The Basics Of The Type 2 Diabetes Diet: What Should You Eat
To follow a healthy diet for diabetes, you must first understand how different foods affect your blood sugar. Carbohydrates, which are found to the largest degree in grains, bread, pasta, milk, sweets, fruit, and starchy vegetables, are broken down into glucose in the blood, which raises blood sugar, potentially leading to hyperglycemiaaccording to the Mayo Clinic. Protein and fats have little, if any, impact blood sugar, notes a past review. However, both should be consumed in moderation along with carbs to keep calories down and weight in a healthy range.
To hit your blood sugar level target, eat a variety of foods but monitor portions for foods with a high carbohydrate content, says Alison Massey, RD, a certified diabetes educator in Frederick, Maryland. have the most impact on blood sugar level. This is why some people with diabetes count their carbohydrates at meals and snacks, she says.
What Is The A1c Test
The A1C test is a simple blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels over the past 2 or 3 months. The test is done at a lab or your doctors office in addition tonot instead ofregular blood sugar testing you do yourself.
A1C testing is part of the ABCs of diabetesimportant steps you can take to prevent or delay health complications down the road:
- A: Get a regular A1C test.
- B: Try to keep your blood pressure below 140/90 mm Hg .
- C: Manage your cholesterol levels.
- s: Stop smoking or dont start.
The A1C goal for most adults with diabetes is between 7% and 8%, but your goal may be different depending on your age, other health conditions, medicines youre taking, and other factors. Work with your doctor to establish a personal A1C goal for you.
What Are The Recommended Targets For Blood Glucose Levels
Many people with diabetes aim to keep their blood glucose at these normal levels:
- Before a meal: 80 to 130 mg/dL
- About 2 hours after a meal starts: less than 180 mg/dL
Talk with your health care team about the best target range for you. Be sure to tell your health care professional if your glucose levels often go above or below your target range.
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Sugars In The Food Supply
The packaged foods available today are sweeter than before. According to Basu et al., sugar supply has risen across the globe from an average of 218 kilocalories per person per day in 1960 to over 280 kilocalories per person per day by 2013. Assuming a food wastage rate of 30%, these consumed calories exceed the recommended daily upper limit of 150 kilocalories per man and 100 kilocalories per woman by the American Heart Association. Much of this is in the form of high fructose corn syrup within SSBs however, added sugar is found throughout the food supply .
Diabetes Care From Home
There are several strategies for healthy eating for people with diabetes, including:
- The Plate Method: At every meal, divide a nine-inch plate into three sections: half of your plate should contain non-starchy vegetables , one quarter of your plate should contain lean protein , and the final quarter should contain grains or starchy vegetables .
- The Glycemic Index : This measures how quickly foods can cause your blood sugar to rise when eaten. Using the GI can help you prioritize foods that do not cause blood sugar spikes.
No two peoples health and health goals are the same. The best and most effective way to limit your sugar intake in a sustainable way is to work with your healthcare provider and/or a registered dietitian to ensure youre eating an optimized diet for you and your body.
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How To Get Started
The single best tip is go slowly. If you are used to a diet high in sugar you will find it hard to cut it out all at once, making it more likely you will cave and soon be reaching for that chocolate. Start by identifying where you consume the most sugar is it soft drinks, in hot drinks, sugary snacks or a nightly dessert? Then, cut out just one of these things at a time until your diet is 100% sugar free. Depending on your level of consumption, give yourself one to two months to achieve this.
Is Fruit Ok For People With Diabetes
You may have heard that you need to avoid certain fruits or fruits altogether if you have diabetes due to their sugar content. However, this is not true. Whole, fresh fruit contains many beneficial nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
While whole fruits contain sugar, it is a natural sugar and brings all the other good-for-you nutrients. Therefore, fruit is a nutrient-dense food group that can be included as part of a healthy diabetes diet.
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Prediabetes Flies Under The Radar
You can have prediabetes for years without symptoms. This means you likely wont know you have prediabetes until serious health problems show up. Talk to your doctor about getting your blood sugar tested if you have any of the risk factors for prediabetes, including:
- Being overweight
- Being 45 years or older
- Having a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes
- Being physically active less than 3 times a week
- Ever having gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
Race and ethnicity are also a factor. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at higher risk.
Ready to find out your risk? Take the 1-minute prediabetes risk test and be sure to share the results with your doctor.
Use Insulin If You Need It
Depending on the type and severity of your diabetes, you may take insulin to help manage it. After eating excess sugar and experiencing hyperglycemia, you may require insulin to help your blood sugar stabilize. However, this is unique to every individual. The type of insulin, dosage, and time of dosage is different for everyone. You must consult with your doctor or endocrinologist about your specific insulin needs, and follow the recommendation they provide you. If dosed and used correctly, insulin helps to stabilize the blood sugar after eating too much sugar.
