Lets continue with a discussion about Nutrition And Plant Foods
One of the most important elements in diabetes management is diet because it is food and eating practices that affect blood sugars the most. An unhealthy type 2 diabetes specific diet will lead to out of control blood sugar, which greatly increases risks for heart disease, stroke, neuropathy, retinopathy, kidney disease, and premature death.
Diet is of utmost importance to the overweight or obese. According to the Centers For Disease Control, even a 5% to 7% loss in bodyweight can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in the overweight. Thousands of people have reversed their type 2 diabetes with significant weight loss following bariatric surgery. For these reasons, a nutritionist can be the greatest asset in diabetes management.
Diabetes’ direct relationship to diet, food intake, and weight control naturally leads to the exploration of which plant foods best assist with managing the disease and controlling weight.
Diabetics experience the best outcomes with blood sugar control and maintaining a healthy weight when they eat a low glycemic index and high fiber diet, which includes lean meats and other natural protein sources (legumes, beans, nut butters, nuts, tofu, and tempeh), healthy whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Some plant foods do offer greater benefits for diabetes management than others do.
In general, caloric intake naturally drops with a plant-based diet. The way the body assimilates plant-based calories differs significantly from the way processed foods and meat dense meals are assimilated. More of the food goes toward immediate maintenance and energy. The higher fiber content of fruits and vegetables slows digestion and the flow of glucose into the bloodstream.
The complex carbohydrates of fruits, vegetables and grains must be broken down by the digestive system and less of the food converts to sugar which is stored as fat when not needed by the body. There is also less fat presented in meals with this type of diet; fat is quickly stored if the body does not need it immediately. This storage presents itself as weight gain when the intake outpaces the body’s needs.
The following plant foods provide many desirable benefits for type 2 diabetics. Plant foods generally contain higher fiber content which typically indicates a lower glycemic index; any sugars these plant foods may contain are released more slowly due to their high fiber content. They also contain significant amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which support metabolic function and treat the symptoms and conditions associated with diabetes.
Apples: When eaten with the skin, apples provide four grams of fiber making them filling and dampening their sugar’s impact on blood glucose levels. Wash them well if you are not able to pick up organic apples. They are on the Environmental Working Groups list of high pesticide exposure fruits and vegetables.
Avocados: The high monounsaturated fat content of avocados slows digestion and blood sugar release. A diet high in good fats may also help improve insulin sensitivity over time. Diabetics are also at a higher risk for heart disease, and regular intake of healthy fats promotes heart health.
Barley: As a high fiber whole grain, barley is absorbed more slowly by the body. Including it in meals can lower post dinner blood sugar levels up to 70%.
Beans: Beans bring both protein and fiber to meals, which keep post meal blood sugar levels steady. Pinto, kidney, and black beans are high in soluble and insoluble fiber and beans are a healthier fat protein than animal fats like beef.
Berries: Berries provide a sweet treat packed with fiber, which lessens their impact on blood sugar. Berries contain antioxidants, which prevent oxidative damage to tissues caused by diabetes. The darker colored blue and red berries also contain anthocyanins, which are believed to boost insulin production.
Broccoli: This vegetable is a nutrient powerhouse containing a days’ worth of Vitamin C, other antioxidants, chromium, and fiber. It supports overall health and the chromium supports long-term blood sugar management. This green vegetable, like others is very low in calories and can be enjoyed in abundance.
Carrots: A high beta-carotene content and low sugar levels make this a go to vegetable for people managing diabetes. Beta-carotene is linked to lower diabetes risk and improved blood sugar control.
Nuts and seeds: Rich in protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fats, nuts and seeds are filling, digest slowly, and have a low impact on blood sugar levels.
Oatmeal: Whole oats, steel cut varieties are best, are complete whole grains, which slow the digestion process and the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream.
Olive Oil: Olive oil provides anti-inflammatory nutrients. It is a heart healthy oil, a critical consideration for diabetics. Olive oil also contains oleic acid that may help reverse insulin resistance.
