A diabetes diet is a healthy-eating plan that is naturally rich in nutrients and low in fat and calories. Key elements are fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It should be low in cholesterol, low in salt and low in added sugar.
A person becomes diabetic if the level of blood sugar is 7mmoles of glucose in a litre of blood before eating and 11.1mmlololes of glucose in a litre of blood after a meal.
Dr Alex Mokori, a dietician at UNICEF says, “Blood sugar that arises from the food we eat is controlled by insulin, a digestive juice that is secreted by the pancreas.
Insulin controls the level of blood sugar and one becomes diabetic when there is either no production of insulin or the insulin produced is not able to control one’s blood sugar.”
Vegetables eaten raw or lightly steamed, roasted, or grilled are a good choice to get fiber and very little fat. “Go for a variety of coloured vegetables ranging from dark greens, red or orange like carrots or red peppers, whites (onions) and even purple (eggplants). Steamed greens such as kale, cabbage, spinach with low sodium or unsalted are perfect,” he says.
Dr Makori says sweet potatoes are an excellent choice for diabetics since they contain natural sugars that decrease and stabilize the insulin resistance in diabetics. They are good for the regulation of sugar levels.
Dr Paul Kasenene a nutritionist at Wellcare Centre says, “Yam is listed as a low glycemic index food for people with diabetes because it is slowly digested without causing any unnecessary fluctuations in the blood sugar levels.”
They are very essential because they provide carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Most fruits are naturally low in fat and sodium. But they tend to have more carbohydrates than vegetables.
Best choices include fresh fruits, sugar-free or low-sugar jam, whole grains, such as brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, millet, or amaranth, foods made with whole grains and no (or very little) added sugar.
Dr Kasenene says, “Additionally, the vitamin E found in avocado lowers cholesterol oxidation that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. It may also provide some protection from nerve damage in diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy.”
The worst foods
Limit refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and rice, as well as soda, candy, packaged meals, and snack foods.
He warns that, “Avoid foods like; jam, jelly and fruit drinks, vegetables with a lot of salt added, or with lots of added butter or cheese, processed grains, such as white rice or white flour, cereals with little whole grains and lots of sugar, white bread.”
Worst protein sources include; fried meats, pork bacon, regular cheese, poultry with skin, and deep-fried fish.
Your body needs proteins and for people with diabetes, plant-based proteins, such as beans and nuts are more recommendable. Fish, chicken and other poultry, eggs and low-fat dairy in regulated amounts are recommendable.