Type 2 diabetes: The diet you need to follow to lower blood sugar and prevent condition
Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the level of sugar in a person’s blood is too high. It can be dangerous, as if left untreated type 2 diabetes can lead to complications with the heart, nerves, kidneys, feet and eyes. Type 2 diabetes is linked to weight, in that people who are overweight are more likely to develop the condition and the associated complications. The condition can therefore be controlled by keeping to a healthy weight and improving your diet.
The most obvious way to keep blood sugar in check is to cut down on the amount of sugar you consume, but there are other dietary changes people are also advised to make.
Health experts don’t actually recommend a specific diet for people with diabetes, but advise all people with the condition follow a healthy, balanced diet.
People with diabetes may, however, need to keep a closer eye on the amount of sugar, fat and carbohydrates consumed.
According to Diabetes UK, a healthy, balanced diet includes foods from each of the five main groups, while cutting down on foods high in fat, salt and sugar.
“No single food contains all the essential nutrients your body needs,” said the diabetes charity.
“That’s why a healthy diet is all about variety and choosing different foods from each of the main food groups.”
Fruit and vegetables
Fruit and veg are naturally low in calories and packed full of essential vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Even though fruit contains sugar, it is natural sugar and should still be included in your diet as the health benefits of fruit outweigh the sugar content.
Starchy foods are carbohydrates like potatoes, rice, pasta and bread. Carbs are broken down in sugar when digested and can therefore cause blood sugar to rise, but they can also be a good source of fibre.
Different carbs affect blood sugar levels differently. Those with a low glycaemic index affect glucose sugar levels more slowly so are recommended over those with a high glycaemic index.
Low GI foods include wholegrain bread, wholewheat pasta and basmati, brown or wild rice. High GI foods include refined carbs like white bread and white pasta.
High protein foods like meat and fish keep the muscles healthy, but eating too much red and processed meat has been linked to cancer and heart disease.
Instead, opt for lean meat and oily fish like mackerel, salmon and sardines, which contain omega 3.
Dairy foods like milk, cheese and yoghurt have lots of calcium and protein, but some can be high in saturated fat, so try to opt for low-fat versions.
Oils and spreads
Oils and spreads can contain saturated fat, which can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Oils and spreads containing unsaturated fats, however, can help protect the heart. These include olive oil, vegetable oil, rapeseed oil and spreads made from those oils.
Diabetes: Four common symptoms
Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high.
There are two main types – type 1, when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells, and type 2, when the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin.
Type 2 is more common that type 1, with 90 per cent of all diabetics in the UK having type 2.
Going to the toilet a lot more than usual, especially at night, is a common sign of diabetes.
Urinating frequently is also a sign of other medical issues, such as prostate problems, so be sure to visit your GP to have diabetes confirmed.
Excessive thirst, otherwise known as polydipsia, is a classic sign of diabetes. It is linked to frequent urination.
As excess glucose builds up in the blood, the kidneys are forced to work extra hard to filter and absorb the excess sugar, and if they can’t keep up, the excess sugar is excreted in to urine, taking along fluids from body tissue.
This triggers more urination, which may leave diabetics dehydrated.
High levels of blood sugar can cause the lens inside the eye to swell, which can result in blurred eyesight.
Very low blood sugar levels can also cause blurred vision.
If you aren’t trying to lose weight, and you notice a loss of muscle bulk or the numbers on the scales drop, this could be a sign of diabetes.
This happens because insufficient insulin prevents the body from getting glucose from the blood to the cells to use as energy.
The body will then start burning fat and muscle for energy, causing weight loss.