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What is Diabetes?
The fact that you are reading this article likely means that you are familiar with diabetes, perhaps you even suffer from the condition yourself, but a bit of background information is always valuable. If you know someone who has diabetes or are have a lifestyle that puts you at high risk for diabetes, then this is also information that could be very beneficial for you.
Diabetes, quite simply, is a classification of metabolic diseases that result in a person having high blood sugar. More than 380 million people around the world suffer from this disease, and numbers are increasing every year. The technical name of diabetes is Diabetes mellitus, but more importantly is knowing the difference between different types of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes: Type 1 diabetes means that a person is unable to produce insulin, a hormone that enables cells in our fat tissue and skeletal muscles to absorb glucose (sugar) from the blood. Having too much blood sugar causes a wide range of health concerns, including increased hunger and thirst (which leads to overeating and obesity), increased urination, and even more serious health issues, such as kidney failure, heart problems, damage to your vision, and even death. Type 1 diabetes is caused by the autoimmune destruction of the beta cells in the pancreas that create insulin; this type represents approximately 10% of diabetes cases in the world.
Type 2 diabetes: Type 2 diabetes represents the other 90% of global diabetes cases and is often referred to as “adult-onset diabetes”. Type 2 diabetes is a result of lifestyle, not a metabolic autoimmune disease that you are born with. Type 2 diabetes means that your body is unable to properly utilize the insulin that your pancreas produces, resulting in similar symptoms as Type 1 diabetes. The ways that insulin is replaced in the body can cause either low or high blood sugar, both of which can be very dangerous. There is no known cure for diabetes, although there are plenty of medications that people take to monitor and regulate their blood sugar.
However, there is another option – managing your diet properly! There are many essential foods that diabetics should add to their diet that can help keep their bodies healthy and regulate their blood sugar in a natural way. According to a recent study, plant-based foods contain antioxidants(polyphenols) that may improve blood sugar in people at risk for diabetes and heart disease. Let’s take a closer look at the 15 best foods for diabetics!
Foods for Diabetics
In fact, cruciferous vegetables of all kinds, including kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and broccoli are great for diabetics. The low-calorie and low-carb nature of these vegetables, combined with their high antioxidant potential, makes them ideal for fending off chronic illness. A study reported a 14% reduction in developing Type 2 diabetes when green, leafy vegetables were a regular part of one’s diet.
The high content of flavonoids and other antioxidants in dark chocolate actually reduce insulin resistance, increase insulin sensitivity, lower cravings for food and sweets, and also lowers chances of heart problems and blood pressure issues.
The high fiber content of beans is important for managing glucose absorption, but recent research has also shown that legumes are able to lower stroke risk and regulate insulin release in the body, making it a major diabetes booster.
Although its direct impact on diabetes is somewhat unclear, garlic is known to reduce blood cholesterol, lower chances of blood clots, reduce the risk of stroke, and lower blood pressure, all of which are associated with complications or are indicators of diabetes risk.
Not only do the omega-3 fatty acids in fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring reduce your risk of heart disease, which diabetics are already prone to, but the healthy combination of protein and fat actually slows the absorption of carbohydrates, which helps your body maintain stable blood sugar levels.
This superfood is praised for being rich in antioxidants, and the anthocyanins in blueberries can significantly lower your chances of contracting type 2 diabetes by more than 20% according to recent research.
Egg whites are a healthy, lean protein and are very low in carbohydrates, which means that it doesn’t impact your blood sugar and helps you prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
The high content of soluble fiber in oatmeal can help to reduce feelings of hunger, while also blocking the absorption of carbohydrates, which can keep your blood sugar levels on an even keel. Furthermore, it lowers the changes of cardiovascular diseases and high cholesterol, which are dangerous for those who suffer from diabetes.
The carotenoids and flavonoids found in tomatoes work as great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents in the body, lowering your risk of chronic diseases, heart conditions, cholesterol, and other telling signs that can often lead to diabetes. They are also non-starchy vegetables, so they will keep your blood sugar levels under control.
Fat-free yogurt has been shown to be a major booster for diabetics, as the high-protein, low-fat, and low-carbohydrate combination lowers the absorption of glucose into our body, while the calcium content has also been shown to lower type 2 diabetes risk.
This alternative grain is a complete protein, which is extremely important for our health, and it is also packed with fiber, which increases insulin sensitivity and regulates the absorption of carbohydrates into the body, preventing fluctuations in blood sugar that diabetics have to avoid.
The antioxidants found in red onions, such as quercetin, capsaicin, and flavonoids make them powerful anti-cancer food, they are good for boosting heart health, and reduce the chances of chronic diseases like diabetes.
These unassuming nuts provide a huge boost of magnesium and monounsaturated fats, which regulates carbohydrate metabolism. Research has also shown that a high-magnesium diet, like one that includes almonds, helps to lower your chances of developing type 2 diabetes by more than 30%.
Studies have shown that by replacing butter and lard with olive oil can reduce your chances of developing diabetes by more than 50%, not to mention the important antioxidants and monounsaturated fats that reduce heart disease and cholesterol, both of which diabetics are prone to have problems with.
Compared to their white, “unsweet” cousins, sweet potatoes have been shown to reduce A1C levels (a measurement of blood sugar) by up to .5%, while the anthocyanins and other antioxidants help to prevent chronic diseases like coronary heart disease and cancer, for which diabetic patients are at higher risk.