Posted on January 24 2022
The World Health Organisation(WHO) states a count of 422 million diabetic people! This global count is more particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Also, 1.5 million deaths globally directly associates with diabetes every year.
But what is this condition? And how does it affect our body?
Diabetes is a chronic and metabolic disease of an elevated glucose (or sugar) level in blood.
Scientifically, blood glucose is a primary source of energy of the body and comes from food. Insulin, a hormone created by the pancreas, is responsible for the metabolization of glucose.
However, sometimes, the body doesn't make enough insulin or use the insulin at all. In such a case, the glucose remains in the blood and doesn't reach the cells. As a result, this glucose over time increases and causes diabetes. If diabetes is not regulated, it causes severe health damage to the heart, blood vessels, kidney and nerves. Watch this video to understand more:
The most common diabetes type is the type 2 diabetes, usually found in adults.
Type 1 diabetes, also popular as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a type where the pancreas produces very little to no insulin. People with diabetes 1 are entirely dependent on insulin.
How to avoid diabetes from worsening or occurring? Let’s find out!
What type of foods to avoid in type 2 diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is almost always preventable, in many cases treatable and even reversible!
Also, its consequences are avoidable or can be delayed with physical activity, meditation, regular check-ups and most importantly, a balanced diet.
Diet plays an incredible role in preventing and reversing the consequences of diabetes. But we are often clueless on how and what should we incorporate into our diet.
Here is a list of foods to avoid:
- Sugar/sweetened beverages:
Sweetened beverages maybe refreshing, but could be dangerous to our health. It is because these drinks are high in calories and lack healthy nutrients. These drinks have sucrose or artificial sweeteners, which strongly links to insulin resistance and diabetes. They are also high in sugar, leaving long-term health issues and causes a spike in glucose or sugar level.
According to a Harvard University research study, people who consume sugary beverages like sodas, cola, fruit juices, energy drinks etc add extra calories to the diet.
Also, people who consume 1-2 cans of sugary beverages or more a day have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely have such drinks. Such risks are even higher in the young adults in the present context.
The study also found that drinking more artificially sweetened beverages did not lessen diabetes risk. Therefore, people diagnosed with diabetes must strictly avoid these sweetened drinks. They can instead replace the drinks with water and herbal tea’s, which links to reducing risk of diabetes by 2-10%.
Not only are dairy products high in saturated fats, but they also contain growth and sex hormones. Commercial dairy is almost always adulterated and filled with hormones.
Besides this, dairy is also a cause for type 1 diabetes as consumption of dairy is associated with the destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas. These are the cells responsible to produce insulin. Childhood dairy consumption is strongly linked to diabetes (both types). Read this to know more:
Dairy consumption also boosts the production of AGEs (advanced glycation end- products) in the body. These are inflammatory molecules that lead to severe metabolic diseases besides diabetes.
According to several studies, total cholesterol, animal protein, and heme iron found in red meat and various processed meat is associates with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. A study was conducted over a span of 17 years on 8401 individuals free of diabetes at baseline derived the following results:
- It found out that the group that reported consuming meat (red meat, poultry, and fish) at least weekly , were 29% more likely to have developed diabetes, compared to the ones that avoided meat.
- Also, the ones who reported consuming processed meat were correlated with a 27% increased risk of diabetes compared to those who avoided processed meat.
- Furthermore, the ones who reported long term consumption of meat had a 74% increased risk for developing diabetes.
Another study in 2018 by Harvard University concluded that not only consumption of meat but also cooking methods may contribute to the diabetes risk. It also states that if one wants to avoid diabetes, it is imperative to reduce the consumption of red and processed meat. Try to replace meat with other plant protein sources such as pulses/ grains and tofu.
Additionally, one must avoid high-temperature cooking methods, including grilling, barbecuing, and instead choose medium cooking temperature methods like sautéing, boiling, or steaming.