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Why Is Sugar So Bad For You
Sugar is a naturally-occurring carbohydrate thats found in many fruits, dairy, grains, and even vegetables. Consuming these whole foods that naturally have sugar is fine because they are also full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants that are important for a well-rounded diet.
These healthy foods also slow down the digestion of the sugar/carbohydrates, providing a steady stream of energy, without the crash. They also keep you fuller for longer, as many fruits and vegetables have high water content as well.
The main issue with sugar is when its found in processed foods with added sugar. The sugar found in an apple is very different from the sugar found in an ice-cream sundae, and your body can tell the difference.
In the typical American diet, the top sources of added sugar are found in soft drinks , fruit drinks, flavored yogurts, cereals, cookies, cakes, candy, and other processed foods .
In short: Americans are eating way too much added sugar and its wreaking havoc on our health.
The average American eats around 22.2 teaspoons of added sugar per day! Thats the equivalent of 355 extra calories. And those calories are empty .
Its recommended that women have no more than 100 calories of added sugar per day and men have no more than 150 calories of added sugar per day, but less is always better because sugar is not a necessary nutrient in any diet.
A Small Amount Of Sugar Is Safe For People With Diabetes
There is no evidence that a diet high in sugar directly causes either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. However, being overweight or obese is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and perhaps someone who is overweight might also eat a lot of sugar.
Early evidence shows that some people with type 2 diabetes who are overweight and recently diagnosed can reverse type 2 diabetes if they are able to achieve significant weight loss.In the past, people with diabetes were told to avoid eating all foods containing refined sugar. This was because it was believed the sugar would have a bad effect on their blood glucose levels. However, more recent research on the glycaemic index has shown that sugar affects blood glucose levels less than some other more starchy foods, like refined bread and breakfast cereal.People with diabetes can have a small amount of sugar in their diet. If you are adding sugar, it is best to add it to healthier foods such as wholegrain breads and cereals. For example, adding 2 teaspoons of regular jam spread on wholegrain bread, or a sprinkle of sugar on your porridge is okay.People with diabetes should limit or avoid foods in which the main ingredient is sugar, such as sweets and cakes. It is also important to maintain a healthy weight to manage diabetes.
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Why Is Sugar An Important Factor For People With Diabetes
Some people may worry that eating sugar will lead to diabetes, but diabetes is much more complex. Plus, your body does need some sugar to function. According to the National Institutes of Health, one type of sugar called glucose is an important source of fuel for your body and your brain.
The sugar in your body comes, in part, from carbohydrates. After you eat, your body breaks down the food you eat as youre digesting, which sends glucose into your bloodstream.
Simple carbohydrates like candy or fruit break down quickly, sending a quick burst of sugar into your bloodstream. More complex carbohydrates like pasta break down more slowly and deliver a steadier dose of sugar over time.
If you dont have diabetes, your pancreas will respond to the influx of sugar by releasing a hormone called insulin, which works to move that sugar out of your blood and into your cells to use as fuel.
However, if you have diabetes, your pancreas may not respond by producing enough insulin to do the job. The sugar can build up in your bloodstream, which can eventually damage your blood vessels and cause other complications.
Its Not Just Sugar: Other Diabetes Risk Factors To Consider
Although this newfound knowledge on sugar, and specifically added sugar, may prompt you to ditch the soda, juice, and processed foods, be mindful of the other factors that can similarly influence your risk for type 2 diabetes. Obesity, a family history of diabetes, a personal history of heart disease, and depression, for instance, are other predictors for the disease, according to the NIH.
People who exercise fewer than three times a week, and women whove been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, or diabetes that develops while a woman is pregnant, also have an increased chance of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Furthermore, certain ethnic groups, including American Indians, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Hispanics, are more likely to get diabetes than white people a phenomenon researchers have attributed to lifestyle factors and genetics.
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Does Sugar Cause Diabetes Fact Vs Fiction
Since diabetes is a disease characterized by high blood sugar levels, many people wonder whether eating sugar can cause it.
While its true that eating large amounts of added sugar may increase your risk of diabetes, sugar intake is just one piece of the puzzle.
Many other factors including overall diet, lifestyle and genetics also impact your risk.
This article reviews sugars role in developing diabetes and provides tips for preventing the disease.
How Much Sugar Can A Person With Diabetes Have
Type 2 diabetes affects around 415 million people around the world. When not properly managed, type 2 diabetes can pose significant health risks, including an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and death.
