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Diabetes is no joke. It can affect our life’s quality extensively, if not managed properly through right lifestyle and food changes. While for those suffering from diabetes, the broader eating and lifestyle rules like maintaining an optimum weight, sleeping well, doing regular exercise etc all apply. What they eat on a daily basis is a prime factor to help keep this dreaded disorder in check, and blood sugar stable.
Of course, no single food can help keep diabetes in check. But some foods do offer more protection than others, so eating blood sugar-stabilising meals, consisting of science-backed foods is a sensible approach to follow for all diabetics. This is a simple and foolproof way to try and keep a check on blood sugar levels in an age where this dreaded disorder has become as common as common cold.
According to a WHO report, diabetes is a growing challenge in India with an estimated 8.7% diabetic population in the age group of 20 and 70 years. So here we are talking about a huge number of people in the county, who can gain by eating right. Plus the numbers are increasing at breakneck speed and an increasing number of people are becoming a part of this list.
The plan is simple: focus should be on getting the macronutrients (protein, fats, fibre, and carbohydrates) profile of your meals right.
Protein has a huge say in better management of diabetes. In addition to helping the body grow, protein can also be broken down by the body into glucose and used for energy. But it is broken down into glucose less efficiently than the carbohydrates, it does not shoot up our blood sugar levels. And this is a very important factor for all diabetics to consider. That is why they must eat enough protein by design.
Evenly spread its intake over the day across breakfast, lunch and dinner. This stimulates muscle protein synthesis (MPS) more effectively than eating the majority of daily protein at any one meal or say during just the evening meal (like many people do). So, ideally eat the protein at 3-4 meals spread throughout the day: e.g. breakfast, lunch, post-workout, dinner, and pre-sleep.
It is important to choose the protein carefully and proactively to ensure good quality. For diabetics, eating fish and egg yolk have been shown to be helpful. Fish is rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a special type of omega 3 fatty acid which is the key to reducing inflammation in our body, and thus, helps lower risk of diabetes side-effects big time. Its small amounts are found in egg yolks too. Algae and seaweeds are the only vegetarian sources.
If for some reason if a diabetic is unable to meet the protein needs, they can include a good quality protein supplement with 8-10 grams of protein per serve that is trustworthy. No point in loading the body with supplements that give excessive protein per serve, as they will only load up your body organs without giving any additional benefit.
For diabetics, grain rotation is the key, and oats and barley top the list here. Oatmeal contains high amounts of magnesium, which helps the body use glucose and secrete insulin properly. Barley can prove to be a great protector for diabetics, as it is rich in soluble fibre and has the ability to form a gel when it mixes with liquids in the stomach. This slows down the emptying of the stomach, which prevents carbohydrates from being absorbed too quickly and raising blood glucose levels.
Cooking in the right oils is important. It helps to juggle between butter, ghee, mustard oil, sesame and groundnut oil for cooking different meals. They must prefer cold pressed oils and keep intake of refined oils as low as possible. Olive oil is a good bet too, thanks to the antioxidant tyrosol in it. Besides lowering the “bad” low-density lipoproteins (LDL), it helps improve blood sugar control and thus enhances insulin sensitivity in diabetics.
They can score good fats from the nuts too. Walnuts in particular are very good as they contain the polyunsaturated fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fat which helps lower inflammation. The L-arginine, fibre, vitamin E, and other phytochemicals found in this nut also makes it a potent diabetes fighter.
Plus, they can incorporate seeds like flax seeds and pumpkin seeds as both help prevent insulin resistance.
Another simple change that can bring about a huge dip in the blood sugar levels is boosting our fibre intake consciously. It slows digestion (forms a gel-like combination along with water in the stomach, which slackens the rate at which foods are emptied from the abdomen), and when you slow digestion, you slow the delivery of glucose (blood sugar) to the bloodstream.
The easiest and the most practical way is to eat more fruits and vegetables. Fix times like say an apple after breakfast, and a plateful of papaya in the evening or a couple of oranges, and a plateful of sautéed vegetables with dinner, will majorly help them.
Make your diabetes-fighting thali has them all!