Diet for Diabetics: The Importance of Nutrition in Diabetes Treatment

diabetic health foods

Story at-a-glance -

  • Dietary recommendations for this disease are usually individualized according to a variety of factors, including your diabetes type, medical history, cultural preferences and lifestyle, among others
  • For people with Type 1 diabetes, the diet plan is aimed to promote meal timing, since it’s extremely important for patients to match their meals with their insulin doses
  • People with Type 2 diabetes should create a diet plan that focuses on foods that do not adversely affect the glucose levels

Nutrition plays a significant role in the etiology and treatment of diabetes mellitus,1 which is why it's important for patients  to take their dietary needs seriously.

Over the past years, there have been significant changes in the nutritional recommendations for diabetes patients. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) once recommended an 1,800-calorie diet for diabetics, which is no longer encouraged, as researchers have acknowledged that every person has different dietary needs.

Now, the dietary recommendations for this disease are usually individualized according to a variety of factors, including your diabetes type, medical history, cultural preferences and lifestyle, among other things.

This allows you to follow a diet plan that's more flexible and suitable for your needs. In addition to complying with the recommended diet, you should also be aware of the general dietary guidelines for diabetes in order to manage their condition more easily.2

The Benefits of a Proper Diet to the Prognosis of Diabetes

The recommended diet from a registered dietitian, along with the general nutritional guidelines for diabetes, may help promote healthy eating patterns that involve consuming a variety of nutritious foods in appropriate portion sizes. Here are some of the benefits that you can reap by simply addressing your nutritional needs:3

Balanced glycemic, blood pressure and lipid levels

Healthy body weight

Better behavioral changes

Embracing a proper diet plan decreases the risk of developing complications, such as cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal ailments and cancer. It also allows you to experience the pleasures of eating despite their limited food choices.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetics Require Different Dietary Goals

Since the diet plan for diabetes simply involves eating healthier foods, it may be used for managing both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. However, it's important to note that the dietary goals for these two conditions are different.

For people with Type 1 diabetes, the diet plan is aimed to promote meal timing, since it's extremely important for patients to match their meals with their insulin doses. For instance, eating foods with low glycemic load allows the blood sugar to slowly rise, giving the insulin ample time to take effect.4

On the other hand, people with Type 2 diabetes should create a diet plan that focuses on foods that do not adversely affect the glucose levels. Weight loss or maintenance is also another goal to consider, with the significant effect of obesity to the severity of this condition.5

Implementation of Nutritional Therapy Is Still a Problem Among Diabetics

Ideally, individuals who suffer from diabetes should consult a registered dietitian to determine the appropriate nutritional therapy for their condition.

This should be done soon after the diagnosis, in order to control their glucose level before any complications occur. Unfortunately, statistics have shown that a significant number of diabetics do not receive nor comply with the necessary nutritional treatment.

According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2013, almost half of the diabetes patients in U.S. did not meet the recommended dietary goals for diabetes care, confirming that nutritional treatment, implementation and compliance are indeed some of the biggest hurdles in diabetes management.6

One of the possible reasons behind this problem is the significant number of dietary recommendations for diabetics, which may become quite confusing for both  patients and  health professionals.7 To make things worse, incorrect dietary guidelines have also been recommended to some patients over the years, possibly exacerbating their condition instead of improving their health.

Can a Low-Fat, High-Carb Diet Really Help Control Diabetes?

Over the past few decades, public health guidelines have been recommending that diabetics maintain a diet that's composed of high complex carbohydrates and low amounts of fat. However, studies have shown that staying away from healthy fats and adopting a high-carb diet does not actually help treat diabetes. In fact, it may even worsen this disease.

Research suggests that refined carbohydrate is one of the possible culprits behind the rising cases of people with diabetes, since it promotes insulin resistance. It may also increase your risk of metabolic diseases, inflammation, weight gain and cancer. This is exactly why you should consider replacing your carbs with healthy fats.

Healthy fats are found in organic animal and plant sources, including coconut, raw butter, avocados and grass fed meat, among others. Keep in mind that healthy fats are entirely different from trans fat, which is usually found in processed food and is generally bad for your health.

Learn All About the Appropriate Diet for Managing Diabetes

Self-management is an integral part of diabetes treatment, which is why it's important for you to learn how to plan your diet on your own. However, getting adequate nutrition can be a challenge, especially if you don't have any knowledge regarding  proper dietary recommendations. To learn  more about the basic dietary guidelines that you need to follow, be sure to talk to your physician.

In addition to following an individualized diet plan, you may also read these articles  to identify the best foods to add to your diet  and which ones to avoid. Read on for more dietary tips to control your glucose levels, maintain body weight and prevent other health complications.

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