THE DIABETIC’S DIET: WHAT TO EAT AND WHAT TO AVOID

Diabetes is one of those diseases that we can define as chronic, that is, with a long course over time. What sets it apart are the altered (often elevated) levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood, due to a dysfunction in insulin regulation. Along with physical activity, nutrition is essential in the prevention and treatment of type of diabetes. It aims not only to improve glycemic control, but also to reduce the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.

The ideal diet for the prevention and treatment of people with diabetes consists of a diet rich in fiber (such as vegetables, fruit, unrefined cereals) and low in animal fats. Whole grains, fruits, legumes and vegetables are preferred among carbohydrate sources.

As also pointed out by the Diabetes Research Foundation, the Mediterranean diet, which is based on the intake of foods rich in fiber, coming from unrefined vegetables, fruits and cereals and low in fats of animal origin, has been studied for a long time and has demonstrated the its beneficial effects on both diabetes control and cardiovascular risk.

What to eat when you have diabetes

The recommended diet for people with diabetes is an adequate diet to restore or maintain blood sugar balance. The ideal diet of the diabetic is not as complex or restrictive as one might think: in most cases, rather than being distorted, it must be adapted to the disease (it must therefore be personalized  ). Some foods should be consumed in moderation, but the diabetic can still choose from a wide variety of healthy alternatives. So let’s see what they are!

The Italian Diabetes Society recommends consuming fruit and vegetables as much as possible or at least five times a day.

What fruit can you eat with diabetes?

The consumption of apples, pears and blueberries makes it less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. This is confirmed by a study conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health. A previous study had already suggested that a greater intake of flavonoids through the diet was beneficial to health and reduced the risk of hypertension .

Like apples and blueberries, grapes also have something more: compared to other fruits, they contain more anthocyanins and polyphenols, antioxidants that seem capable of assisting glycemic control.

Avocados, mandarins, bananas, grapes, figs, pomegranates, persimmons should be avoided.

As for dried fruit , scientific evidence shows that eating pistachios is an effective weapon against diabetes. This type of dried fruit has “good” fats that are very useful especially in the phase preceding the actual development of the disease. To avoid for the high percentage of carbohydrates is the other dried fruit and in particular: dried fruit (pine nuts, chestnuts, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, dates, etc.).

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What vegetables can you eat with diabetes?

As for vegetables, it is recommended to limit especially potatoes and other tubers (such as beets, cassava). For vegetables with a medium-high glycemic index, but rich in fiber and with a low glycemic load – carrots for example – a certain freedom of consumption is generally allowed as long as you do not overdo it with quantity and frequency.

A natural molecule useful for the control of diabetes is contained in broccoli or sulforaphane, belonging to the family of isothiocyanates: a study published in “Science translational medicine” confirms that this substance inhibits the production of glucose thus keeping blood sugar under control . The effect of sulforaphane can be compared to that of metformin, a drug used for diabetes that has recurring side effects.

Pumpkin is also a powerful ally against diabetes. Low in sugar and rich in vitamins and minerals, pumpkin is one of the most effective foods to control sugar metabolism, and therefore to regulate blood sugar levels and rebalance body weight.

Can people with diabetes eat legumes?

Legumes are very useful for lowering blood sugar. However, given that they have arather high content of uric acid  (especially green peas), if hyperuricemia is added to the high blood sugar, it is advisable to eat only one food rich in uric acid a day. In other words, you may want to eliminate meat from the menu on the days you eat legumes, since meat also contains a lot of purines that produce uric acid. In themselves, legumes are a good source of protein, B vitamins and iron, making them an excellent substitute for meat. Therefore, if you eat legumes instead of meat, and not in addition, you can safely consume, despite hyperuricemia, a portion of 50 g.

Lentils, peas, beans and chickpeas, in general, are foods of fundamental importance in a healthy diet to fight diabetes, obesity, cancer and coronary heart disease.

