Type 2 diabetes occurs when there is little or lowers insulin production and insulin resistance at the level of insulin receptors of cells in the body. This results in a permanently increased blood glucose level. Inadequate physical activity, inappropriate diets, and obesity are risk factors attributed to type 2 diabetes. Thus having an appropriate meal plan is a necessity as it helps to regulate blood glucose levels. Some healthy diets and dietary patterns are discussed below
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.
This is an excellent diet choice for people with diabetes as it is also known for keeping high blood pressure in check. It is a plant-focused diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes as well as low-fat dairy, lean meat, fish, poultry, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats. It’s easy to follow, healthy for the whole family, and great for weight loss. The fact that this diet has been proven to lower blood pressure is a major bonus since nearly two out of three people with diabetes also have hypertension.
The Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables. This feeding pattern is very nutrient-dense, meaning you get many vitamins, minerals, and other healthful nutrients for every calorie consumed. Lots of fresh, seasonal food, nuts, heart-healthy olive oil, and a little wine make the Mediterranean diet an enjoyable choice for people with diabetes. This type of eating can help with blood sugar control, weight loss, as well as heart disease risk. It is advised to follow the Mediterranean diet working with a dietitian fifty percent of the food in this diet comes from the carbohydrate group. Even though they are healthy carbs, they need to be accounted for throughout the day.
This diet includes a moderate amount of protein and has gained a lot of attention recently. The theory behind this dietary pattern is that our genetic background has not evolved to meet our modern lifestyle of calorically dense convenience foods and limited activity and that returning to a hunter-gatherer way of eating will work better with human physiology. This has been studied in a few small trials and it does seem beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.
The Paleolithic diet is based on Lean meat, fish, fruit, leafy and cruciferous vegetables, root vegetables, eggs, and nuts. Food items such as beans, dairy products, grains of all kinds, refined fats, sugar, candy, soft drinks, beer, and any extra addition of salt are excluded from the Paleolithic diet. Paleolithic diets are said to be lower in total energy, energy density, carbohydrates, dietary glycemic load, fiber, saturated fatty acids, and calcium; but higher in unsaturated fatty acids (good fats), dietary cholesterol, and several vitamins and minerals. Diabetes patients are less hungry, have more stable blood sugar, and feel better with lower carbohydrate diets.
The volumetric diet.
On this plan, you eat lots of water-rich foods including fruits, vegetables, and broth-based soups. Whole grains are also a staple because they are high in fiber which will satisfy you and help keep blood sugar levels stable.
Superfoods are foods that benefit your health beyond providing calories or fats, protein, or carbohydrates. Superfoods may be particularly rich in types of vitamins or other nutrients that are uniquely beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.
Chia is a type of seed that provides fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. Chia is a superfood because it brings down the glycemic load of any meal, increases satiety, and stabilizes blood sugar. Adding Chia to your breakfast will help keep you full longer. The primary type of fiber in Chia is soluble fiber. Soluble fibers turn to a gel when mixed with water. This makes chia seeds excellent in baking and cooking when thickener is needed. Chia mixed with almond milk, cocoa and a low-glycemic index sweetener like agave or stevia makes an excellent healthy pudding.
Salmon is a type 2 diabetes superfood because salmon is a great source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. There are differences in the fatty acids in wild vs farmed salmon. This is because of what the fish eats. Wild salmon eat smaller fishes and live in colder waters, which causes them to develop a higher ratio of anti-inflammatory omega-3 to saturated fats in their meat. Farmed fish are up to 10 times higher in persistent organic pollutants, antibiotics, and other contaminants. These harmful chemicals are pro-inflammatory and have been associated with an increased risk of cancer and heart disease.
White balsamic vinegar.
The superfood vinegar is best consumed as vinaigrette dressing on your salad, but it has beneficial effects no matter how you enjoy it. Vinegar slows gastric emptying, which has several beneficial effects for people with type 2 diabetes. This slows the glucose release into the bloodstream, allowing for a small, steady insulin response instead of a large insulin surge. Vinegar also increases satiety, so if you enjoy a salad with vinaigrette as your first course, you are less likely to overeat during the main course.
Cinnamon lowers the blood glucose level in people with type 2 diabetes, and it has been well researched and found to be beneficial at doses of about 1 teaspoon/day.
- Cinnamon lowers both fasting and postprandial (after meals) blood sugar levels.
- It is easy to add to any dietary pattern.
- Cinnamon can be sprinkled on oatmeal.
- It also is tasty added to coffee!
Its high polyphenol content also has added benefits in preventing health complications.
Lentils are a superfood because they contain important vitamins, have great protein, and have lots of fiber. Lentils are rich in:
- other minerals, and
- B vitamins such as folate.
