pancreas by mistake, reducing your bodies ability to break down glucose and leading to diabetes.
If disease reversal, and not only mere symptom management is your goal, then stop all dairy product consumption immediately.
3) Sugar's and artificial sweeteners:
How often do we see diabetic patients switch from using table sugar to zero calorie sweeteners in the name of health. These can be as harmful as sugar's itself in keeping you diabetic.
Foods to include for Diabetes Management.
Now that we know what not to eat, let's look at what we should be eating before we look at specific recipes.
1) Leafy greens:
Leafy green's like spinach, mustard greens, kale, rocket leaves etc are low in calories but packed with nutrients.
2) Spices and Herbs:
Instead of trying to include this every now and then, strategically make lifestyle changes so a few of these naturally become a part of your diet. For example, maybe switching your evening coffee for Giloy tea or having a flaxseed laddoo as a snack instead of reaching out for biscuits with chai.
3) Pulses/ Lentils:
Most often, in the fear of eating carbs, we tend to ignore eating pulses and lentils. But these little superfoods have infinite benefits.
Pulses and lentils are rich in resistant starch. They are basically termed as prebiotics, as they feed the good bacterial population of you gut. The more your good gut bacteria thrive, they better your insulin sensitivity.
Besides this, lentils and pulses are well knows for their Second Meal Effects phenomenon. Lentils and pulses dont only shun the blood glucose spike you experience after a meal, but also reduce the blood glucose spike for the NEXT meal.
This means, having a besan chilla or missi roti for breakfast will result in a lower blood glucose spike for lunch, even if you ate plain sugar- water for lunch!
Top ten dinner recipes for Diabetes Management.
While diabetes management for every client is subjective, there are a few common do's and don's like we saw above that I insist all clients follow.
Here are a few dinner recipe idea's, the kind of food most of my clients on the program eat.
- Finger millet (ragi) Idly.
These fluffy idly's are made from millets and lentils. While millet's are naturally low in GI, lentils play a role in further reducing the post meal glucose spike.
- Oats Pongal
Oats are rich in soluble fiber, the kind of fiber that helps reduce cholesterol and maintains optimal gut health. This recipe is a healthier twist on the traditional pongal, as it omit's the use of white rice.
This is my personal favourite go- to recipe too as it is so tasty and easy to make. Make sure to avoid ghee while cooking, instead, swap for a few drops of canola oil (no more than a few drops please). Pair this with steamed vegetables and a nice channa daal chutney.
- Missi Roti and Palak sabzi.
Another delicious plant- based recipe that is naturally low in GI and yet packed with nutrients.
I am always looking for ways to add more leafy greens to my recipes and this is just one of that. Missi roti is made with chickpea flour or leftover daal VS 100% whole wheat, adding some lentils to the recipe and making it low in GI.
Avoid using any cheese, cream, butter or ghee to make the spinach curry. Keep it as simple as possible with bold use of spices for the flavour.
- Brown rice masala khichdi
This is literally comfort food! And can be made very healthy if you choose to. In the recipes I share with my clients, we do not use any oil's or ghee while preparing the kidchdi.
Make sure to use a ratio of 20% grains, 30% lentils and 50% vegetables. Particularly aim to use cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and radish.
Even though you choose to not use any oil's the bold use of spices is enough to guarantee a great taste! Best paired with a glass of vegan homemade buttermilk.
- Sweet Potato and Lentil Stew.
If meal prep's is your style of eating, then this stew is your best friend. Prepare a big batch over the weekend for ready to go dinner options through the week.
- Vegan Butternut Squash Curry.
Butternut squash or Pumpkin curry is a great alternative to potato's. They are low in GI and dense in fiber. Pumpkin's are also rich in vitamin C and Iron.
You can sauté the curry with whole spices and no oil's at all. Just use water to sauté onions and tomatoes before adding the powdered spices. Pair this pumpkin curry with a bowl of foxtail millets or bajra phulka.
- Besan and Palak Dhokla.
A healthy twist to a traditional recipe. The wonderful bright green colour to the dhokla will surely get the kids in the house running to the dinning table for second servings!
Instead of using all shoji flour to make this dish, use a combination of chickpea flour and sooji. The dish also lacks vegetables and would be best to pair this with a clear vegetable and garlic soup.
Aim to consume as many cruciferous vegetables as possible through the week. They are anti- inflammatory and even protect you against cancers.
- Creamy broccoli and tofu curry.
Tofu must be part of your weekly menu, especially if you are nearing menopause. Soy beans and soy bi- products like Tofu are rich in isoflavons, the phytonutrients that protect you against the harmful effects of excess sex hormones in the body.
The vibrant yellow colour of the curry is due to the medicinal herb turmeric. This curry is also an opportunity to use as many vegetables as you have handy, making it a wholesome dish. Pair's well with black or brown rice.
- Mushroom and red rich pulao.
Mushrooms are other one of those superfoods you do not want to miss on while preparing your weekly menu. They protect you against thyroid disorders and are rich in essential minerals.
This easy to prepare dish makes for a fulfilling dinner option. Sprinkle some spring onions to the dish and pair it with a sugar free lemon aid for warm summer evenings. Mushrooms are low calories, but fiber rich, filling you up fast without adding to your waistline.
- Barnyard millet Kozzukatti.
A South Indian staple dish which is already healthy, made even more healthier using millets instead of rice. This dish is steamed, omiting the need to use any oil's in the first place.
Pair this with a vegetable sambhar and even a high protein lentil chutney if you wish. Barnyard millets are exceptionally healthy and an essential source of proteins, zinc and vitamins. What's more, they are low in GI, making it a perfect dish for those fighting diabetes.
Diabetes management requires a three dimensional approach. Meaning, you have to work on your:
- Structured fitness routine
Ignoring any one of them will only give you partial results. But once you work on making sustainable changes, your body will reward you in a matter of weeks. Most clients on my program see their blood glucose values group in as little as 21 days. That's how strong your body is, if given a chance to fix itself.
For a customised meal plan from me, make sure to checkout my diabetes management protocol here.
Looking for a Diabetes Reversal through nutrition? Fill this form below to get in touch with me.
Let's Just Talk. No Obligations.
I do free consultations every Tuesday's and Thursday's. Either way you will get some actionable tips to reach your fitness goals faster.