Diabetes Dietary Guidelines at a Glance
Most people with diabetes are aware that diet has an impact on their disease, regardless of whether traditional doctors give much attention to this area. However, the information on what to eat or not eat can be extensive and confusing.
Below are some overall guidelines that I give clients with or without diabetes that I feel are helpful in moving towards strong health, an ideal weight and the potential reversal of many health conditions, diseases and illnesses. Although an article can and has been written on each area alone, I’ve summarized some of the most important points for each. For some it will be a review and for others, possibly an opportunity to learn something new.
Foods in their natural state, unprocessed and containing no artificial or chemically altered additives, are by far the healthiest foods to eat. These include fruits, vegetable (plant and sea), nuts, seeds, whole grains, lean meats, fish and in my opinion only raw dairy products if one chooses to consume them at all. As much as possible, these foods should be organic and in-season and come from reliable trustworthy sources. Superfoods such as goji berries, raw cacao, bee pollen, maca, and spirulina are some commonly known powerful and nutrient-rich foods that can also be included in the diet for optimal health.
Consuming more rich leafy greens in your diet is one of the easiest and most important dietary changes you can make. Chlorophyll, the primary nutrient in greens, has the power to purify our blood, improve blood circulation and lower blood pressure, detoxify and prevent bacterial growth, promote healthy intestinal flora, benefit liver function, naturally deodorize the body and help fight disease by counteracting inflammatory conditions. Examples of some of the most nutritious greens include kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, cabbage, mustard greens, spinach, arugula and bok choy. Broccoli and mixed greens are also good choices. Variety and eating greens in their raw form at least some of the time are important considerations in maximizing the value that these nutrient-rich plants can provide.
Although excessive consumption of carbohydrates that have been processed and refined can be one of the leading causes of type II diabetes, low glycemic, complex, whole grains such as buckwheat, amaranth, millet, brown rice, quinoa and kamut are ideal choices for those with a stable inner physiology. Each contains many key nutritional properties that can be helpful in both the prevention and management of diabetes, overeating, low energy, poor immunity and disease.
Although diabetics are encouraged to avoid or limit fats and especially saturated fats from animal products, experts are now telling us that coconut oil is one fat that can safely help regulate blood glucose levels and protect against insulin resistance. Another great source of fat comes from raw nuts and seeds as these monounsaturated fats are said to help improve insulin sensitivity. Extra virgin olive oil, nut and seed oils (walnut, flax, hemp, almond, sunflower, sesame), coconuts and avocados are other sources of healthy fats.
Low-Glycemic Index Foods
The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking that lets us know the effects a particular food will have on our blood glucose levels. In contrast to high GI foods, low GI foods result in a gradual rise in blood sugar and a slower digestion process, which satisfies the body’s nutritional needs and alleviates the immediate desire to eat more. Although fruits have a lot of great nutritional properties, those with diabetes should be aware that many (with the exception of some berries) can cause a blood sugar spike which should be avoided in the early stages of a dietary transformation. This is also true for sweet vegetables such as carrots, squash, beets, etc.
This is an obvious one for those with diabetes, but a less one for those that believe sugar in moderation (a definition that varies from person to person) is risk free. On average, we consume 135-150 pounds of sugar per year, an amount that was unheard of at the turn of the 20th century. Refined sugar is detrimental to our health and is one of the main culprits behind obesity and insulin resistance diseases. It is also a contributor to premature aging, autoimmune disorders, gallstones, appendicitis, cancer, hyperactivity, gastrointestinal problems, Candida, hemorrhoids, osteoporosis, and many other health problems.
Limited Animal Products
As most know, excessive animal protein consumption can lead to or contribute to high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and many other conditions and diseases. This is partly due to its high saturated fat content, but also the hormones, antibiotics, growth stimulants, tranquilizers and other drugs used according to today’s mass production standards. There are also a number of viruses and bacteria that can be passed from livestock to humans as well as overall health risks associated with the preservatives used to extend shelf life. In my opinion, even the inhumane mistreatment of animals can energetically impact our health and wellbeing. When consuming animal products, minimize these risks by choosing clean, reliable sources of meat, dairy and eggs.
Raw-live foods (nothing cooked above 112°F (44°C) remain in their complete form offering the highest content of enzymes, vitamins and phytonutrients. They are also said to benefit energy levels, skin, digestion, excess weight and help reduce heart disease. Although some choose to eat mostly raw foods on a regular basis with varying opinions on the amount one should consume, a diet consisting of 50% or more raw, uncooked foods in their nutrient-rich “live” state, can improve your health substantially. Raw plant foods include vegetables, sprouts, seeds, nuts, grains, beans, dried fruit and sea vegetables. Foods cooked using a low temperature dehydrator are also considered to be in their raw form.