Also checkout: Vegetarian Diet For Type-2 Diabetes Reversal
- Food high in Sugar and Preservatives:
We often come across foods with higher sugar and preservatives. The enticing name and marketing strategy makes people think they are good for our diet.
A prominent example is cereals! Cereals are the most sweetened options sold in the name of being healthy. But eating cereal can be one of the worst ways to start the day if you are diabetic. Here is a disturbing image:
Despite the health claims on the boxes, most cereals are highly processed and contains very little nutritional value.
People with diabetes often avoid sugar treats like deserts, candy and cookies and take honey and maple syrup instead. However, those are not the healthy option either!
They are just other forms of sugar, which again may cause a spike in blood sugar. Although these sweeteners are not highly processed, they still cause an insulin spike.
- Packaged foods:
Pretzels, crackers and packaged snacks are unhealthy foods for our bodies. They are typically made with refined flour and provide very few nutrients. Instead, they are high in fast-digesting carbs, which can be extremely dangerous. These fast-digesting carbs may rapidly increase blood glucose or sugar. Therefore, if you feel hungry between meals, go for a fruits, dry fruits, and a legume based snacks.
- White bread, rice and pasta
These are mostly deprived of their fibre and extremely processed. Eating them and other refined flour foods increases the blood sugar level in diabetic 1 & 2 people. Fibres are essential micronutrient and slows the absorption of sugar into bloodstream. Increased fibre consumption also improves gut microbiota which results in improved insulin sensitivity.
Therefore, it is best to replace these low fibre food with high fibre food. It will balance the glucose level in diabetic people and, if not diagnosed, will help prevent the risk of diabetes.
10 Superfoods that can help with Type 2 Diabetes Management and Why?
Amla is native to subtropical South Asian countries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Amla is also popular as gooseberry and has exceptional antioxidant content.
The berries are juiced for their extract and dried into powders and capsules. This fruit is rich in phenols, flavonoids, tannins, and several other antioxidants. The Indian gooseberries contain 20 times more amount of vitamin C than an orange.
Amlas role in regulating diabetes:
Amla is one healthy food used by Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It has good medicinal properties which led practitioners to recommend it as a general health tonic.
Several research papers also claim that regular consumption of amla can boost immune system, detoxify the body, and slow down the ageing process. But do you know that this fruit has a potential anti-diabetic effect?
A study in 2011 stated that people with or without diabetes who consumed amla fruit powder had a significant reduction in their fasting and non-fasting blood glucose levels. It indicated that Indian gooseberry might effectively contribute to managing diabetes. It contains chromium that regulates carbohydrate metabolism. It makes the body more responsive to insulin and contributes to healthy blood sugar levels.
Consuming the juice of 5-10 ml daily to control high blood sugar also helps maintain a healthy weight. However, make sure to avoid the processed form of amla juice (the one with added sugar and preservatives).
2. Black cumin
Black cumin or Nigella sativa is a herb that has magical qualities. This plant exists in southwestern Asia, and parts of the Mediterranean and Africa. It has a long history of use in culinary and Ayurveda to treat various ailments.
Along with its several medical benefits, there is evidence that black cumin is effective against diabetes and hypertension and be helpful as an anti-inflammatory ingredient.
According to a 2019 study, black cumin has significantly not only improved glycemic state but also controlled diabetes with a significant fall in fasting blood glucose and even HbA1c levels. It also reduces pancreatic inflammation and may improve insulin production levels.
Additionally, the study suggested that this ingredient can be used as a booster for oral anti-diabetic drugs in diabetic control. Therefore, it is best to incorporate black cumin seed in your diet. 1/4th of a teaspoon consumed once daily is enough to show results.
Research estimated that millets were probably first cultivated 4000 years ago in Asia. Later on, they became significant crops in Europe during the middle ages.
However, they remain essential food staples in many regions of the globe. A type of millet, called Pearl millet, also called Bajra is most effective in diabetes management. Millets are also a great alternative to white rice and bread in daily use.
