Healthy Eating with Diabetes

Why Healthy Eating is Important with Diabetes 

Modern times have made amazing advances that make our lives easier. Unfortunately, our modern diet has gotten much worse. Our weight creeps up every year, and we can’t figure out exactly why.

So many products claim to be healthy, but are processed, chemically altered and full of sugar. Plus, we’re surrounded by fast food and soda that’s so easy to get. As our weight increases we develop insulin resistance so their body can’t use the insulin it has. This is why the world is seeing a rise in diabetes. Over 400 million people around the world have diabetes and many others have pre-diabetes without being aware.

High blood sugar is wrecking havoc on our bodies. A diet high in processed foods, animal fat and sugar leads to diabetes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, stroke, dementia, and claudication which is diseased blood vessels in the legs. In contrast, a diet, rich in health proteins, plants, and healthy fats, lowers blood sugar levels because its has lots of fiber, which is critical for diabetics in lowering blood sugar levels.

Our bodies need a form of sugar called glucose in the blood, to feed our cells but diabetics need to avoid spikes in blood glucose as too much glucose in the blood stream at one time can damage tissue and cause serious health problems. It can be hard to achieve this balance, if you don’t know what to eat.

The glycemic index score can help. The Glycemic Index score measures how much each food will increase blood sugar levels on a scale of 0 to 100.

  • Below 55 is low.
  • 56 to 59 is MEDIUM.
  • And 70 and up is HIGH.

If you want to feel full, the low glycemic food is the way to go. Not only will it not spike blood sugars, it will help you feel full longer, due to the high amount of fiber.

Fiber is the Key to Success

If you want to fill up while keeping calories low, go for fruits and vegetables. Plant based food has fiber, which slows the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream. People need between 21 and 38 grams of fiber a day, but most Americans only consume between 10 and 15 grams.

There are three kinds of Fiber: Diabetics need all three of these in their daily diet.

  • Soluble fiber – slows the absorption of glucose and lowers cholesterol.
  • Insoluble fiber – the roughage that provides bulk and regularity.
  • Resistant starch – technically a carbohydrate that acts like a fiber. This starch doesn’t provide many calories and it won’t raise blood sugars. It’s resistant to stomach acids and digestive enzymes so the small intestine can’t digest it just like fiber. Instead, it passes to the large intestine where it ferments, which means the gut bacteria break the starch down into simpler compounds that provide many health benefits – especially for diabetics. That’s why resistant starch is a prebiotic. When resistant starch goes through fermentation in the large intestine, it produces short chain fatty acids, or SCFA. That’s one key to why resistant starch is so good for keep blood sugars low—it doesn’t convert to sugar. It converts to FAT. You’ll find resistant starch in: Old fashioned oats, beans, legumes, and green bananas.

Now I’d like to tell you about 13 diabetic super foods to combat high blood sugar. Many of these foods are scientifically proven to LOWER blood sugar levels and help improve insulin resistance.

  1. Whole Grain, Brown Basmati Rice

Rice is normally a “no no” for anyone watching their blood sugar or trying to lose weight. Because most rice is PACKED with carbs. However, brown basmati rice has the lowest glycemic index of all rice, with a GI range of 50 to 58, because it has 20% more fiber than other types of brown rice. The extra fiber in basmati rice make it a healthy choice for diabetics, but there’s even more to this special rice. The real secret to why it’s on this list is its resistant starch. Resistant starch also helps you feel full sooner and stay full longer, so you’ll eat less at your meal. It also has MORE nutrients than other types of rice. It has more B vitamins and the minerals copper and magnesium— magnesium also helps balance blood sugar levels.

2. Yogurt

Yogurt can improve blood sugar control, has protein, and has probiotics to enhancing your gut health. Good gut health improves your overall health. Recent research has shown that eating yogurt lowers blood glucose and insulin resistance. Be sure to buy unsweetened yogurt and add fruit at home.

Another way to supercharge your yogurt is to add green banana powder (flour) for the resistant starch.

3. Whole Grain Oats or Steel Cut Oats (oats made by taking whole grain oats and cutting them into 2 to 3 smaller pieces using a steel blade.)

For years we’ve heard about the benefits of eating old fashioned oatmeal. The full grain version—not instant or rolled oatmeal—lowers cholesterol and blood sugars. The positive effect is no doubt from fiber, but oats also contain B-glucans, which lower blood sugar levels in four ways:

  • They reduce glucose and insulin responses after meals
  • They improve insulin sensitivity and glycemic control
  • And they reduce blood lipids

You can sweeten oatmeal with banana slices or berries— berries are another diabetic superfood you’ll see on this list. Oats are also anti-inflammatory. Type 2 diabetes causes long-term inflammation which leads to other health problems.

4. Apples

Apples are filling, full of fiber and loaded with polyphenols, a compound that slows the digestion of carbs and lowers blood sugars. They also help lower insulin resistance.

5. Eggs

Eggs have a glycemic index of ZERO, so they are a perfect breakfast or snack for diabetics. They are also a complete protein, meaning they provide all nine essential amino acids that our bodies need. They’re also loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. Eggs average 70 calories and 6 grams of protein, and they’re loaded with a host of healthy nutrients. So what about the bad fat in a eggs? Eggs only have 1.5 grams of saturated fat and the cholesterol in one egg a day is safe for most people. . . studies have shown lower rates of heart attacks, strokes, or other cardiovascular diseases in people who eat up to one egg per day.” So we don’t have to worry about cholesterol with eggs.