According to a study conducted as part of the PREDIMED project (“Prevention with the Mediterranean diet”) by the Human Nutrition Unit of the Rovira i Virgilii University in Reus, Spain, later published in the journal Clinical Nutrition, the consumption of legumes is associated, among other things, precisely at a lower risk of developing type two diabetes mellitus. Three weekly servings of these foods would reduce the risk of developing this condition by 35%. In this sense, lentils would be particularly suitable.

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Other foods recommended to prevent and control diabetes

Even chocolate and tea, being rich in flavonoids like some fruits, protect against type 2 diabetes.

Among the foods that are good for diabetic patients there are sesame seeds which, in addition to having numerous beneficial properties for health, are able to regulate blood levels of triglycerides and cholesterol.

Do people need to cut out carbohydrates altogether ? The answer is no. Rather than avoiding carbohydrates, it is necessary to prefer foods rich in fiber or with a low glycemic index (such as pasta and parboiled rice): these foods not only do not increase the risk of diabetes but reduce it.

Among the natural remedies for diabetes there are also oregano and rosemary: thanks to their content of polyphenols and flavonoids, these spices are able to inhibit some enzymes that play a key role in insulin secretion. Among the different types of spices, commercial extracts of Greek oregano, Mexican oregano and rosemary have proven to be the best inhibitors of the enzyme linked to diabetes.

To contain the spikes in blood sugar after meals, olive oil is also very useful , an ideal food, moreover, even for those who do not have diabetes, since it helps to combat those cardiovascular risk factors common in most people over the age of middle age and now increasingly common even in young adults.

What to eat for breakfast to prevent or control diabetes

An ideal breakfast food is yoghurt. According to a study by the University of Cambridge, in fact, the consumption of yogurt is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes. The amount of yogurt consumed to obtain this benefit was estimated at an average of four and a half jars from 125 g per week. The same study also considered fresh fermented low-fat cheeses; also in this case a preventive role against diabetes was found.

Can a diabetic drink coffee?

According to a study by INRAN (National Institute for Research on Food and Nutrition), a food associated with the prevention of diabetes risk and blood sugar control is coffee, particularly after a meal. The phenolic substances contained within it would in fact act in a similar way to some anti-diabetic drugs, such as acarbose, capable of inhibiting some enzymes (alpha-glucosidases) involved in the digestion of carbohydrates. This action could cause a slowdown in glucose absorption and attenuate the glycemic peak that occurs at the end of a meal, contributing to the reduction of the risk of type 2 diabetes.

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What not to eat with diabetes

Diabetes sufferers should respect some recommendations that are the same as those suggested to the healthy population to reduce the risk of developing diabetes and many other diseases, such as cardiovascular and some cancers.

So what to avoid? To prevent even dangerous complications from diabetes it is recommended to limit the amount of salt in the diet. In fact, according to a study conducted by a group of researchers from the University of Niigata, Japan, people with type 2 diabetes who follow a high salt diet are twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease.

Ready-made foods should also be avoided. In this case, according to research from the University of Tasmania (Australia) published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the main dangers would be for women. As emerged from the study, in fact, women who routinely eat out two or more times a week have higher blood sugar levels and greater circulation of insulin in the blood, a sign of a risky condition – resistance to the hormone that controls sugar. for the development of diabetes.

More generally, in order to control blood sugar, body weight and lipidemia, the following should be avoided:

  • sugar, honey and refined confectionery products with a high carbohydrate and lipid content (for example biscuits, snacks, snacks, ice cream, prepackaged sweets, croissants, pastries);
  • fruit juices and sugary drinks in general.
  • all refined foods (flour and white pasta, bread, breadsticks, white sugars, aspartame, fructose)
  • elaborate first courses prepared with fatty condiments (such as lasagna, cannelloni, risotto etc.);
  • elaborate pizzas and bread substitutes with added fat and salt ( bread sticks, crackers, oil sandwiches, focaccia).
  • limit the consumption of alcoholic beverages such as wine or beer to one glass per day for women and 2 for men (preferably with meals)
  • Also eliminate margarines, hydrogenated fats and all vegetable oils that are hot produced. It is recommended to choose only oils (extra virgin olive oil, flax, hemp) of first cold pressing that come from organic or biodynamic agriculture.

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