Millet and its benefit on diabetes:
Studies show that consuming millets substantially reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It also helps manage the blood glucose levels in diabetic people. Drawing on research from 11 countries, a study published in Frontiers in Nutrition shows that diabetic people who kept millet as a part of their daily diet saw a significant drop in their glucose level by 12-15% (fasting and post-meal).
The blood glucose levels also went from diabetic to pre-diabetic levels miraculously. The study found that millets have a low average glycemic index (GI) of 52.7. This is about a GI level 36% less than milled rice and refined wheat and about 14-37 GI lower compared to maize. Because it is low in GI and high fibre content, it helps prevent a sudden spike in blood sugar after meals.
Cinnamon is a spice comprised of the dried inner bark, which is brown and has a warm sweet flavour. It was once more valuable than gold due to its beneficial properties. It is native to Sri Lanka, the Malabar coast of India and cultivated in Myanmar, South Africa, and West Indies.
The distinct smell and flavour of cinnamon occur due to its oily part, which has high content of cinnamaldehyde. Scientists believe that cinnamaldehyde is responsible for powerful effects on health and metabolism. Cinnamon has plenty of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties. It is also known for its anti-diabetic effect.
Cinnamon and diabetes:
Cinnamon has shown significant blood sugar lowering properties. It has a beneficial effect on insulin resistance.
Additionally, it also maintains sugar levels by various other mechanisms. Cinnamon reduces the glucose that enters the bloodstream after a meal. It does that by interfering with digestive enzymes. This then slows down the breakdown of carbohydrates in the digestive tract. It also mimics insulin which increases its ability to move blood sugar into cells.
A research study by American Diabetes Association concluded that cinnamon reduced the fasting serum glucose by 19-29 % and triglyceride, 23,-30% and cholesterol by 12-26 % levels on people with type 2 diabetes. Further, it stated that cinnamon in people with type 2 diabetic can reduce the risk factors associated with diabetes. Therefore, it is best to incorporate cinnamon into your diet.
It is best to consume a dose of 1-6 grams or around 0.5- 0.75 teaspoons per day.
5. Brewers Yeast
Brewers yeast comes from a fungus called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It is generally used to make beers. However, many cultivators grow and use it as a nutritional supplement.
Brewers Yeast is a rich source of minerals, particularly selenium, protein, B complex vitamins and chromium. The vitamin B complex components in brewers yeast include
- B1 (thiamine),
- B2 (riboflavin),
- B3 (niacin),
- B5 (pantothenic acid),
- B6 (pyridoxine),
- B9 (folic acid), and
- H or B7 (biotin).
These vitamins breaks down the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to give energy.
Brewers yeast role in diabetes:
Certain studies suggest that the vitamin rich factor helps Brewers Yeast to regulate a healthy blood sugar level. Also, chromium supplement, a component of Brewers Yeast, helps decrease blood sugar levels.
It also improves glucose tolerance, and reduces the amount of insulin needed. A study also affirmed that dietary supplementation with brewers yeast, besides the usual diabetes treatment, can lower blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Flaxseed, a produce of the flax plant was first cultivated in ancient Egypt and China, though later cultivated worldwide. In Asia, it had a prominent role in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.
The nutrients in the flaxseed include lignans, antioxidants, fibre, protein, and polyunsaturated fatty acids such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) or omega 3. Flaxseeds is available in the form of seeds, oils, powders, tablets and flour. Thus, it has multiple health benefits. It is also known for being good for diabetes.
Flaxseed and diabetes:
Flaxseed contains 32-45% of mass as oil, of which 51-55% is linoleic acid. Due to its antioxidant, hypolipidemic (cholesterol reducing) and hypoglycemic (glucose reducing) effects, flaxseed is beneficial for treating diabetes.
A 2016 rodent study suggested that flaxseed can help manage both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It further stated that flaxseed has a great potential to reduce the incidence of type 1 diabetes and may delay the development of type 2 diabetes.