6. Salmon

The healthy fat in salmon lowers blood sugar levels. The high omega-3 content in all fatty fish fights inflammation, which protects you from disease and the negative effects of high blood sugars.

Salmon also has an antioxidant that gives it its pink to red tone. This antioxidant works with the omega-3s to further protect your brain and nervous system from inflammation. It also reduces the oxidation of bad cholesterol, and that lowers the risk of heart disease.

7. Nuts

Nuts are the perfect snack. They are full of protein, fiber, and healthy omega-3 fats, vitamin E, various vitamin Bs, and a long list of minerals including calcium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium, selenium, and zinc. Almonds, rich in vitamin C, zinc, and monounsaturated fats, are filling and suppress your sweet tooth. Studies have shown that eating nuts significantly reduces fasting blood sugars and hemoglobin A1c, which is a marker of long-term blood glucose control. It’s good to get a mix of nuts because different ones offer different benefits. Walnuts have an essential fatty acid that lowers cholesterol and boosts heart health. Both walnuts and Brazil nuts lower cholesterol thanks to their polyunsaturated fatty acid profile and high fiber content.

8. Avocados

Avocados are full of healthy fat so they’re very filling. They’re full of fiber, 20 different vitamins, and minerals, AND they lower blood sugar levels. More and more studies are finding that avocados reduce blood sugar levels and prevent metabolic syndrome. Avocados also lower cholesterol with a compound called sterols, plus the fat in avocados helps you absorb fat-soluble vitamins better. These include vitamins a, D, E, and K. The high levels of vitamin E in avocados also plays a role in keeping blood sugars balanced.

9. Broccoli and Broccoli Sprouts

Broccoli has always been known as one of the most nutritious vegetables with 70% of your daily vitamin C, plus magnesium, fiber, and iron. It has an added bonus for fighting high blood sugar levels that comes from a chemical called sulforaphane present in both broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Studies have shown that the sulforaphane improve insulin resistance and protect against cell damage of the blood vessels, a problem that plagues diabetics.

10. Berries

Berries are little powerhouses of health benefits – they prevent inflammation and disease, help your skin stay young and healthy, and provide a sweet treat without the sugar spike. Berries are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants .. and they improve blood sugar control. Strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries also benefit blood sugar management by improving insulin sensitivity and glucose clearance from the blood.

11. Leafy greens

Leafy greens are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Leafy greens are non-starchy vegetables with less digestible carbs than other veggies. Both spinach and kale are both very high in vitamin C. Spinach offers fiber, vitamins, folate, chlorophyll, manganese, calcium, potassium, zinc, phosphorous, protein and carotene. Another bonus of leafy greens is the glycemic index score of zero! A recent review of scientific studies has confirmed that eating about a cup of greens a day greatly reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and also treats the symptoms. It didn’t matter if the leafy greens are cooked or raw – the benefits were the same. The high magnesium in leafy greens makes a big difference because diabetics are so often deficient in it.

12. Flaxseed Powder

Flaxseeds are a mega health booster for your heart and blood sugar levels. Flaxseed is full of protein, fiber, and magnesium, a mineral that it key to good blood sugar control. It’s also a rich source of a-linolenic acid and lignanm, and the antioxidant hypolipidemic, which have hypoglycemic effects.

Studies show that eating 7 ounces of flaxseed powder in yogurt daily led to a significant reduction in HbA1c.You can get benefits from eating the seeds, but it’s even better to consume flaxseed powder so you can absorb the most nutrients. You can make a huge impact in your health and blood sugars by mixing a little flax seed powder into your food every day, such as yogurt, baked goods.

Flax seeds and the powder are also anti-inflammatory and protects against cancer and other diseases.

13. Beans and lentils

Beans are “your blood sugar’s best friend.” They have a higher amount of slowly digestible resistant starch, insoluble fiber, and soluble fiber than other foods. All three of these slow your digestion and improve your blood sugar response. One study showed eating a serving of beans instead of rice correlated to a 35% reduction in the risk of prediabetes. Beans are packed with nutrients such as magnesium, fiber, and protein, all of which balance and lower blood sugar levels. Adding black beans to a rice meal, will greatly reduced their blood sugar levels after the meal, compared to eating rice alone.

And remember, lentils contain protein along with lots of fiber – coming in at 18 grams of protein per cup.

Designing Your Diabetic Diet

It’s easier to make healthy food choices when you move toward a whole food diet – there are so many issues with more processed foods. Some these foods can be easily incorporated into your current diet, such as nuts, berries, yogurt, fruit, and vegetables. You can also make a huge difference in your blood sugar levels by swapping basmatic rice or for white rice. Another healthy swap: trade in your breakfast cereals for eggs, Greek yogurt, or steel-cut oats. And remember to include beans and lentils in your diet for their powerful anti-diabetic properties.

Finally, here’s a few breakfast ideas:

  • Eggs with spinach folded in and avocado slices on top.
  • Eggs with salmon.
  • And egg omelet with mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, and avocado. Top with Greek yogurt.
  • Greek yogurt with berries, bananas, diced apple, or nuts
  • Whole grain oats with healthy toppings

For lunch:

  • Yogurt and berries for a light lunch (add flaxseed powder or green banana powder to supercharge your meal.)
  • Bean soup
  • Deviled eggs made with avocado and yoke filling.
  • Leafy green salad with black beans, mushrooms, hardboiled egg, and olive oil.

For dinner:

  • Salmon and basmati rice, a broccoli side.
  • Chili
  • Basmati rice, black beans, and veggies.
  • Veggie noodles with mushroom sauce
  • Leafy green salad with beans, lots of other vegetables, and lean meat.