Indian Vegetarian Diet for Type 2- Diabetes Reversal.
Table Of Content
Cheene mat khao, chai bandh karo, bahar ka khana mat khao, jalebi ko toh dekhna he mat!- Feels like a life sentence, doesn't it?
Before I get into Indian Vegetarian Diet Plan For Type-2 Diabetes, let's understand few other things.
India is referred to as the diabetes capital of the world!
"In 2020, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), 463 million people have diabetes in the world and 88 million people in the Southeast Asia region. Of this 88 million people, 77 million belong to India. The prevalence of diabetes in the population is 8.9%, according to the IDF."- International Diabetes Federation.
Pricking yourself every week to test your blood glucose can be a pretty frustrating task. I have seen my father go through it and can relate with the same. In fact one of the reasons I choose this career as a holistic nutritionist is to help people heal through food.
No one should go through constant anxiety at the site of food they love. So let's discuss here how diabetes can be not only prevented, but also reversed with making lifestyle and nutritional changes.
What causes type 2 diabetes- really?
Imagine you eat something (anything). The moment you eat it, the food is broken down into something called 'glucose', or in simple terms, sugar.
Your body needs this glucose to perform activity. Anything you do, even the simplest thing like using your eyesight to read this blog requires energy constantly. When your body gets these sugar molecules, it quickly redistributes them to parts in the body where energy is required.
But we never eat exactly how much the body requires at that time. We might eat a little less or a little more. So the body makes a decision to store the excess glucose molecules we have not used up in the liver and muscles.
They are stored as something called 'glycogen'. This is extremely important because if we are starving or skip a meal, the glycogen will again be converted to glucose to be used for energy.
In the case of diabetes though, the body is not able to convert the glucose to glycogen and store it. Thus, there is excess free flowing glucose in the blood at all times and this is very dangerous.
What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?
The hormone responsible to convert the glucose to glycogen is called insulin. It is produced in the pancreas.
Unlike in type 1 diabetes, where the pancreas limit or even stop the production of insulin completely, type 2 diabetes is when the pancreas are producing enough insulin, but due to some reason, glucose is not being converted.
Think of insulin like a key, which when attached to the muscles and liver, opens a lock to let glucose in.
Does a low- carb diet help in diabetes management?
Sugar is a type of carb. What most people think is that only carbs are broken down into glucose so if we stop consuming carbs, there wont be excess free flowing glucose. Thus, they stop eating rice, roti's, bread etc.
Well that is not exactly true.
If your body doesn't get enough carbs, it starts breaking down proteins through the process of gluconeogenesis into glucose. Fats also can breakdown in a similar process to be used as energy. So limiting overall calories might have a short- term effect, but again, is not a long- term solution, as it will reduce the bodies overall metabolism.
Limiting carbs (or sugar) intake alone is not the solution.
Think of it this way. If the grass in your garden was turning brown, would you paint it green to make it look good? Or would you water the soil, add fertilisers, nurture the ground and make sure there is plenty of sunshine?
Stoping carbs is like painting the grass green. Its a temporary solution without going through the hard work of fixing the cause. You need to understand WHY the body is not storing the excess glucose as glycogen and WHY is the body not reacting to insulin.
Before we jump into nutrition, let's start by discussing lifestyle changes that help with fluctuating sugar level's.
I have linked a lot of studies down also for you to refer. Though there are no drastic steps mentioned below, do refer to your physician before making any lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle changes to help reverse diabetes:
- Optimal weight range:
Obesity is linked with diabetes unquestionably. A person with a BMI of 35 and above has a 93 times increased risk of diabetes than someone with a BMI of 25 or under.
Even if you are lean, having enough muscle mass is essential. Muscles require more glucose to function, thus, there is less free floating glucose.
So which diet to follow?
A whole food plant- based diet is the most effective when it comes to diabetes management.
A plant- based diet allows you to eat anything that comes from plants. You cut out on meat/ eggs and dairy, but choose to eat anything that is minimally processed and as close to nature as possible.
You do not have to worry about portion control or deprivation. You still get to enjoy your roti, sabzi, daal, chawal and still lose weight.