Kale and Leafy Greens: Greens are some of the most beneficial plant foods that contain important antioxidants along with fiber and potassium. They are so low in calories that they can be eaten in abundance for effective weight management. Spinach, Kale, collard greens, and Swiss chard are all excellent additions to a type 2 diabetes friendly diet.
These plant foods provide high nutritional value. Notice, none of the foods mentioned here are exotic or difficult to obtain. They can be prepared in a number of ways to add to variety to the diet and replace other unhealthy food choices.
Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients that the body requires for specific functions, one of the most common of which is co-enzyme and co-factor metabolic reactions that support basic cellular reactions.
Micronutrients have been studied as potential treatments for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and their associated complications.
Natural dietary supplements are derived from whole foods or components of the same. They are used to prevent or treat disease and may be referred to as nutraceuticals.
In general, the best way for the body to assimilate and use antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and the effective components of functional foods is through the consumption of whole food sources. However, supplementation becomes the preferred method when using them therapeutically. This allows the appropriate dosage, based on clinical evidence, to be administered to patients in order to obtain the desired results.
Vitamins And Minerals For The Treatment Of Diabetes
One of the main reasons that nutritional support is crucial in diabetes treatment is that it is a nutritionally wasting disease. People who have diabetes, especially those who do not follow a nutrient rich diet, tend to be deficient in both fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins because elevated glucose levels act like a diuretic, which cause a substantial loss of nutrients in the urine. Another reason that proper nutrient intake is important is that it supports the body’s ability to use insulin and that keeps blood sugars stable and at healthy levels.
Those with diabetes are encouraged to obtain their nutrients from food, which means a balanced diet that includes a lot of vegetables, lean protein, some fruit and grains and nonfat dairy.
When the diet is deficient in essential nutrients, supplementation can help. A doctor or nutritionist can assess the needs for supplements on a patient-by-patient basis.
Specific Vitamins And Minerals For Diabetics
Some vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants have been shown to be therapeutic in the treatment of type 2 diabetes and its associated conditions, as documented by the National Center for Biotechnology Information a division of the National Institute of Health.
Biotin: The body requires biotin, a B vitamin to process glucose. According to the National Institutes Of Health, some evidence exists that a combination of biotin and chromium may lower blood sugar in people whose blood sugar is poorly controlled by prescription medicines. It may also relieve diabetes related nerve pain.
Chromium: Chromium increases insulin sensitivity, which increases glucose tolerance. The effects of chromium on glycemic control, dyslipidemia, body composition, weight management, and bone density are well documented in several experimental and epidemiological studies and sufficient evidence exists that chromium levels play a role in insulin sensitivity as a cofactor in all insulin regulating activities.
Chromium facilitates the binding of insulin and the subsequent uptake of glucose into the cell, therefore chromium supplementation can be effective in decreasing fasting glucose levels, improving glucose tolerance, and lowering insulin levels. It is also believed to be effective in decreasing the bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing good HDL cholesterol in all adults and in type 2 diabetes patients. However, not all researchers believe that chromium is useful for just anyone with diabetes, but may only apply to those with poor nutrition levels or those who suffer from a deficiency, something not uncommon in people with diabetes.
Inositol: Inositol promotes healthy nerve function and is a promising option to treat diabetic neuropathy.
L-Carnitine: Diabetics suffer from fatigue and this amino acid allows the body to utilize fat more efficiently.
Magnesium: Magnesium is a mineral and an essential cofactor for more than 300 enzymes. Magnesium deficiency is the most common type of micronutrient deficiency found in diabetes. Some studies have found that low dietary magnesium intake has been associated with increased incidence of type 2 diabetes and with diabetic retinopathy. One study in particular found that those patients with the most severe retinopathy also had the lowest magnesium counts.
Magnesium can be obtained naturally from dark leafy greens, fish, nuts, fish, whole grains, yogurt, dark chocolate, seeds, and beans, and all these foods are part of a well-balanced diet.
