It begins and ends with healthier eating
While there will always be some controversy regarding what constitutes the best choices for a healthy diet, there are certain facts about diet and diabetes that we have come to accept as just that... facts. Unlike evolving scientific evidence supporting one nutritional approach over another,
we can be comfortable in asserting that what you eat is closely connected with the amount of sugar (glucose) in your blood. That means you have a high degree of control over your blood sugar level based on what you eat.
So given this relationship, the question becomes, what is the best diet for type 2 diabetics or pre-diabetics? Turns out it's the same diet that's best for people who have no blood sugar concerns at all.
Simply put, the principles of healthy eating are the same, whether or not you're trying to prevent or better manage diabetes. In fact, there are a number of studies indicating that specially-labeled "diabetic foods," which are generally available at a comparatively higher cost, offer no special benefit.
What's good for those with diabetes is good for everyone else and vice versa. That includes:
- Eating smaller portions that are more spread out over the day.
- Eating less "unhealthy" fats and more "healthy" fats and oils – the surge of fad diets based on low-fat and fat free is behind the commonly held belief that all fats are bad for you. In fact, certain types of fat are very valuable and are critical to maintaining good health. What's important is to know the difference.
- Same with carbohydrates in terms of "good and "bad" - complex carbohydrates (as opposed to simple carbs) are considered "good" because of the long molecular chains of sugars that make them up and then takes longer to break down. They have a lower glycemic load than simple or "bad" carbs (lower amounts of sugar released at a more consistent rate) to help you avoid "peaks and valleys" over the course of a day.
Generally speaking, carbohydrates may be the most misunderstood of all the calorie-producing foods and telling the difference between a good carb and a bad carb isn't always easy without some reliable information and a little effort.
While carbohydrates will likely continue to have their proponents and their detractors, most of the conventional wisdom settles on the idea that the problem is less about the general category of carbs and much more about what kind of carbs we're talking about. This brief discussion is a little basic when it comes to carbohydrates, so it's a good idea to do your own research and consult with a nutritional professional to learn more.
Here are some tips that can help:
- Eat a variety of whole-grain foods, fruits and vegetables every day.
- Limit your use of alcohol – the effects of excessive alcohol on diabetes are negative on all counts, but there are also some adverse factors that most of us wouldn't even think about.
- Although some of the voluminous information regarding diet and diabetes takes a little time to "digest," the take away is easy – better eating habits over the course of your life are a critical part of keeping blood sugar in the recommended range and, ultimately, managing diabetes. The same dietary approach also supports improved health in general.
And that's good news no matter what your medical history may be.
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