Diabetes is a chronic lifestyle disorder. The probability of developing it not only depends on genetic factors but is also influenced by environmental components.
Eating right and maintaining a healthy body weight is the most important step towards controlling diabetes. Losing 5-10% of total body weight can be instrumental in reducing blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
A diabetic should have a diet that is low in carbohydrates and calories, moderate in healthy fats and naturally rich in nutrients with key food elements being whole grains, vegetables and foods with low GI.
Include high fiber content and slow calorie-burning carbohydrates in your diet. Besides micro and macro nutrient content, glycemic index of food is also important when choosing a diet friendly for diabetes patients. Glycemic index is a measure of how quickly blood sugar levels rise. Low glycemic index foods are good for diabetics.
Keeping a tab on your food habits and to control diabetes does not necessarily mean that you need to live in deprivation. Only some adjustments and moderation in food intake is required.
This World Diabetes Day, here’s a list of 10 superfoods that can help you effectively fight the disease:
1. Vegetables with low starch content
Low-starch vegetables like broccoli, beet and asparagus can provide a good satisfying meal option while being low on the carbohydrate content. These also contain a good amount of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients.
2. Low or no fat dairy products
Low fat dairy products such as skimmed milk and yogurt have low glycemic index. They provide essential amounts of vitamin D which is known to regulate glucose levels. These products also have low calorie content per serving which make them ideally suited for weight loss.
Tomatoes are naturally rich in lycopene, which is known to promote cardiovascular health, and reduce blood pressure and heart complications associated with diabetes.
Nuts are a good and delicious way to control diabetes. They are rich in fiber content and have low amounts of digestible carbohydrates. Essential oils and overall nutrient content of nuts is known to reduce diabetic inflammation, blood sugar, and HbA1c and LDL levels.
Flaxseed or ‘san ka beej’ is rich in an insoluble fiber called lignan, which is known to reduce diabetes associated heart complications, the risk of strokes and blood sugar levels. Flaxseeds are also good for improving gut health and insulin sensitivity.
Garlic is a health superfood. It is traditionally famous for reducing blood pressure. Studies have shown its ability to reduce inflammation, blood glucose and LDL or bad cholesterol in people having type 2 diabetes.
7. Fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids
Nutrient-rich fish including salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel are loaded with omega 3 fatty acids and have no carbohydrate content. They are also dense in selenium and vitamin D content, which is essential for healthy metabolism. These foods help in controlling digestion and make for a full meal without being big on calories. They are hence ideal for BMI control.
8. Whole grains
Whole grains like barley and lentils are full of antioxidants and fiber content. These help in reducing the belly bulge and keep the digestive system healthy. They are also known to reduce LDL cholesterol and stabilise blood sugar levels while being excellent sources of vitamin B, iron and protein.
9. Brown rice
It is low in glycemic content and high in fiber, both soluble and insoluble. It is an excellent source of fortified nutrients. Cutting back on regular rice and including brown rice can significantly stabilise blood glucose and blood pressure levels.
Curcumin is the active ingredient found in turmeric which is instrumental in reducing blood sugar levels. It protects against a number of heart diseases and is known to prevent diabetes-associated kidney diseases.
Poor lifestyle choices can seriously increase the severity of the disease in diabetics and put them at a risk of several other disorders. Opting for diabetes-friendly food options that can keep inflammation and blood glucose levels in check, can dramatically improve health and reduce complications.
Make sure you supplement your diet with optimal physical activity every day. Cut down on alcohol and curb smoking to avail the full potential of a healthy diet.
Lalitha Subramanyam, is the chief nutritionist at Grow Fit, a health and wellness app.