Vitamin B1: B1 is used to treat diabetic neuropathy in combination with vitamins B6 and B12.
Vitamin B3: Vitamin B3 occurs in two forms, nicotinamide and nicotinic. Both play significant roles in the functions of hundreds of enzymes, and in the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins. The effects of vitamin B3 nicotinamide supplementation has been studied in type 2 diabetes treatment, and some evidence exists that it is most effective in newly diagnosed diabetes patients, though most studies support the use of B3 supplementation to preserve B-cell function rather than for diabetes prevention.
Antioxidants are substances, which prevent cellular damage. They occur naturally in plant foods, some herbs, and even spices. However, the quantity of these items a person would need to consume to receive significant benefits exceed what most people need to consume during a day. Due to their sensitivity to light and air, antioxidant supplements provide a viable way to add these nutrients to a treatment regimen. Oxidation seems to be related to the development of a diabetes related condition known as diabetic retinopathy, which causes damage to the nerves of the eye. Antioxidants may be used as a preventative treatment for oxidative stress related conditions in type 2 diabetics.
Vitamins A, C, and E are vitamins that function primarily as antioxidants. Low levels of these vitamins and specifically vitamin E have been associated with increased incidence of diabetes. Research has shown that diabetics have decreased levels of antioxidants, and they often need them the most since they have increased free radical production due to hyperglycemia. This increase in oxidative stress markers requires improvement in glycemic control and vitamin supplementation to decrease such markers.
One study (Desai N K et al, NJIRM 2013) that’s goal was to demonstrate the increase in oxidative stress in newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes cases by measuring antioxidant enzymes activities found that the use of vitamin C and vitamin E supplementation in addition to an oral hypoglycemic agent reduced oxidative stress.
Alpha Lipoic Acid is an antioxidant that is made into medicine and is often used to treat pain and numbness in the legs and arms for those with diabetic neuropathy. This antioxidant is naturally found in foods, including spinach, liver, kidneys, and potatoes. Some early studies have shown that ALA may be useful in lowering insulin resistance, though the evidence is limited.
Coenzyme Q10 is a nutrient that diabetics tend to be deficient in and one that is required to properly metabolize blood sugar. Supplementation may support this key function.
Functional foods are whole foods or components of whole foods, which also serve medicinal purposes. Some are common knowledge like fish oil and psyllium. They work with the body’s natural functions and rarely have side effects.
Evening Primrose Oil contains gamma-lipoic acid (GLA), an antioxidant that in some studies has shown promise to treat diabetic neuropathy and to relieve associated pain.
Glucomannan is a fiber derived from konjac root. It slows digestion, which offsets elevated blood sugar levels following meals.
Psyllium is a soluble fiber and is key to the health of blood sugars in type 2 diabetes. Soluble fiber binds moisture in the digestive system into a soft gel and delays the absorption of nutrients into the body and therefore slows the rise of blood sugars after a meal.
Garlic is known to lower blood sugar levels and increase the amount of free insulin in the blood stream. Additionally, fresh raw garlic releases a short-lived gas called hydrogen sulfide that promotes heart health, a special concern for diabetics who are at a high risk for heart disease. Cooking and drying of this spice eliminates this useful nutrient, so eating the garlic raw and fresh is the best option.
Consult An Expert
Many diabetics do not realize the importance of supplementation as part of their regimen to manage or reverse the effects of diabetes. Since diabetes effects on the kidneys depletes the body of necessary nutrients for normal function as well as the treatment of the disease, type 2 diabetics can see significant improvements in their condition through supplementation. Natural dietary supplements most often provide the best support, because they most resemble actual food sources.
Most supplements need to be taken with a meal in order to be most effective. For example, a healthy meal incorporates both fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins, which allows the vitamins’ absorption rate to be maximized.
It is best to consult a physician or nutritionist to assess whether supplementation or nutraceutical therapy is required or maybe useful in a particular case of diabetes.