You can consume flaxseed right away to have the health benefits. However, flaxseed is best absorbed by the body in grounded form. Aim to consume one tbsp of ground flaxseed powder daily.
7. Giloy leaves:
Giloy, also known as Tinospora cordifolia, is climbing shrub of plant family Menispermaceae. The plant is a native to India and also exists in China and tropical areas of Australia and Africa.
Giloy is an essential herb for ayurvedic medicine. It is consumed by people for general wellness and to treat conditions like fever, infections, and diabetes.
Research found that compound terpenoids found in Giloy has antimicrobial, antiviral, anticancer, and anti-diabetic properties. This herb helps in the production of insulin, and it also may burn excess glucose, which further helps reduce blood sugar levels. Giloy also acts as a hypoglycemic agent and helps lower blood sugar levels.
One can consume the herb by blending it to juice-like consistency. Thereafter, strain the mixture in a glass and add a few drops of lemon juice to it. It is best to drink it the first thing in the morning to get effective results.
8. Korean Red Ginseng:
Ginseng herb originated in Asia, primarily in the cold temperate regions in North-East China and Korean peninsula. This herb is popular for its miraculous medicinal properties.
Ginseng improves brain function, relieves pain, prevents tumours, and enhances anti-tumour activity. It also boosts immune system function and liver function and helps control blood pressure. Additionally, ginseng has anti-fatigue, anti-stress, antioxidative, and anti-ageing effects. However, the herb is more popular for its anti-diabetic effect.
A research study aimed at the effects of ginseng on diabetes found that Ginseng saponin and ginsenoside Rh2 decreases high blood glucose.
It also improves diabetes by reducing Streptozotocin (STZ)- a diabetes causing susbtance. Ginseng also improves insulin secretion activity and helps improve the blood glucose level. It further balances the diabetes level in an individual.
9. Psyllium Husk:
Psyllium husk is a soluble fibre found in a shrub-like herb called Plantago ovata. The herb grows worldwide but is primarily available in India. It is popular as a pre- biotic supplement.
Researchers on studying Psyllium Husk found that consuming psyllium is beneficial to multiple parts of the body, including the heart and pancreas. It is prebiotic- a substance needed for maintaining a healthy colony of probiotics to grow in the gut. A healthy gut is a fundamental component that enables us to get a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, this herb is beneficial for diabetic patients.
Psyllium husk in diabetes management:
A research stated that the addition of psyllium to a traditional diet for persons with diabetes is safe and well-tolerated. It also improves glycemic and lipid control in men with type 2 diabetes and hypercholesterolemia.
10. Fenugreek seeds
Fenugreek seeds is a plant grown in parts of Europe and Western Asia. The leaves are edible, and so are the brown seeds popular for their use in medicine or medicinal purposes.
Fenugreek seeds are high in soluble fibre. It lowers blood sugar by slowing down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.
In one of the studies, researchers in India found that adding 100 grams of defatted fenugreek seed powder daily to patients with type 1 diabetes reduced their fasting glucose levels and improved glucose tolerance. Fenugreek seeds are mostly proclaimed to improve how the body uses sugar and increase the amount of insulin released.
Another study found that consuming 10 grams of fenugreek seeds soaked in hot water may help control type 2 diabetes. The study found that it decreased the blood sugar in fasting and post-meal by 25%. It concluded that fenugreek seeds can be an adjuvant in controlling type 2 diabetes. However, it is best to consult an expert before incorporating it into regular diet.
We have already understood what diabetes is and what causes it. To avoid diabetes, it is essential to consume food sources of complex carbs, vitamins, minerals, and primarily fibre. However, we often intake food high in calories and deficient in vitamins, minerals and fibre. Therefore healthful eating is essential to regulate and prevent the occurrence of diabetes.
Remember that a healthy diet also helps maintain blood glucose levels and can reverse its adverse effect on the body. Therefore, a person diagnosed with diabetes must reconsider their diet and stay physically active to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
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