Type 2 diabetes is a chronic medical condition that affects how the body metabolizes glucose (sugar). With type 2 diabetes, the body either does not produce the correct amount of insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels, or experiences insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that the body uses to move glucose into your cells for energy.
Type 2 diabetes often develops slowly over a period of years. One can have type 2 diabetes without knowing it for years. The symptoms of type 2 diabetes include frequent urination, weight changes, increased thirst, increased hunger, blurred vision, frequent infection, dark skin at the armpits and neck, slow healing, and fatigue.
Foods for Type 2 Diabetes
Although there is no cure for type 2 diabetes, you can manage this chronic disease by managing stress, getting plenty of exercise, and eating a healthy diet. There are several foods for type 2 diabetes that that should be considered to help you control glucose levels.
Beans, including black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, and pinto beans can help you manage blood sugar levels. Beans provide the body with plant based protein and complex carbohydrates. Beans decrease the speed of digestion, thus preventing spikes in glucose levels. The fiber found in beans can help reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome. Finally, beans are considered a low glycemic index food and help to improve glucose readings.
Citrus fruits, including grapefruits, lemons, and oranges provide antidiabetic protection. Citrus fruits allow one to maximize your vitamin and mineral consumption without excess carbohydrates. Citrus fruits contain folate, potassium, and vitamin C. In addition to this, oranges have two bioflavonoid antioxidants (naringin and hesperidin) which provide antidiabetic properties. Just be cautious of citrus juices as they often contain high amounts of sugar. Stick to one piece of fruit instead.
Fatty fish like trout, mackerel, tuna, sardines, herring, and salmon contain omega 3 fatty acids, including EPA and DHA. These healthy fats help control blood sugar levels and lipids. For those looking for a plant based alternative for omega 3 fatty acids, seaweed products, including spirulina and kelp, increase omega 3 fatty acids. These healthy fats help to decrease systemic inflammation, decrease insulin resistance, and reduce glucose levels naturally.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables, including kale, spinach, bok choy, collard greens, and cabbage are packed with essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. These filling vegetables do not negatively impact glucose levels. Instead, they provide the body with fiber and protein to slow down digestion and minimize blood sugar spikes. Additionally, leafy green vegetables are high in calcium, vitamin A, and potassium. Research has shown that eating green leafy vegetables helps improve blood sugar levels thanks to their high antioxidant content and the naturally occurring digestive enzymes found in green leafy veggies.
Studies have shown that kale juice can help regulate glucose levels and improve blood pressure readings. Include leafy green vegetables into your meals via salads, side dishes, and soups for a diabetic healthy side dish.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are found in the gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics help improve your overall health and enhance digestion naturally. Probiotics are found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt. Those suffering from type 2 diabetes can help improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Probiotic foods reduce oxidative stress, systemic inflammation, and may help increase insulin sensitivity. When looking for a probiotic supplement, find one that contains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria live and active cultures.
Sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes, making them a great choice for those suffering from diabetes. Sweet potatoes release glucose more slowly and do not elevate glucose levels as much as white potatoes do. Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Sweet potatoes can be enjoyed baked, fried, roasted, mashed, or boiled.
Whole grains like brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, rye, quinoa, and whole grain breads have a lower glycemic index than white bread and white rice. Unlike refined white grains, whole grains provide more nutrients and fiber. Fiber slows down digestion naturally and helps keep glucose levels stable. Whole grains also help scrub the intestinal tract, thus improve nutrient absorption and reducing inflammation which can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Eating certain foods can help you manage your type 2 diabetes. Enjoying a diet filled with fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins can significantly improve your blood sugar levels. In addition to enjoying certain foods, there are foods that should be limited. These foods have a high glycemic index and increase blood sugar levels. If you will be enjoying one of these items, pair them with a protein like beans to reduce the impact that the high glycemic index foods have on your body. Some of the top foods to avoid include:
- White bread
- White rice
- White Potatoes
- Sugary drinks
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, prediabetes, or gestational diabetes, we can help. Our team of integrative practitioners understands how food impacts your blood sugar levels. Give us a call to learn how we can help you control your glucose levels through a customized diet developed especially for you by our integrative specialists specializing in diabetes management.