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Diabetes diet: 6 diets to manage blood sugar levels

Managing diabetes includes more than just eating at regular intervals. Prioritising healthy eating is vital. Here are 6 nutritious diets for diabetes that can help manage blood sugar levels.

Managing diabetes requires a comprehensive approach, with diet playing a crucial role. A healthy diet helps regulate blood sugar levels, maintain a healthy weight, and prevent complications associated with unbalanced blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, your diet should be high in fibre, low in unhealthy fats, and rich in essential vitamins and minerals. By focusing on whole, minimally processed foods, you can have better control over your blood glucose levels. Gear up as we bring you some expert-recommended healthy diets for diabetes!

Best diets for diabetes

Here are 6 healthy diet plans that people with diabetes can follow to manage sudden spikes in their blood sugar levels:

1. Mediterranean diet

Renowned for its heart-healthy benefits, the Mediterranean diet is packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Since it is rich in fibre and antioxidants, it helps regulate blood sugar levels and promote heart health, making it ideal for diabetes management. It focuses on foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains such as quinoa, barley, and whole wheat, healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, and seeds, and lean proteins such as fish, poultry, and legumes. These foods can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation, making it an excellent choice for diabetes management.

2. Low-carbohydrate diet

By reducing the intake of high carbohydrate foods like bread, pasta, and sugary snacks, you can effectively regulate blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. A study published by Frontiers in Nutrition finds that a low carbohydrate diet can stabilise glucose levels, managing diabetes. This diet includes foods such as:

  • Non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, and peppers
  • High-protein foods such as eggs, lean meats, and tofu
  • Healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil
Carbohydrates
A high-carb diet may raise sugar levels. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. DASH diet

Unlike fad diets that are hard to maintain, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is easy to start and follow. Originally designed to combat high blood pressure, this can also benefit those with diabetes. Since people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing hypertension than people without diabetes, this diet can be very beneficial, finds a study published by the American Diabetes Association. Its focus is on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins that help regulate blood sugar levels and promote heart health.

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Make sure you limit salt (sodium intake), and processed foods. Instead add potassium, calcium, and magnesium-rich foods to maintain heart health and reduce sugar from your diet.

Also read: 7 diet mistakes you should avoid to keep diabetes at bay!

4. Plant-based diet

A plant-based diet emphasises foods derived from plants while minimising or eliminating animal products. This diet includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains (such as brown rice, oats, and whole-wheat products), and legumes and nuts (such as beans, lentils, and nuts). These foods may support steady blood sugar levels and offer essential nutrients such as protein and healthy fats.

A study published in the Journal of Geriatric Cardiology found that a plant-based diet can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. This diet is also known to promote heart health, aid in weight loss and improve gut health.

5. Paleo diet

The paleo diet, also known as the paleolithic diet, focuses on foods presumed to have been available to our ancestors. While it is not clear what our ancestors consumed across the globe, it is believed that whole foods made up the majority of this diet. It includes:

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  • Lean meats and fish, which are high in protein and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Fruits such as bananas, avocados, and berries.
  • Vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, kale, peppers, and tomatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre.
  • Nuts and seeds that provide healthy fats and protein.
Paleo diet
Paleo diet can help in managing diabetes. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

This diet does not include processed foods, sugars, and grains, which can make it tough to manage blood sugar levels. Compared to other diets, the paleo diet resulted in lowering the risk of sudden blood pressure, weight gain, and high blood sugar levels, according to a study published by the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology.

6. Low-glycemic index diet

The foods low in glycemic index (GI) foods can have an impact on blood sugar levels. A low glycemic index diet involves swapping foods high in GI, to minimise the risk of sudden spikes in blood glucose levels, making them beneficial for diabetes management. Overall, this diet can help reduce blood sugar levels and lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and weight loss. Low-GI foods include green vegetables, legumes, fruits, kidney beans, raw carrots, lentils, and whole grains, to minimize spikes in blood glucose levels, making them beneficial for diabetes management.

Foods to avoid with diabetes

People with diabetes should avoid certain foods that can cause blood sugar spikes and negatively impact their overall health. Here are 7 foods to avoid if you have diabetes:

1. Avoid sugary drinks such as sodas, sweetened juices, and energy drinks, which are high in sugar and can cause rapid blood sugar spikes.
2. Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, and pastries lack fibre and can quickly raise blood glucose levels.
3. High-sugar snacks like candy, cookies, and other sweets that are high in sugar and low in nutritional value should also be avoided.
4. Fried foods, including french fries, fried chicken, and other deep-fried items, are high in unhealthy fats and calories. So, avoid them as well.
5. Excessive consumption of alcohol with diabetes can lead to unstable blood sugar levels and other health complications.
6. High-fat dairy products like full-fat milk, cheese, and cream can contribute to insulin resistance, so avoid them.

Keep a check on your regular diet in order to manage diabetes!

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