While eating right is important for everyone, it becomes even more critical for people with diabetes. Numerous studies show that the right kind of nutrition is actually the best way to manage diabetes. Incorporating certain “superfoods” into one's diet can go a long way in helping people with diabetes lead a normal life while keeping the symptoms and long term effects of the condition at bay. We list here some of the most important superfoods (foods rich in both macro and micro nutrients that diabetics need the most) for those with diabetes.
The importance of green and leafy vegetables can never be emphasised upon enough for people with diabetes. Vegetables are an excellent source of important vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, B, magnesium, potassium and calcium - all of which help in addressing cell inflammation and insulin resistance. Vegetables are also rich sources of both soluble and insoluble fibres, which help in an even and slow sugar absorption into the blood while also providing a feeling of fullness.
Good vegetable options include spinach, lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers, cauliflowers, all types of gourds, green beans and okra (lady's finger). The coloured vegetables that should form part of a healthy diet are bell peppers of all colours, garlic and squash. A balanced diet should include at least 4-5 vegetable servings, where one serving equals half a cup of cooked or a cup of raw veggies.
Fruits such as apples, berries, cherries, and pears contain fibre that helps in slowing down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Berries and citrus fruits are the best options for people with diabetes since these are high in vitamins and antioxidants that help in cell restoration while protecting against excessive oxidation.
3-4 servings of whole fruits, so as to get the benefit of high fibre content, should be incorporated into the daily diet. Bright coloured or dark fruits like apples, oranges, lime, lemons, plums, peaches and pears are options which are easily available while indigenous berries like jamun, phalsa and tomatoes too have proven effective in controlling diabetes.
Proteins, when digested properly release amino acids that help in increasing the body’s utilisation of both insulin and glucagons. This not only leads to controlling of the blood sugar but also cholesterol production and fat storage.
The best sources of lean protein are fish, seafood, low fat chicken and eggs. For vegetarians, low fat milk, yoghurt and paneer, tofu, nuts and seeds prove effective.
Nuts are known to be rich sources of good fats like monounsaturated fats, Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats and Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats that help in reducing insulin resistance and controlling blood sugar. Their high Omega 3 content helps in maintaining brain, heart and eye health. While cashews should be avoided because of their high calorific value; peanuts, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts should be made a small, yet important part of one’s daily diet.
Is eating superfoods enough to keep you healthy?
A healthy and balanced life can go a long way in controlling diabetes and its related conditions. However, the concept of ‘balanced’ can vary from person to person. This is where a person who ‘thinks’ he is getting a healthy diet may end up suffering in the long run. For example, Choline, which is known to be extremely important for the functioning of the liver (its deficiency impedes the creation and absorption of sugar) is found in considerable amounts only in eggs and animal liver.
Similarly, Vitamin B6 has been long been proven to be useful in the management of diabetes as its deficiency increases the rate of glycosylation (excessive blood sugar sticking to essential body proteins) and glucose intolerance while decreasing the rate of production of both glucagons and insulin. While a daily dose of healthy fruit and vegetables can lead to one getting the required daily allowance for Vitamin B6, the body may still not be able to absorb it because of a deficiency of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) whose RDA is hard to get from food alone.
Constraints on what can be eaten and in what quantities may result in insufficient intake of essential nutrients like Vitamins & Minerals. Also, a person with diabetes may not often be getting requisite amounts of essential macro and micro nutrients in spite of their best efforts to follow a healthy and balanced diet. Adopting a specially formulated diabetic supplement like RESOURCE Diabetic into one’s diet could be a prudent option. Specially formulated diets can play a helpful role in ensuring sufficient intake of proteins and essential vitamins & minerals. High fibre content in these products ensures that you feel full and overcome the constant hunger pangs.