Today, diabetes has become one of the most common diseases in the world.
Around 400 million people have diabetes today.
While diabetes is more complex than it seems, the simple step to preventing it is managing our blood sugar levels.
The best way to do this is to adhere to a low-carb diet.
This article gives you some low-carb diets you can follow to help prevent or manage diabetes.
What exactly is diabetes and how is it connected to food?
Diabetes is a disease that disables the body from processing carbohydrates.
A normal body should break down carbs into smaller units of glucose, and this manifests in our blood sugar.
When we have a high blood sugar, our pancreas will produce more insulin. Insulin is what allows blood sugar to enter our cells.
People who don’t have diabetes have blood sugar levels are within the normal range in a day. But the blood sugar levels of diabetic people can go higher or lower than the normal and can cause bodily harm.
There are many known types of diabetes, but the most known are type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Both types can affect anyone at any age.
In people who have type 1 diabetes, their body’s autoimmune process kills beta cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. Diabetic people have to take insulin multiple times a day to make sure their glucose gets into their cells and remains at a stable level.
In people who have type 2 diabetes, their bodies produce enough insulin, but their cells do not respond to its mechanism, so their blood sugar is above normal. In response to this, the pancreas has to produce insulin so the blood sugar drops to normal.
As time passes, the beta cells don’t make enough insulin.
Among protein, carbs, and fat, it is carbohydrates that have the biggest impact on blood sugar. For the reason that the body has to break them down to glucose.
That’s why people with diabetes have to intake huge doses of insulin and medication when they start eating too much carbohydrates.
Can low carb diets help people with diabetes?
A lot of research has shown that a low-carb diet is best for diabetes.
Studies report that even before insulin was discovered in 1921, low-carb diets were the go-to treatment for diabetic people.
Low-carb diets are also proven to work well in the long-term for diabetic people.
There is a study that shows that people with type 2 diabetes who ate a low-carb diet for 6 months showed that they managed their disease well after 3 years given they stick to their diet.
In the same way, people with type 1 diabetes who adhered to a low-carb diet showed improvement in blood sugar levels in a 4 year study.
What’s the best carb intake for diabetic people?
Many people deem this a controversial topic, even for people who advocate for low-carb diets.
Research shows significant improvements in blood sugar levels and weight when diabetic people limit their carb intake to 20 grams a day.
A doctor by the name Richard K. Bernstein, who contracted type 1 diabetes limited his carb intake to 30 grams a day and has reported great blood sugar management.
But there is also research that proves that 70-90 grabs of carbs, roughly about 20% of our daily consumption of calories from carbs, is also shown to be effective.
The best amount of carbs can also be different for each person, since each of our bodies respond uniquely to carbs.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) states that there’s no diet that fits each and every diabetic. THe best is always personalized meal plans that cater to diet preferences, as well as metabolic goals.
The ADA says that people should work with their doctors to know the best carb intake for them.
To know the optimum amount of carbs you need to consume, you’ll need to measure your blood glucose before a meal and 1-2 hours after your meal again.
The key is, your blood sugar needs to be below 140 mg/dL. This is the point when damage to your nerves can happen. You can test out consuming 6 grams a day, 10 grams, or 25 grams of carbs a meal when following a low-carb diet.
Your diabetes management also depends on your personal tolerance. Remember that the rule is the less you eat, the lesser the chances your blood sugar will shoot up.
Also, rather than removing carbs in your diet totally, a healthy diet should still include nutrient-rich carb sources like vegetables, nuts, berries, and seeds. Which are also high fiber.
What kind of carbs will raise my blood sugar?
In foods that are plants, carbs present themselves as starch, fiber, and sugar. But only the starch and sugar will raise your blood sugar.
Fiber doesn’t break down into glucose, and will not raise your blood sugar levels.
You can even subtract fiber and sugar alcohols from the total carbs you’re consuming. Example, if you’re eating 1 cup of broccoli with 5 grams of carbs, but 3 of those 5 grams are fiber, the net carb content is technically only 2 grams.
Inulin, a prebiotic fiber, has also been shown to improve fasting blood sugar in diabetic people.
On the other hand, maltitol, xylitol, erythritol, and sorbitol, known for sweetening sugar-free products, can actually raise your blood sugar levels.
That’s why the net carb technique should be used in caution, because we can never really be too sure what cancels out what, and what adds up to what.
What’s more, the net carb tool isn’t really used by the FDA.
What foods do I need to eat and what do I avoid?
It’s best to focus on consuming a low-carb diet with foods that have a lot of nutrients.
It’s also recommended to be attuned to how your body becomes hungry, and the cues it tells you when you’re already full.
The foods you need to eat are meat, chicken, seafood, eggs, cheese, vegetables, avocados, and olives.
Foods you need to eat in moderation are berries, yogurt, cheese, nuts, flaxseeds, dark chocolate, squash, alcohol, and red wine.
Remember always that reducing your carb intake drastically will lower your insulin levels, causing your kidneys to produce sodium and water.
To make up for the lost sodium, consume olives, and other low carb salty foods. If you feel like you’re peeing all the time, don’t deprive yourself of salt in your food.
But don’t overdo it especially if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, and kidney disease.
The foods you need to avoid are bread, pasta, corn, cereal, potatoes, milk, fruits, juices, beer, and desserts like ice cream and baked goods.
What are samples of low carb meals for diabetics
These are meals with 15 grams or less of digestible carbs. If you have a higher or lower carb tolerance, you can adjust the serving sizes of the dishes.
Breakfast: Fried eggs and spinach
You can fry 3 eggs in butter, saute the spinach, and have it with a side of blackberries, and black coffee.
Lunch: A Cobb salad.
Mix 90 grams of cooked chicken with cheese, a slice of bacon, a medium avocado, some fresh tomatoes, lettuce, olive oil and a little vinegar. On the side you can have dark chocolate and natural lemon iced tea.
Dinner: Salmon with vegetables.
Grill 4 ounces of salmon, pair it with zucchini, sauteed mushrooms. For desert, drink a watered down wine, a cup of strawberries, and a couple of walnuts.
It’s important to talk to your doctor if you make drastic diet changes
Blood sugar decreases significantly when you restrict carbs.
Because of this, your doctor might reduce your insulin and other medication. Even remove your medication totally.
A study of 17 to 21 people with type 2 diabetes stopped their medication when they limited their carbs to 20 grams a day.
Other ways to lower your blood sugar
Other than reducing your carbs, you can also exercise to manage your blood sugar.
Aerobic exercise is great for your insulin sensitivity.
Great sleep is also important. People who sleep at least 7 hours are known to have better blood glucose levels. You can also try Yoga and meditation.
The bottom line
A huge number of studies show that low carb diets can help in managing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It helps in managing blood sugar, decreasing the need for medication, and lessen the risk of contracting complications due to diabetes.
Always communicate with your doctor if you observe any significant changes, especially in pain and welfare management.
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