But what about Ghee? Isn't Ghee healthy? Watch this:
On long term studies done, it was evident that people who lost weight by switching to a plant- based diet are more likely to stick to their diet and maintain the weight loss vs a calorically restricted diet.
- Eat a minimum of two servings of beans/ pulses per day:
Your options are chickpeas, black beans, mung beans, rajma etc.
Think of eating plain rice. This causes your blood glucose levels to rise. But the same rice, when eaten with pulses/ lentils, cuts the rise of blood glucose to nearly half.
But not only that, if you have pulses for lunch, your blood glucose levels show a slower rice for dinner too, even if you have plain white sugar for dinner! This phenomenon is called the lentil effect and is widely studied.
This is because beans are PREbiotic fibre for the gut and triggers the production of something called SCFA's (short chain fatty acids). These SCFA's, boost insulin absorption in the body.
Consumption of whole grains and beans has also been shown to decrease insulin resistance in people.
Beans are fibrous carbs loaded with vitamins. The only thing you will have to keep in mind is adding a source of vitamin C like 1/2 lemon/ serving of beans for better absorption.
- Include 1/2 teaspoon of black cumin every morning:
Sometimes it's simple changes we need to include in our lifestyle for a big difference. This is one such simple change that literally does not require you to even lift a finger or extensively diet.
Over a thousand article have been published about the benefits of black cumin and diabetes reversal. Not only to control blood sugar levels, black cumin is well knows for its benefits in terms of reducing cholesterol and weight loss. Have a look at the meta- analysis below:
The above meta- analysis combined seven different research studies and showed the benefits of consuming just 1/2 teaspoon of black cumin per day.
I would suggest you to ideally do this empty stomach and not exceed more than 1/2 teaspoon.
Also, add fenugreek seeds (Methi) in your diet.
Considering you follow this lifestyle change while also working on the other changes talked about in this article, you should expect to see results within as little as 6 weeks! If you are on diabetes medication, work closely alongside your physician to tweek your dosage as you get great health benefits.
BONUS: Adding a pinch of cinnamon powder to the cumin water also helps!
- Ditch Dairy:
Read the below blog before we proceed further:
Be it through the process of molecular mimicry as mentioned in the above blog or saturated fats, chemicals, hormones and adulteration of the dairy industry, milk could be your biggest reason for diabetes.
Try almond milk instead of dairy milk and vegan cheese instead of dairy cheese.
I want to extend this to animal proteins coming in from meat also. It's unclear if its the saturated fats in meat, hema- iron, hormones or excess AGE products (or the combination of all of the above). But consumption of as little as fifty grams a meat per day is associated with an increase in 8% in the occurrence of diabetes (the more the consumption, the higher your chances for diabetes).
- Ditch oil's:
People with diabetes mostly also are susceptible to coronary artery diseases because their blood vessels are clogged with saturated fats coming in from dairy/ meat and oil's.
Any type of oil's (including coconut oil) is empty calories with no nutritional benefits which you can otherwise get from different food groups.
Avoid oil's or limit it to fortnight reward meals. Explore oil free cooking and you will be surprised by the variety you can cook.
If you are reading this and thinking that it is impossible for you to drop oil's from your diet. Then continue the oil's and don't complain about reversing diabetes.
I personally love cooking in a steamer, pressure cooker, air fryer and oven. Try dry roasting spices such as cumin seeds, mustard seeds, bay leaves, whole dried red chillies etc and add water once they release a beautiful aroma.
You can add other veggies at this time with powdered spices. Oil- free cooking does take a little bit longer, but its one necessary step you need to take towards healing yourself.
- Ditch- flour:
Switch to whole grains instead of refined flour's.
When you take a grain of wheat and make it into flour (maida), you are just retaining the starchy endosperm section marked in pink/ purple colour in the above picture.
The rest of the grain and all the properties of the grain are discarded. By refining or processing the grain further and further, its nutritional value diminishes but the sugar spike it causes in the body tends to increase.
Just switching from brown rice to white rice makes you 16% more susceptible to diabetes, when in fact, grains are suppose to anti- inflammatory and aids in healing from diabetes. Do not avoid grains altogether, they are healthy for you.
