This week is American Diabetes Alert Day – a one-day “wake-up call” that focuses on the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of understanding your risks. According to the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases:
- 37.3 million Americans—or about 11.3% of the U.S. population—have diabetes.
- 8.5 million Americans, or about 1 in 5 people, are unaware that they are suffering from diabetes.
- Approximately 96 million people ages 18 or older have prediabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
- More than 8 in 10 adults living with prediabetes don’t know they have it.
- About half of women with gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that women develop when they are pregnant.
While heredity plays a part in developing diabetes, nutrition is a significant element that can both cause and treat this disease. You can better control your blood sugar levels and lower your risk of complications by making better dietary decisions.
Controlling carbohydrates is one of the most important food factors, because as a diabetic, you have difficulty digesting glucose. So, you can easily get elevated blood sugar levels. It’s vital to carefully control your carbohydrate intake and choose what are called complex carbs – like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Protein is crucial for diabetics since it helps to control blood sugar levels and helps to make you feel full. Choose lean protein sources, such as skinless chicken and fish and stay away from processed meats.
Fat cushions organs, stores energy, insulates the body against elements, supports cell growth and more. Always choose healthy sources of fat like nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. Foods like avocados are also a good choice.
Always be aware of food sizes and mealtimes. Choosing the proper balance of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats will help to stabilize blood sugar levels. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can assist in minimizing rapid rises in blood sugar.
Eating sugar is one of the major causes of high blood sugar levels, so it’s critical to keep added sugars in the diet to a minimum. This includes candy, baked goods, and beverages with added sugar. Also, read food labels and look for the sugar content in the food or beverage.
Increasing fiber intake: Fiber helps people with diabetes feel fuller longer because it slows the absorption of glucose. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are all excellent sources of fiber.
Drinking plenty of water can help prevent dehydration, which can make diabetic symptoms worse. Keeping hydrated is vital for overall health.
Avoiding alcohol: Alcohol should be avoided or consumed in moderation as it might affect blood sugar levels and interact with diabetic treatments.
Nutrition and the Management of Diabetes
It is possible to better control your blood sugar levels and lower your risk of problems by choosing better portion sizes, scheduling your meals well, and making other dietary changes.
Your best bet is to work with a healthcare practitioner who has a deep understanding of nutrition and how it affects the body. Find a Nutrition Coach who can create a personalized dietary plan that addresses your unique needs, if you have diabetes or are at risk of getting it.