Diabetes is a condition in which the level of sugar in a person’s blood is too high. If left untreated, diabetes can be dangerous as it can lead to health complications with the heart, nerves, eyes, kidneys and feet. In the case of type 2 diabetes, blood sugar is too high because the body fails to produce enough insulin or the the body’s cells don’t react to the insulin produced. The function of insulin is to control the level of sugar in the blood by transferring some to the cells. Type 2 diabetes can be managed by taking medication, but it’s also essential to eat a healthy diet that is low in sugar, calories and saturated fat.
In addition, people with the condition are advised to include certain, healthier foods that can help improve blood sugar levels into their diet.
Diabetes expert Diabetes.co.uk recommends diabetic people eat the following four foods to “help” manage diabetes:
Fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables contain lots of vitamins and minerals and are a great source of fibre.
Some fruits and vegetables have more effect on blood sugar levels than others, so try to pick those with a lower glycaemic index.
The GI ranks foods depending on the rate at which the body breaks them down to form glucose – the higher a type of food is on the GI index, the quicker it is broken down into glucose.
Protein can be “very useful” as it is more slowly broken down by the body than carbohydrates.
As a result, it has less of an effect on blood sugar and can help you to feel fuller for longer.
Good protein sources include oily fish and lean meats, such as grilled, skinless chicken.
Wholegrain foods are those containing oats, barley and wheat where the full grain is used.
Foods made from grains have quite a high concentration of carbohydrate, so people with diabetes are advised to test their blood sugar before and after eating grain-based foods to see whether their blood sugar is being raised too high.
Choose high-fibre bread over low-fibre bread, and brown rice over white rice.
Nuts, herbs and spices
Nuts have a high calorific value, so limit the number you eat and avoid salty variants. Don’t be put off this though, as nuts are a great source of fibre and vitamins and can help to lower cholesterol.
Herbs and spices are another good source of vitamins and can be used to replace salt when cooking.
“Everyone is different, so what works for one person is no guarantee it will work for another. It’s worth knowing and being aware of general guidelines and then testing to see how different foods affect your sugar levels,” said Diabetes.co.uk.