For a diabetic, healthy eating is critical.
To understand why you should consume certain foods and not consume others, it helps to first understand what diabetes is, and how it manifests in the body.
Science Behind Diabetes:
Type II diabetes happens when an individual’s blood sugar level (blood glucose level) rises too much.
Lets take a step back.
Your body and brain rely on glucose and ketones for energy. While ketones can be converted into glucose, glucose comes primarily from carbohydrates, and ketones from fats (fatty acids).
Insulin is the hormone that allows cells to absorb glucose.
Insulin resistance is a main feature of type II diabetes.
For type II diabetes patients, this is often from consuming foods high on the glycemix index. To deal with the excessive flood of glucose into the body, the hormone insulin is dispatched to deliver the insulin to cells. The body can’t deal with the sudden flood of glucose and insulin, and it develops resistance to the insulin. Blood glucose levels then skyrocket.
Diabetic Healthy Eating: Meal Plan
Foods/Drinks to be Avoided:
- As Michael Pollan says in the documentary In Defense of Food, sugary drinks are one of the largest drivers of diabetes. Thus, avoiding sugary fruit juices that spike insulin levels, like orange/pineapple juice, and especially soda, is critical.
- Food with a high glycemic index; any sort of processed sugary foods/drinks, in addition to potatoes, white rice, and white bread. Don’t have a cheat day either: reintroducing glucose-heavy foods on a ketogenic diet is extremely dangerous (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190327112657.htm)
- Avoid eating from plastic containers. We recommend this for many reasons, but mainly because many chemicals involved in the making of plastic containers are obesogens. Obesogens trigger epigenetic alterations in gene expression. In simpler words, these chemicals predispose the body to produce more fat cells that lead to weight gain and diabetes.
- Nuts (without vegetable oils)
- Vegetables without starch (kale, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots)
- Oatmeal, whole wheat/pumpernickel bread (low GI)
- Water is best! Acceptable accessory drinks include coconut milk and tea (we love green tea).
- Fruit is king- fruits with especially low GI’s include cherries, pears, apples, and strawberries.
Diabetic Healthy Eating: Supporting Literature:
It’s fairly clear that the recommended and discouraged foods above make up a ketogenic-like diet (avoiding white carbs primarily).
This is because many recent studies demonstrate the effectiveness of ketogenic diets in managing and reversing type II diabetes.
Researchers claim a ketogenic diet is beneficial because once the body is in ketosis and starved for glucose (preferred energy source), the body’s chemistry changes and it starts aggressively burning its fat stores. This leads to weight loss and can reverse the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes.
- “The ketogenic diet substantially reduces the glycemic response that results from dietary carbohydrate as well as improves the underlying insulin resistance” – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30289048
- “These cases demonstrate the efficacy of KDs in terms of improving glycemic control in DM2 patients and lend support to the increased use of KDs in this population cohort” – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6408197/
- “The ketogenic diet has several benefits on the management of type two diabetes. These benefits include thereduction of HbA1c level, weight loss, and improvement of lipid profile, cardiac benefits, reversibility of nephropathy and even possible effect on reversing diabetic neuropathy andretinopathy”-https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sami_Azar/publication/312362362_Benefits_of_Ketogenic_Diet_for_Management_of_Type_Two_Diabetes_A_Review/links/58d145f492851ce355c02534/Benefits-of-Ketogenic-Diet-for-Management-of-Type-Two-Diabetes-A-Review.pdf
- “Individuals with type 2 diabetes improved their glycemic control and lost more weight after being randomized to a very low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet and lifestyle online program rather than a conventional, low-fat diabetes diet online program”- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5329646/
Diabetes and Alzheimer’s:
As mentioned above, individuals with diabetes are at higher risk for other diseases, including Alzheimer’s, stroke, and kidney disease.
Certain researchers speculate that the diabetes-Alzheimer’s link is partly related to the enzyme IDE (insulin-degrading enzyme). IDE, as its name suggests, is responsible for regulating insulin levels in the body, as well as reducing amyloid plaque buildup in the brain. Amyloid plaque buildup is believed to be a central feature of Alzheimer’s disease.
When a diabetic’s blood glucose levels are elevated, thus causing insulin floods and shortly thereafter insulin resistance, IDE’s are too busy dealing with the dangerously high levels of insulin to reduce amyloid plaque buildup (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gene/3416 ).
Diabetes and Time-Restricted Eating (TRE):
More and more research is coming out supporting ketogenic diets and intermittent fasting for diabetic healthy eating.
Just the other day, the University of Adelaide published a study on the effects of time-restricted eating (TRE) on blood glucose levels in men at risk of Type II diabetes. The researchers observed that “blood glucose response to a standard meal was assessed each day of the study. The investigators found that TRE improved glucose control, regardless of when the men chose to stop eating” (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190424153634.htm). The study participants either ate from 8 am-5 pm, or midday to 9 pm.
Try out this form of fasting for yourself and compare your blood glucose levels before and after incorporating TRE. We’d be surprised if your blood glucose levels didn’t improve!
Image reference: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317769.php