Lentils have a great balance of protein and complex carbohydrates (high in fiber) and are very versatile to cook with.
- The green and brown ones stay firm when cooked and are delicious in a salad.
- The orange ones get soft when cooked, making them well suited in Indian soups, curries,
Types of foods recommended for type 2 diabetes patients.
Diabetic diets follow varied patterns, depending on the individual. Meal plans can follow different ratios of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. It is advisable that:
- The carbohydrates consumed should be low glycemic load and come primarily from vegetables.
- The fat and proteins consumed should primarily come from plant sources.
Glycemic index and load.
Carbohydrates are the primary food that raises blood sugar. Glycemic index and glycemic load are used to measure the impact of carbohydrates on blood sugar.
- Foods with low glycemic load (index) raise blood sugar modestly and thus are better choices for people with diabetes.
- The main factors that determine a food’s glycemic load are the amount of fiber, fat, and protein it contains.
- The difference between glycemic index and glycemic load is that the glycemic index is a standardized measurement and glycemic load accounts for the real-life portion size.
Carbohydrates can be classified as either
- complex carbohydrates, or
- simple sugars.
Complex carbohydrates: They are low glycemic load foods. Complex carbohydrates are part of type 2 diabetes low-carbohydrate diet plans. They are in their whole food form and include additional nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and smaller amounts of proteins and fats. These additional nutrients slow down glucose absorption and keep blood sugar levels more stable. Examples of complex carbohydrates or low glycemic load (index) foods include Brown rice, whole wheat, vegetables, fruits, beans, and lentils.
Simple carbohydrates: These are high glycemic load foods, and are not part of a type 2 diabetes diet plan because they raise blood sugar levels. Simple carbohydrates are mostly processed foods and do not contain other nutrients to slow down sugar absorption. Thus these foods can raise blood sugar extremely fast. High glycemic index foods that should not be included in your diet include Sugar, white pasta, white bread, flour, cookies, pastries, soft drinks, and watermelon.
Recommended types of fat.
Fats have a little direct effect on blood sugar, but they slow down the absorption of carbohydrates. Fats also have effects on health that are not related to blood sugar. For example:
- Animal meat fats increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, dairy, and specifically fermented dairy such as yogurt, appears to decrease this risk.
- Plant-based fats such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado are associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk.
- Fat also contributes to feelings of satiety and can play a role in managing overeating and carbohydrate cravings.
The recommended type of proteins.
Protein provides energy slowly and steadily, with comparatively little effect on blood sugar. Protein, especially plant-based protein, should always be part of a meal. Proteins also help with sugar cravings and satiety (feeling full after eating). Proteins can come from both animal or plant sources; however, animal sources may also be sources of unhealthy saturated fats. Some healthy choices if proteins include: Beans, eggs, lean meat, and fish
What types of diet or meal plans are recommended for people with type 2 diabetes?
Multiple beneficial patterns have been designed for diabetes patients. Patients can choose which pattern works for them because they have been found effective. There are however some general modalities that must be followed by all patients. These include:
- An abundance of vegetables
- limiting processed sugars and red meat.
Which foods should be avoided in a type 2 diabetes meal plan?
Dietary restrictions for type 2 diabetes patients include:
- Sodas: both sugar-sweetened regular soda and diet soda raise blood sugar
- Artificial sweeteners
- Refined sugars (donuts, pastries, cakes, cookies, scones, sweets, candy)
- Processed carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, chips)
- Trans fats (anything with the word hydrogenated on the label) such as butter, some mayonnaise, and some salad dressings.
- High-fat animal products (red meat, fatty cuts of pork, bacon, sausage)
- High-fat dairy products (whole milk, cream, cheese, ice cream)
- High fructose corn syrup (in soda, candy, packaged convenience food)
Can diabetes patients drink alcohol?
For most people with type 2 diabetes, the general guideline for moderate alcohol consumption applies. Research shows that one drink per day for women and two a day for men reduces cardiovascular risk and doesn’t have a negative impact on diabetes. However, alcohol can lower blood sugar, and people with type 2 diabetes who are prone to hypoglycemia (such as those using insulin) should be aware of delayed hypoglycemia.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) advocates for a healthy diet with an emphasis on balancing energy intake with exercise. Historically, they have advocated for the majority of calories coming from complex carbohydrates from whole grains such as whole-grain bread and other whole-grain cereal products and a decreased intake of total fat with most of it coming from unsaturated fat.
Recently, this has shifted to acknowledge that there is no one ideal macronutrient ratio and that dietary plans should be individualized. ADA guidelines advocate:
- Low glycemic load
- Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages including soda
- The importance of fat quality as well as quantity