Diabetes Diet & Nutrition
As a diabetic, it is imperative that you to pay close attention to your diet and, in the case of Type II diabetics, watch your weight. The number one dieting objective should be to watch those sugar levels! Weight loss is also a big concern since overweight conditions will typically aggravate the diabetic condition. Both of these areas will be discussed in detail but first we will address the subject of diabetic diet. It is most important for the diabetic to learn about nutrition. Managing diabetes is a daily discipline. By following a good diet, you can make things a lot easier and you will also enjoy the other common benefits of healthy dieting.
For diabetics, natural foods including complex carbohydrates, vegetables and complex carbohydrates may be the safest philosophy. Simple carbohydrates are not the best thing for diabetics. These include things like sweets, candies, cakes, sweet drinks and jams all of which are rapidly absorbed and digested. They will cause a surge of sugar levels in the bloodstream which can cause serious problems. They should be avoided or at least taken in small quantities. Complex Carbohydrates are a much better source of energy for diabetics. These include whole wheat or wholegrain breads, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, beans, oats and most vegetables and fruits. These will be more slowly absorbed and digested and will therefore help to keep the patients sugar levels stable. Besides carbohydrates, however there are other considerations.
The goals for a diabetic diet are basically to achieve near normal blood glucose levels and protect the heart and cholesterol levels. It is also important to manage or prevent the complications that can come about from diabetes. Diabetics are at risk for a number of medical complications, including heart and kidney disease. For this reason it is important to also limit fat intake. Avoid saturated fats and trans-fatty acids such as hard margarine and fast food. Monounsaturated fat is preferred such as virgin olive oil or canola oil. Polyunsaturated oils are also good such as sunflower oil. Consume plenty of fiber-rich foods such as whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. Nuts and seeds are also good.. When choosing foods with sugar, choose fresh fruits, but do so in moderation.
Another important principle for a diabetic to consider is the consumption of alcohol. It is important, once you have been diagnosed with diabetes, that you only drink alcohol in moderation. The best scenario would be to avoid it altogether but this is not imperative. Alcohol behaves like a simple carbohydrate. If you drink too much of it, it can quickly throw off your sugar-levels. If you can’t avoid it altogether, then drink it in moderation. Especially avoid alcohol on an empty stomach.
Fiber is an important component of many diabetic diets. It is found only in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans and peas. Other sources include whole grain breads and brown rice. Dried beans, oat bran, barley, apples, citrus fruits and potatoes all have great advantages for the heart and for healthy cholesterol levels. Fiber supplements such as Metamucil and Fiberall do not appear to achieve the same benefits as natural foods. Glucomannan, however, is helpful in controlling blood glucose levels, cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Protein is another element that is important to take account of in the diabetic diet. Doctors usually recommend that proteins should provide 12% to 20% of the daily calories in a diabetic diet. Still others believe that protein should only make up about 10% of daily calories. It is a general rule that one gram of protein has about four calories in it. In favor of the lower percentage argument, is the fact that reducing proteins may be helpful in slowing the progression of kidney disease. This was made apparent during a 1999 study that showed a reduction in the need for dialysis in patients who had been in danger of kidney failure. Still, a diet that is especially low in protein can cause fatigue and confusion. The best source of protein is probably fish becasue of studies which have shown it to protect lab animals against insulin resistance. It has also been suggested that it reduces the risk of sudden death from heart-rhythm abnormalities. Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, halibut and tuna are especially good.
Fats: there has been quite a lot of debate about the risks and benefits of dietary fat. Not all fats are bad. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and some plants actually help lower cholesterol. Our bodies need some types of fat to function normally. Reducing the consumption of saturated fats and replacing them with fish and plant-based fats maybe one step in managing weight and cholesterol.
To manage these fats it is important to understand both saturated fats and trans fatty acids. Saturated fats are found in animal products and dairy products. Trans-fatty acids are created through a process called hydrogenation. These fats can be found in stick margarine and in fast foods, baked goods and white breads. It should be noted that some fat is necessary for health. The Omega-3 are overwhelmingly considered the best fats around. Polyunsaturated fats however are sometimes beneficial and can be found in sunflower, corn, cottonseed oils and fish. Monounsaturated fats are also sometimes a good choice and can be found in olive, canola, peanut oils and most nuts.
Vitamins and Supplements for Diabetes: Some natural substances have shown promise in scientific studies but the data is limited. Natural supplements which show promise include turmeric, bitter melon, cinnamon and Vitamin E. A small study found that people with Type II diabetes who took supplements of Vitamin E had less inflammation in their blood vessels and therefore were less at risk for heart disease and stroke. Another study suggested that Vitamin E had aided the governing of the heart in people with Type II diabetes. Vitamin E may also help to prevent blood clots and the formation of fatty plaques on the walls of the arteries. It should be noted that Vitamin is not water soluble and build up in the body to toxic levels. People whose diets had high levels of vitamin C have sometimes been considered to be at lower risk for heart disease. There is no scientific evidence, however, that vitamin C offers any actual protection against heart disease.
Weight loss methods for a Type II diabetic should be researched and a weekly exercise program should be enacted. It is important not to make unrealistic goals when first starting out. Keeping tabs on your diet and simply adding a little daily exercise to your routine will make a great deal of difference in the beginning. Once a regular routine is established, then it will be OK to increase the amount of exercise in a daily routine. Patients should always consult a physician when considering a new exercise regimen.
Diabetes Weight Loss
Weight loss becomes a more important issue for certain diabetics but not all diabetic cases are the same. In fact, there really isn’t one diet that meets the needs of every diabetic. A Type II diabetic who is obese AND insulin-resistant will need a different carbohydrate-protein balance than a thin Type I diabetic. It is true that a simple heart-healthy diet with adequate weight control may be enough for Type II diabetics but intricate diets may be necessary for blood sugar control in Type I diabetics. This may also be the case for the more serious cases of Type II. The more complicated and intricate diets may include counting the carbohydrate grams and using a glycemic index to determine glucose levels.
The methods for controlling glucose levels are different for each person. Hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia are the main concerns for patients receiving insulin. It is important, therefore, to monitor blood glucose levels carefully. Patients should aim for a pre-meal level of between 80 and 140 mg/dL. At bedtime, the level should be between 100 and 160. Diabetics who are rigidly controlling these levels will need to check them at least four times a day. The highest risk for hypoglycemia is at nighttime. Bedtime snacks may be helpful in this regard. It is also important to monitor blood glucose levels before driving. Hypoglycemia can be very hazardous on the roads. Diabetic patients often carry hard candy, juice or sugar packets to prevent inconveniences in this area.
In order to achieve the optimum diet, food labels can be used to to determine the number of calories from fat, the amount of nutrients that might be dangerous and the more useful nutrients such as fiber, carbohydrates, protein and vitamins. Labels also indicate the “daily values,” or percentage of a good diet that each person needs. Diabetics are encouraged to weigh out the number of grams in each serving of food before and after cooking the meals. Once a clear idea of the correct amount of each food has been determined, the diabetic will be familiar with each serving and may be able to dispense with the method of weighing out their foods.
It is clear to see that there are numerous considerations for the diabetic patient to take into account when considering diet and weight loss. It is imperative that the diabetic learn everything there is to know about all areas of dieting and not depend on others to tell them what is right and wrong for them to eat. Both dieting and losing weight require a thorough understanding of one’s own personal body and metabolism. The more the diabetic knows, the better he or she will be in maintaining a good level of health. In addition to good nutrition, you may also want to consider traditional herbs for weight loss such as green tea. You can read more on weight loss supplements.