Diabetes is a medical disorder of maintaining high blood sugar levels over prolonged periods of time. If poorly controlled, diabetes can significantly increase morbidity and mortality. In addition to complications, like ketoacidosis that can be acutely dangerous or deadly, there are long-term complications such as heart attacks, strokes, peripheral vascular disease, blindness, neuropathy and infections (especially foot infections) to name a few.
Lifestyle Changes or Medication?
Type 2 diabetes is due to insulin resistance. The cells of the body have inadequate response to insulin. The most common cause of type 2 diabetes is obesity and inadequate exercise. For this reason, it is important to focus on diet when treating type 2 diabetes.
First and foremost, however, I want to stress that you need to take your medication as prescribed by your physician. Yes, it is true that many individuals may improve or completely cure their type 2 diabetes with weight loss, diet adjustment and exercise. Unfortunately, your body does not have time to wait for that to happen.
Each day your body is subjected to high levels of sugar in your blood stream, while you attempt lifestyle modification, is a day of serious damage to all of your bodily organs. Take the medication and if or when you lose that weight and adequately modify your lifestyle, you will see the sugars come down. Report this to your doctor and they will decrease or eliminate medication accordingly.
Keep in Mind
I cannot stress enough the importance of taking your prescribed medication, following a complete diabetic diet as instructed by your physician and/or dietician, keeping your physician appointments, and doing the necessary tests as instructed by your doctor. Only after doing all of this should you consider fine-tuning your diabetes management with the following foods that may be of benefit to you.
Also, people with diabetes are often on multiple medications that have restrictions (such as warfarin). In addition, many diabetics have coexisting disorders such as congestive heart failure, hypercholesterolemia, etc.
Restrictions due to the medications you take and diet instructions on your other disorders take precedence over the below suggested foods. Do not consume foods on the list that your physician has previously told you not to eat.
List of Helpful Foods
This being said, I would like to provide you with a list of 10 foods that help with lowering and maintaining blood sugar levels for type 2 diabetes.
Citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerines and grapefruit have a lot of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and folate which is good for your heart and colon. It is better to eat a whole fruit instead of drinking juice.
The whole fruit has less calories than juice and is less likely to spike your blood sugar. Citrus fruits are considered low glycemic fruits because they don’t increase your blood sugar as much as other fruits such as watermelon.
Green vegetables are low in carbohydrates and calories and are stock full of vitamins such as magnesium which helps your body’s insulin work properly. Most greens are pretty filling also which helps with weight loss. The glycemic index of green vegetables is usually so low that you can eat as much as you like without significantly increasing your blood sugar.
Meats do not have a glycemic index score because they have no carbohydrates. Fish with fatty acids may actually help manage diabetes. These fatty acids have also been shown to help with heart health and they protect the eyes from diabetic retinopathy.
Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries may enhance insulin sensitivity. Also, berries have a lot of vitamins, fiber and antioxidants.
Whole grain breads have a lower glycemic index than white bread. They are also higher in fiber and have better nutritious value.
Legumes are high in vitamins and fiber, and they don’t have any saturated fat. Be aware that they do have carbohydrates. So, work that into your carbohydrate counting diet.
Examples of legumes are lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas. Remember to avoid legume products that have added syrups, sauces, sugars or marinades. These added ingredients can significantly increase your blood sugar.
Nuts have healthy fats, and they are filled with fiber and protein. These also have lots of nutritious minerals and antioxidants. Again, you should avoid nuts with added ingredients, such as sugary coatings or flavorings.
Craving something sweet? Sweet potatoes are great for satisfying that diabetic sweet tooth. Sweet potatoes have lots of vitamin A and fiber. Other potatoes have a high glycemic index, but sweet potatoes’ glycemic index is low.
Milk and Yogurt
Dairy is a good source of calcium. It also has vitamin D which may help insulin work better. Pick low-fat or nonfat dairy products to reduce calorie and fat intake. Dairy does have carbohydrates. So, work that calculation into your diet.
Garlic may improve insulin sensitivity and secretion. So, add a little garlic flavor to your meals.
To best manage your type 2 diabetes, make sure you are under the care of a physician, take your prescribed medication, do the lab and other tests that are ordered, and follow diabetic diet as instructed by your physician and/or dietician.
Once you are doing all of this, consider the value of the above-mentioned foods in helping control your type 2 diabetes. See how supposedly small changes in your diet can alter your blood sugar and all-around health.
Do you have type 2 diabetes? Are you taking medications or only trying to incorporate healthier lifestyle changes? Do you regularly incorporate these foods into your diet? Have you noticed a difference in your blood sugar and energy levels when you eat these foods? Please share your thoughts.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor to get specific medical advice for your situation.