Beat diabetes with diet

By Sadaf Jabeen
Tue, 10, 16

Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. This is because your pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin, or not enough insulin, to help glucose enter your body’s cells.


Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. This is because your pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin, or not enough insulin, to help glucose enter your body’s cells. Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas that allows glucose to enter the body’s cells, where it is used as fuel for energy so we can work, play and generally live our lives. It is vital for life.

While there is currently no cure for diabetes, you can live an enjoyable life by learning about the condition and effectively managing it. There are two main types of diabetes:  Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 diabetes is where the cells in the body that typically produce insulin have been destroyed, leaving the body unable to produce the key hormone. Type 1 diabetes is far less common. It is treated with daily insulin injections or an insulin pump. This form of the disease typically occurs in childhood, or before the age of 40 and is not linked to obesity.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. About 95 per cent of people with diabetes have type 2. It develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body are unable to produce enough insulin or the insulin is there but not working properly.

Diabetes can be managed well but the potential complications are the same for type 1 and type 2 diabetes including heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, limb amputation, depression, anxiety and blindness.

Some common symptoms

The common signs you may have diabetes include:

  • going to the toilet a lot, especially at night
  • being really thirsty
  • feeling more tired than usual
  • losing weight, without trying to
  • genital itching or thrush
  • cuts and wounds that take longer to heal
  • blurred vision

Foods that help control diabetes

Diet is an important tool to keep your heart healthy and blood sugar levels within a safe and healthy range. It doesn’t have to be complicated or unpleasant. It boils down to a few key actions:

  • Eat meals and snacks on schedule.
  • Choose a variety of foods that are high in nutrition and low in empty calories.
  • Be careful not to overeat.
  • Read food labels closely.

Foods to choose

  • Yoghurt: Low-fat yoghurt naturally contains both high-quality carbohydrates and protein, making it an excellent food for slowing or preventing an unhealthy rise in blood sugar. Studies also show that a diet high in calcium from yoghurt and other calcium-rich foods is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a delicious spice with potent antioxidant activity. Cinnamon is effective in reducing blood sugar and lowering the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. 

Many studies show that consumption of one teaspoon cinnamon (2.5 g) to three teaspoons a day has a positive effect on reducing blood glucose levels.

Garlic: Garlic is a flavourful herb with impressive health benefits. It has been used for years to lower cholesterol levels but it also shows promise for lowering blood sugar. One clove of raw garlic contains only 4 calories and 1 gram of carbs. Garlic helps lower blood sugar, inflammation, LDL cholesterol and blood pressure in people with diabetes.

Apple cider vinegar: Although apple cider vinegar is made from apples, the sugar in the fruit is fermented into acetic acid, and the resulting product contains less than 1 gram of carbs per tablespoon. Apple cider vinegar has shown to improve insulin sensitivity and lower fasting blood sugar levels.

Fatty Fish: It is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies and mackerel are great sources of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which have major benefits for heart health. Getting enough of these fats on a regular basis is especially important for diabetics, who have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Leafy Greens: Leafy green vegetables are extremely nutritious and low in calories. Spinach, kale and other leafy greens are good sources of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C. In one study, increasing vitamin C intake reduced inflammatory markers and fasting blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.

Egg Whites: Rich in high-quality lean protein and low in carbs, egg whites are another healthy choice for controlling or preventing type 2 diabetes. One large egg white contains about 16 calories and 4 g of high-quality, filling protein, making egg whites a perfect food for blood sugar control, not to mention weight-loss or maintenance.

Turmeric: Turmeric is a spice with powerful health benefits. Its active ingredient, curcumin, can lower inflammation and blood sugar levels, while reducing heart disease risk. What’s more, curcumin appears to benefit kidney health in diabetics. This is important, as diabetes is one of the leading causes of kidney disease.

Nuts: Nuts are delicious and nutritious. All types of nuts contain fibre and are low in digestible carbs. Nuts are a healthy addition to a diabetic diet. They’re low in digestible carbs and help reduce blood sugar, insulin and LDL levels.

Beans: Since beans are high in fibre, they help you feel full, steady blood sugar, and even lower cholesterol. Moreover, they are said to burn body fat since they contain calcium. Make a bean and sprout salad or have them in your soup.

Strawberry: Strawberries are one of the most nutritious fruits you can eat. They’re high in antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which have been shown to reduce cholesterol and insulin levels after a meal. They also improve blood sugar and heart disease risk factors in type 2 diabetes.

Dates: This brown and sticky fruit not only has a sweet taste but is rich in fibre, making it a diabetes-friendly snack. According to a study, they are richer in antioxidants as compared to a serving of grapes, oranges, broccoli and peppers. Have raw dates or stuff them with walnuts.

Oatmeal: Studies have shown that eating a diet rich in whole grains and high-fibre foods may reduce the risk of diabetes by between 35 and 42 per cent. An excellent source of both is heart-healthy oatmeal: It’s packed with soluble fibre, which slows the absorption of glucose from food in the stomach - keeping blood-sugar levels under control.

Olive oil: Olive Oil lacks carbohydrates, and therefore does not raise blood sugar levels. In addition, it slows the absorption of foods eaten along with the oil. Olive oil is rich Omega 9 and Omega 3 which help maintain the flexibility of blood vessels, allowing good blood flow. Also oil does not increase insulin levels, thus reducing the non-insulin tolerance that exists in many people and causes an increase in blood sugar levels.

Pulses: Legumes such as lentils, peas, beans and chickpeas are low in fat and calories and also rich in fibre and protein. Dietary fibre slows the rate of sugar absorption into the blood and reduces the glycemic load. They are a great addition to soups, salads and a variety of other dishes.

Green tea: Green tea contains the antioxidant EGCG, which helps to maintain the flexibility of blood vessels and stabilizing blood glucose levels. A recent study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania found that this element reduces blood sugar levels and prevents its sharp rise after a meal consisting mainly carbohydrates.

Foods to avoid

There are certain foods that you should limit or avoid entirely. These include:

  • foods heavy in saturated fats
  • foods heavy in trans fats
  • beef
  • processed meats
  • shellfish
  • organ meats, such as beef or liver
  • stick margarine
  • shortening
  • baked goods
  • processed snacks
  • sugary drinks
  • high-fat dairy products
  • salty foods
  • fried foods