Switch your white roti/ rice to whole grains such as barley, ragi, foxtail millets, quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice. Avoid anything that is made into flour or polished such as bread's and white rice.
If you think about it, white rice by itself has little flavor. It takes up the flavor of whatever you are cooking it in. Try cooking brown rice and millets instead and eat the same with sabzi/ daal.
Especially ditch white bread/ maida/ cookies etc. Having bajra phulka's or ragi chappati is still fine.
You can make as many changes as you want in your nutrition and exercise program, but if you cannot handle emotional stress, the rest is pointless.
If you can relate with the picture below, then you are stressed:
When you are stressed, the body releases the 'fight or flight' hormone.
This hormone is literally responsible to release more blood sugar into your blood vessels to help you- well fight or flight. But there is nothing to fight or flight about in today's age and time.
In today's world, the fights are when you have deadlines to reach, loans to pay and relationships to handle?
There are multiple ways to manage stress, like, taking time out for yourself, picking up physical fitness, learn time and people management skills, try the tapping meditation technique.
You will have to work with an expert to see what style of relaxation works for you the most.
This expert could be anyone from a counsellor to a friend to a spiritual guru. Different things help different people. But find someone to help you individually.
Start by simple things atleast such as making a grocery list for the week, planning your menu in advance, automising monthly payments etc.
Best Indian foods for diabetics reversal.
Dr. Neal Barnard, pioneer in the field of diabetes reversal recommends the power plate.
Aim to fill your plate 1/2 raw with fruits and vegetables. The remaining plate should comprise of lentils/ pulses and grains. So daal and chawal or roti and sabzi. It is of-course advisable to keep your meals vegan or at least vegetarian.
Here are a few more essential food groups for diabetes management:
- Cruciferous vegetables (at least 100 grams per day).
- Essential fats coming in from chia/ flax and hemp seeds.
- Pseudo grams like millets/ quinoa/ oats and buckwheat.
- Citric fruits.
- Leafy greens (at least 60 grams per day).
A sample meal plan is given below that further describes the kind of food you must eat.
Pre-diabetes diet plan for Indian.
A lot of times concerned clients come to me with HbA1C levels that are borderline for diabetes. If you have a genetic history for diabetes, it is advisable to test yourself every year.
However, genetics do not define your health completely. Genetics only load the gun, but it is your lifestyle that really pulls the trigger.
Specific changes suggested for reversing pre- diabetes are similar to those prescribed to people with diabetes. That is, make small changes to switch to a plant- centric diet and bring in lifestyle changes to stay physically active.
At a pre- diabetic stage, using certain herbs and spices as medicine itself is enough to start seeing changes. For instance, include one Amla per day into the diet. This could be in the form of powdered amla, the juice of a fresh amla or even biting into the whole fruit.
Adding a tbsp of ground flaxseed powder daily to your routine will also make a huge difference. the soluble fiber in flaxseed helps clean up clogged blood vessels and maintain optimal blood glucose levels.
Besides this, switching to an almost vegan or even a vegetarian diet, loaded with legumes, pulses, whole grains and vegetables is a step int he right direction.
Indian Vegetarian Type-2 Diabetes Meal Plan.
A mostly vegan or vegetarian nutrition plan is most suited for diabetes reversal. Adopt the below weekly nutrition plan and aim to make lifestyle changes in the right direction.
While it is suggested to work with an expert to get a customised plan, this sample meal plan can help you get started:
There are so many other herbs like cinnamon, turmeric and bitter melon's that help combat diabetes.
What people with type 2 diabetes need to understand is that type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease and can be reversed with a little bit of planning and commitment.
I have discussed a lot of 'don't'. If you are not familiar with a whole food plant- based diet low in fat's, this might be confusing. Do not worry though, there are ample of recipes and options available for you to eat and throughly love what is on your plate.
You can alternatively of course reach out to me by filling in the consultation form below. Working alongside your physician, I would love to help you with lifestyle modifications specific to your requirements and start dropping your medications.
Fill up the form below if you want a customised diet plan and lifestyle changes for Type-2 diabetes reversal.
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I do free consultations every Tuesday's and Thursday's. Either way you will get some actionable tips to reach your fitness goals faster.