Diabetic Diets are a major key for diabetics to control their blood sugar levels allowing normal active lifestyles. Read this detailed article to find out more.
12/17/2011 | 09:48 PM
Diabetic Diet: The Key to Controlling Blood Sugar Levels
Diabetic diets are eating plans designed by registered dieticians for people suffering from diabetes. Diabetes, whose complete medical name is diabetes mellitus, is a group of metabolic disorders, which results because the body does not produce enough insulin or because the cells do not respond to the insulin produced. Insulin is a hormone that helps the human body to absorb glucose. The insufficient insulin leads to high blood glucose or sugar levels in the blood. Diabetes affects one's ability to manage their blood sugar internally. As a result, sufferers of diabetes are required to manage their blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, and injection of insulin. With 25.8 million Americans living with diabetes and 4,100 new cases diagnosed every day in the United States, there is a growing need for accurate diabetic diet information.
The primary role of a diabetic diet is to ensure that the intake of calories and carbohydrates are controlled. This is because carbohydrates are broken down to create blood sugars and hence controlling the intake through specialized diets is the best way to keep blood sugar levels under control. There are several types of popular diet that can be adapted to suit the dietary requirements of a diabetic. Low-carbohydrate, high fiber, high protein diets are the most common. However, there is no scientific consensus on the right balance between carbohydrates and protein for a low-carbohydrate diet.
There are also diets that set a level of a maximum caloric level, as if more calories are ingested, the more insulin that will be needed to properly metabolize the resulting sugars. Current accepted diabetic diet information dictates that any diet where carbohydrates and resulting blood sugars are controlled would be considered a viable meal plan for the management of diabetes. In recent years, artificial sweeteners have been developed that do not impact blood sugar levels and are thus acceptable for ingestion by diabetics. Artificial sweeteners allow diabetics to eat almost anything that a non-diabetic can consume, the only caveat being that any sugar ingredients must be replaced with an acceptable artificial sweetener such as Aspartame, Sucra, or Splenda. Some well-known diabetes-friendly diets include the Pritikin Diet, Low Glycemic Index Diet, Low-Carb Diet, High Fiber Diet, and Vegan Diets. The commonality amongst all of these diets is this one simple fact: processed sugars and high-carbohydrate foods have a large impact on raising blood sugar levels, requiring extensive monitoring and management through regular insulin injection. By controlling these foods that cause a rise in blood sugar levels, management (or prevention) of diabetes becomes easier.
There has been long history of dietary treatment of diabetes mellitus. Researchers have recorded that dietary treatment of diabetes mellitus was used in Egypt as long ago as 3,500 B.C. Studies have also indicated that Indians used diabetic diets to manage diabetes more than 2000 years ago. In the eighteenth century, author John Rollo’s notes recorded that calorie restriction in the diabetic diet could reduce glycosuria in diabetes. Frederick Madison Allen, a health researcher in more recent history of the diabetic diet recommended, in the days before insulin was discovered, that people with diabetes consume only a low-calorie diet to prevent ketoacidosis from killing them. However, this was an approach that did not actually cure diabetes; it merely extended life by a limited period. The first use of insulin by Frederick Banting in 1922 changed things, and at last allowed patients more flexibility in their eating habits.
Diabetic Diet Benefits
Proteins: Proteins are important in the supply of amino acids. Amino acids are very important for the process of tissue repair and in maintaining the levels of glucose during the process of absorption. Proteins contain fewer amounts of calories as compared to the fats.
Carbohydrates: These are very important to prevent ketosis.
Fats: One must focus on foods rich in saturated fats. Cholesterol should be completely avoided.
Fiber: It is important to reduce the glucose absorption rate. Fiber works towards facilitating urinary glucose excretion, stomach-emptying processes, reduction of blood sugar rise, and delay in the intestinal passage time.
Remember that a diabetes diet should be completely devoid of the following foods
a) Potatoes, sweet potatoes
b) Sugar, glucose, jams
c) Jaggery, honey, sweets
d) Fried foods
e) Mango, banana, chickoo, custard apple
f) A lot of oil or fat
Try to include a lot of fresh leafy green vegetables and salads in your food. In a nutshell, a diabetic diet is a complete and healthy diet with an appropriate proportion of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals designed to create an even, stable, and slow release of glucose into the blood. The ultimate goal is to keep the blood glucose level as near as possible to that of a non-diabetic person. A diabetic person must identify what to eat, exercise discipline on how much to eat, and when to eat in order to keep his blood sugar level within the desired range.
Healthy diabetic eating includes:
a) Limiting foods that are high in sugar
b) Eating smaller portions spread out over the day
c) Being careful about when and how many carbohydrates you eat
d) Eating a variety of whole-grain foods, fruits, and vegetables every day
e) Eating less fat
f) Limiting your use of alcohol
g) Using less salt
Because a diabetic diet has low calories and carbohydrates it helps keep a stable blood glucose level. This helps prevent complications that commonly are a result of diabetes. It reduces the amount of insulin required in the body. Carbohydrates and lean meats will help you in this process. When you follow a diabetic diet, you develop a better feeling of well being. Many people who do not maintain strict adherence to this diet tend to overeat and eat the wrong kinds of food. This raises their blood sugar level and results in fatigue and the general feeling of being unhealthy. Following a strict diabetic diet will not allow you to overeat or to eat food that can make you gain weight. This results in keeping your body weight under control. This also reduces the risk of developing other health problems such as stroke and heart disease. Following a diabetic diet has many benefits other than just controlling your blood sugar levels. Experts suggest that you should also focus on exercise and have an active life in order to profit from its benefits in the most advantageous way.
Diabetic Diet Side Effects
Decreased Food Choices: Having to control your blood glucose levels requires that you avoid consuming certain foods, which may be a disadvantage to some individuals.
Low Carbing Can Be Expensive: Because there is a lot of fresh meat, cheese, and produce required in a diabetic diet, it can cost more than a normal diet. However, as long as you get creative, cook in bulk, and stick to a budget, it is doable.
Low Blood Sugar Levels: Low carb diets may result in lowered, or more even blood sugar levels. This is an important low carb diet side effect for any diabetic, particularly ones that take insulin shots or medication. Since low carb diets can drastically reduce your blood sugar levels naturally, your doctor may need to adjust your medication levels to compensate for those changes.
Excess Weight Loss: Another low carb diet side effect is, of course, losing a lot of weight. This, by itself, is not technically a side effect, but a related effect of losing weight can include regulation of blood pressure, easing or disappearance of digestive tract problems, and resolution of breathing problems.
Digestive Problems: Some people may experience digestive troubles. If you experience this as a low carb dieting side effect, your doctor will need to adjust or eliminate the medications you take.
With diabetes being one of the major killer diseases today, researchers have worked tirelessly to come up with ways of managing this health condition. Basically, sufferers of diabetes are advised to engage in lifestyles that will keep their blood sugar in check. The primary way, so far, to manage diabetes is employing a diabetic diet. It is therefore very necessary for a diabetic to follow a diabetic diet in order to maintain a healthy body and keep away from the complications of diabetes.