When it comes to chronic diseases, there are few that offer you the opportunity to make an appreciable, and significant, difference in how it progresses. But with Type 2 diabetes, your lifestyle can change the course of the disease. With some changes to your diet, you can head off potentially life-altering and even life-threatening complications.
At St. Rose Integrative Medical Center, we’re devoted to helping our patients in Henderson, Nevada, avoid the often irreversible damage that comes with nerve damage, also called neuropathy. For diabetics of all kinds, including Type 2 diabetes, neuropathy is a clear and present danger and one that needs to be approached from every angle, starting with managing your disease. And one of the best ways to do that is to watch what you eat.
Here’s a look at some of the best, and some of the worst, foods for controlling Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes at a glance
If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you or a loved has been diagnosed with diabetes, which can be a frightening turn of events. But rather than feeling hopeless in the face of a chronic disease, we want to emphasize that there are many ways you can still take charge of your health.
In a nutshell, Type 2 diabetes affects how you regulate the levels of sugar in your blood, leaving you with chronic problems because of a glucose buildup. This problem comes on the heels of either an insufficiency in insulin production or building up a resistance to insulin — the hormone responsible for controlling your blood sugar — or both.
How you arrived at Type 2 diabetes may have been through your food choices, so it’s a great place to start to better control your outcomes.
Out with the old
Let’s first start with some of the worst foods you can eat. When we say worst, we mean that these foods will cause spikes in your blood sugar levels. These should be avoided so you don’t overtax a system that already has difficulty processing glucose.
The American love affair with sweetened drinks tops the list of dietary don’ts for diabetics. Whether it’s a sweetened iced tea or a can of soda, these drinks are loaded with sugars, including fructose, which is thought to increase insulin resistance. Even unsweetened fruit juices are suspect, as they still contain considerable amounts of natural sugars.
Next on the list of no-nos are processed foods full of carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta, and white rice. While your body relies on carbs for fuel, these processed carbs can raise your blood sugar levels more quickly, and dangerously.
You’d also do well to eliminate flavored yogurts and many cereals from your breakfast routine. These foods may claim to be healthy, but in reality they’re chock full of carbs, including sugars.
Lastly, sugary snacks of any kind aren’t doing you any favors. Since diabetes is caused by your body’s inability to process sugar, you need to be mindful of how much you take in at all times. Cookies, cakes, candy, and other sweets are loaded with sugar, and not much else, so steer clear of these diabetic landmines.
And in with the new
The good news for people with diabetes is that there are lots of foods that give you the energy you need without loading up your bloodstream with sugar.
Since we started with drinks up top, we’d like to suggest that you substitute your sodas and sweetened drinks with a healthy dose of H2O. There’s very little that water doesn’t help when it comes to your health, so be sure to drink plenty of it. If you miss the effervescent bubbles of your soft drink, opt for unsweetened bubbly water.
When it comes time to snack, reach for a handful of nuts instead of a bag of chips. Nuts of all kinds, including almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and cashews, are high in fiber and low in carbs.
Come lunch or dinner time, a plateful of fatty fish and leafy greens will deliver a powerful nutrient punch and boost your health in innumerable ways. On the surf side of your plate, try salmon, mackerel, anchovies, or sardines. On the garden side, try spinach and kale.
If you want a more substantial vegetable, try broccoli or squash, which are extremely healthy foods because of their high nutritional content and low calories.
Rounding out your meal, if you have a sweet tooth, go with dark chocolate of 85% cacao or higher. It doesn’t take much of this rich chocolate to satisfy your craving, and chocolate with more cacao is lower in sugar and full of healthy antioxidants. A small dish of berries or melon is another diabetes-friendly dessert option.
By making changes in your diet, you can not only control your Type 2 diabetes better, your overall health will benefit, allowing you to lead a healthy, active life long into the future.
For more detailed nutritional recommendations, please feel free to give us a call or set up an appointment using the online scheduling tool.