Good Nutrition for the Management of Diabetes Mellitus

high fiber foods

“The most important medicine for diabetes treatment is at the end of the fork”. This simple statement underscores the importance of food and nutrition in the management of diabetes mellitus. I often tell my patients that whatever the doctor does or does not is secondary to what they can do for themselves. The central role of good food and nutrition in the treatment (and possible cure of diabetes mellitus) cannot be overstated. It is therefore important to consider carefully what ends up at the end of the fork and into your body.

 

The commonest type of Diabetes Mellitus is Type 2 in which the body still makes some insulin, but it is either not enough or does not exact enough effect on the body for optimal effects. The later is often referred to as “Insulin resistance”. In Diabetes Mellitus Type 1, there is a total lack of insulin secretion. I shall limit this discussion to Type 2 Diabetes.

In this disease state, one of the earliest things that happen is a blunted release of insulin at the initial onset of a meal leading to high blood sugar following a meal and later on in the disease process, excessive production of glucose by the body leading to high blood sugar in the morning. The body is simply not able to handle simple sugars (like table sugar) and carbohydrates (bread, potatoes, rice, etc). These simple sugars are more difficult to handle and lead to greater increases in blood sugar. Complex carbohydrates like whole-wheat bread and pasta take a longer time to digest and thus give the body more time to process and respond to them.

 

Therefore, the best foods for diabetics are high fibers, vegetables, fruits, complex carbohydrates (whole-grain bread, whole-grain pasta, sweet potato; Quinoa, oatmeal), and proteins. It is best to avoid simple sugars like table sugar. Artificial sweeteners trick the brain and body and are not good for healthy living. Honey and other natural sweeteners are better than those. Legumes like beans, lentils, and peas are sources of good carbohydrates.

Author
Chimezie C. Amanambu, M.D.

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