The American Diabetes Association reports that there is strong evidence to support the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of nutrition therapy as part of the medical management of diabetes. Nutritional therapy aims to help people with diabetes maintain their glycemic targets, achieve their weight management goals, and improve their cardiovascular risk factors and overall quality of life.
Importantly, nutritional therapy is not a one-size-fits-all solution and should be tailored to suit an individuals lifestyle, medical history, health goals, and socioeconomic environment. Put simply, how much sugar a person with diabetes can have varies from individual to individual. What matters is that they eat a balanced and healthy diet, and in most cases, keep track of their total carbohydrate intake.
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Carbohydrates And Blood Sugar
When people eat a food containing carbohydrates, the digestive system breaks down the digestible ones into sugar, which enters the blood.
- As blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that prompts cells to absorb blood sugar for energy or storage.
- As cells absorb blood sugar, levels in the bloodstream begin to fall.
- When this happens, the pancreas start making glucagon, a hormone that signals the liver to start releasing stored sugar.
- This interplay of insulin and glucagon ensure that cells throughout the body, and especially in the brain, have a steady supply of blood sugar.
Carbohydrate metabolism is important in the development of type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body cant make enough insulin or cant properly use the insulin it makes.
- Type 2 diabetes usually develops gradually over a number of years, beginning when muscle and other cells stop responding to insulin. This condition, known as insulin resistance, causes blood sugar and insulin levels to stay high long after eating. Over time, the heavy demands made on the insulin-making cells wears them out, and insulin production eventually stops.
Is Diabetes Hereditary
Many people are concerned if diabetes can be passed down from a parent to a child. Dr. Choudhary explains that genetics can play a role, but that role depends on the type of diabetes. Some ethnicities are more likely to get diabetes than others. However, nutrition and weight play a much larger role in determining if a child develops type 2 diabetes.
“In a family, people eat the same food,” says Dr. Choudhary. “If parents have type 2 diabetes and eat an unhealthy diet, their kids may get it too because they are eating the same food.”
In type 1 diabetes, genetics do play a role, though it’s not fully understood yet. If your family has a history of autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, lupus or Hashimoto’s disease, your child is at a higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
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Agave Syrup And Nectar
Produced in South America and Mexico from agave plants, agave nectar is sweeter than honey, though less viscous, whilst agave syrup is thicker and darker. Agave nectars are typically sold in light, amber, dark, and raw varieties. The light nectar is mild in flavour and is therefore ideal for delicate dishes or beverages, whereas the amber and dark varieties have a stronger, caramel taste, making them lovely as a honey or sugar substitute on pancakes, in desserts, for use in baking and even in sauces with poultry, meat and seafood dishes.
Are Sugar Substitutes Okay For People With Diabetes
Because type 2 diabetes is linked to high levels of sugar in the blood, it may seem logical to assume that eating too much sugar is the cause of the disease. But of course, its not that simple. This has been around for years, this idea that eating too much sugar causes diabetes but the truth is, type 2 diabetes is a multifactorial disease with many different types of causes, says Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDE, a nutrition coach in Prescott, Arizona, and a medical reviewer for Everyday Health. Type 2 diabetes is really complex.
That said, some research does suggest that eating too many sweetened foods can affect type 2 diabetes risk, and with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating that 30.3 million Americans have the disease and that millions of more individuals are projected to develop it, too understanding all the risk factors for the disease, including sugar consumption, is essential to help reverse the diabetes epidemic.
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What Is The Mechanism Behind Sugar And Diabetes Risk
Weve already seen that overweight or obesity are risk factors for type 2 diabetes and that eating too much sugar may contribute to this.
We’ve also mentioned that eating fructose can lead to the production of uric acid. Some scientists have linked this to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is when your cells dont respond appropriately to insulin it is a risk factor for diabetes.
But there are other ways the sugar in your diet could increase your risk of diabetes, especially when it comes to fructose.
In one study, two groups of people with overweight or obesity drank sweetened drinks containing either glucose or fructose, which made up 25% of their daily calorie intake.
After 10 weeks, participants had gained similar amounts of weight, and those who had consumed drinks containing glucose saw an almost 10% increase in their triglyceride levels.
But those who had consumed the fructose drinks experienced a whole range of changes linked to a greater risk of type 2 diabetes.
These included increases in:
fatty acid production, which is linked to fatty liver disease
Glucose, the sugar that enters your bloodstream after you eat or drink, also has a part to play in diabetes risk.
Thats because sugary foods and drinks as well as refined carbohydrates like white bread and pasta can cause larger spikes and crashes in blood sugar.
You can take ZOEs free quiz to learn more about how your body responds to sugar.