3 Ways to Manage Diabetes through Diet
A nutritious diet can help people with diabetes keep blood-glucose levels in check. Follow these healthy eating strategies to feel your best.
Nutritious Eating for People with Diabetes
For people with diabetes, good nutrition is medicine in its own right. Blood-glucose levels-which are directly affected by the sugars and starches we consume-must be monitored rigorously. As a result, meals are often planned using strategies like carb counting (aiming for a certain number of carbohydrates per sitting) or “the plate method” (dividing your plate at a given meal into set proportions for each food group). Here are some additional ideas for managing diabetes through diet.
1. Increase your intake of soluble fibre
Fibre-the soluble type, particularly-is your ally, whether you have diabetes or are concerned about developing it in the future. “At nearly every step of the digestive process, it reduces the speed at which your body metabolizes carbohydrates into glucose,” says Isabelle Zanella of Diabetes Biel-Bienne, a diabetes support organization in Biel, Switzerland. This is helpful because you don’t want glucose to suddenly flood into your bloodstream; you want it to trickle in slowly and steadily. Foods that are rich in soluble fibre include legumes, oats, avocados, sweet potatoes and oranges. If you’re not used to eating much fibre, increase your intake gradually and drink extra water to prevent gas, cramps and bloating.
2. Drink plenty of water
Fluids are essential for diabetes sufferers, who are at a higher risk of dehydration (when blood-glucose levels are high, the kidneys try to clear out extra sugar via urine). But avoid sweet ones that will cause your blood sugar to spike, including non-diet pop, sweetened fruit drinks and energy and sports drinks. Ideally, even non-diabetics should ingest these beverages sparingly, since regular consumption has been linked with an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
3. Slash your sodium intake
Diabetes also comes with an elevated risk of stroke and heart disease. To help compensate, it’s useful to reduce your sodium intake. Most of the salt in a typical Western diet comes from processed foods, so eat fresh items whenever you can, look for low-sodium or salt-free frozen products and rinse the brine off of canned goods.
There’s no need to follow a special diet-planning for diabetes boils down to eating in a sensible way that would make just about anyone feel their best.