Diabetes is a fairly common condition that is affects many people around the world and the incidence is rising globally. To regulate blood glucose level, the pancreas produces insulin, which plays a role in blood sugar. So how to eat to control your blood sugar level? Keep reading.
Type 1 diabetes result from insulin deficiency caused by the autoimmune destruction of the cells in the pancreas. Whereas type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance and insufficient production of insulin to overcome it.
The good news is people with type 2 diabetes were able to reduce their blood glucose levels by an average of 25% just by following a simple eating plan. Here's how to eat to control your blood sugar level.
1. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Eating more fruits and vegetables is one of the most important answers for how to eat to control your blood sugar level. This is important because fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that help to keep your heart and eyes healthy. They are also rich in potassium, which helps to lower your blood pressure and contain dietary fiber, which is good for your digestive system.
However, fruit also contains natural sugars, so take care not to eat too much all at once. Fruit juice releases its sugar into the bloodstream very quickly, so it is preferable to eat whole fresh fruit instead.
You should eat at least five portions of vegetables and two of fruit each day. A portion is approximately 1 cup or the equivalent of your fist. Aim to eat a variety of vegetables and fruits in different colors.
2. Choose the Right Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are converted to glucose, which causes your blood glucose level to increase. The type and amount of carbohydrates you eat that determine the level to which it rises and the length of time it remains high.
Carbohydrates can be divided into starchy carbohydrates and sugars. Starchy carbohydrates include bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, noodles, and cereals. Sugars include sucrose (table sugar), lactose (sugar found in dairy foods), and fructose (sugar found in fruits). Starchy carbohydrates can be further divided into refined (white bread, white rice and products made with white flour) and unrefined (wholemeal bread and brown rice).
Unrefined is a better choice as they release energy more slowly and help keep blood glucose levels more even compared to refined carbohydrates, which release their energy more quickly and can cause a surge in blood glucose levels.
3. Choose Low Glycemic Index Diets
The glycemic index is a system that ranks carbohydrates according to how quickly they are converted to glucose in the body, and the extent to which they raise your blood glucose level after you’ve eaten them.
Food with high glycemic index (70 or above) are broken down very quickly and result in a rapid rise in blood glucose.
Low glycemix index foods (55 and below) are a better choice because they are absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream and result in a steadier and more controlled rise in your blood glucose level. Low GI diets also help reduce the risk of heart disease, help control appetite, delay hunger and help with weight management.
4. CHANGE BAD Fats to Good Fats
There are two main types of fats, saturated fats and unsaturated fats. There is also a further group called trans fats. A diet high in saturated and trans fats is unhealthy. These types of fats encourage the body to produce cholesterol, which can clog blood vessels and arteries and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Unsaturated fats are good fats and are further divides into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Monounsaturated fats help to reduce cholesterol and are found mainly in olive oil, canola oil, nuts and avocados.
Polyunsaturated fats can be further subdivided into omega-3 and omega-6 fats, which helps protect the heart by lowering blood pressure.
Omega-6 fats are found mainly in vegetables oils and margarine, such as sunflower, safflower, corn, and soybean oil.
Omega-3 fats are found in oil-rich fish such as salmon, fresh tuna, sardines, mackerel and plant sources (linseed and its oil, canola oil, soybean oil and walnuts).
Saturated fats should be limited and they are mainly found in dairy products like cheese, yogurt, milk, cream, ghee as well as fatty cuts of meat and meat products such as sausages and burgers. Saturated fats are also found in pastries, cakes, cookies, coconut oil, and palm oil.
Trans fats occur naturally in small amounts in meat and dairy products and are also produced during hydrogenation (a process that food manufactures use to convert vegetables oils into semi-solid fats).
5. Replace Salt
Salt is composed of sodium and chloride but sodium is the one that is dangerous to our health. You should always check the labels on products before buying.
Reducing our intake of sodium to no more than 6g of salt per day can reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack by 25%. Instead of using salt to make food tasty, use other ways to add flavour, such as herbs and spices.
If you are use to salty foods, your taste buds become less sensitive to it and you tend to add more salt in your next meal. Gradually reduce the amount of salt so that your taste buds will adapt and the salt receptors on your tongue will become sensitive again. Replace salt with cinnamon, mustard, horseradish, ginger, peppercorns, star anise, citrus zest, cardamom, nutmeg, chiles, caraway seeds or lemongrass.
6. Lower Your Sugar Intake
Lowering your sugar intake does not mean that you should avoid sugar entirely. It is the amount and the form of sugar you eat that determines the effect it has on your blood glucose level.
Diabetic people should avoid consuming foods with high amounts of natural sugar, such as fruit juice and dried fruits, as it releases sugar into the bloodstream very quickly, which causes a spike in your blood glucose level.
It is recommend to combined sugar with foods that are high in fibre, as this helps slow down the rate at which it is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Consider sugar alternatives to help you control your intake.