Dietary Management of Diabetes

Posted by: admin on: November 7, 2011

Correct nutrition is the cornerstone of diabetes management and Indian vegetable and herbs are effective in controlling the disease


  • According to a report published by The Lancet, more than 350 million people in the world have diabetes. India, which is referred to as the ‘diabetes capital of the world’, accounts for a large percentage of that number.
  • Type-I (insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) or juvenile diabetes) is an auto-immune disorder, in which the body is unable to produce insulin.
  • In Type-II (non-insulin dependent adult-onset diabetes or NIDDM), which accounts for 85-95 per cent of diabetes cases, the pancreas produces insulin but is insufficient for reducing the blood glucose levels to normal.
  • Diabetes can have long term consequences if left untreated. Heart disease and stroke, hypertension, blindness and eye problems, kidney, nervous and dental disorders and pregnancy complications have been linked to the disease.
  • However, the good news is that if diabetes can be kept under control, the chances of complications are drastically reduced.

Nutrition: The Cornerstone of Diabetes

  • With proper nutrition, which is referred to as the cornerstone of diabetes care, and moderate exercise, a diabetic should be able to lead a full and healthy life.
  • People who are at risk of developing Type-II diabetes or are ‘pre-diabetics’ can delay the onset of this disease by controlling their weight, eating a balanced low calorie diet and by exercising on a regular basis.
  • Once diabetes has been detected, patients may consult a nutritionist, who will draw up a diet chart as per the doctor’s advice.
  • In Type-I diabetes, the goal of nutritional intervention is to achieve improved glycemic control through coordination of food, especially carbohydrates, doses of insulin, and physical activity.
  • In Type-II diabetes, nutritional goals aim for improved glycemic and lipid levels and weight loss when required.

Diabetics should

  • Exercise on a daily basis
  • Keep a check on your weight
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Check your blood sugar level regularly
  • Consult a doctor and dietician

Staying Healthy

  • While it is absolutely imperative to consult a dietician, here are a few nutritional guidelines that diabetics can be recommended by a doctor for a healthier life:
  • The intake of calories for a single day should be between 1,500-1,800 calories with a proportion of 60:20:20 between carbohydrates, fats and proteins respectively.
  • A dietary pattern that includes carbohydrate from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and low-fat milk should be encouraged.
  • Protein intake should be 15-20 per cent of daily energy intake.
  • 25g to 50g of fiber should be eaten per day or 15 to 25g of fiber per 1,000 calories ingested.
  • Patients should avoid intake of trans-fats. Total dietary fat should generally comprise less than 20 per cent of daily energy intake.
  • Eating a variety of food items everyday is imperative.
  • Diabetics should not skip meals.
  • Snacks should be avoided, unless advised to do so (eg, during insulin treatment).
  • Overeating should be stopped.
  • Patients should be advised to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables. It is recommended that 400g of fruits and vegetables should be included in the diet, everyday.
  • Foods should be cooked in less oil.
  • Fried foods, milk cream, food items cooked in coconut milk and ready-to-eat foods must be avoided
  • Diabetics must keep a check on their weight and maintain an ideal body weight.
  • Doctors should advice patients to regularly check haemoglobin and proteins in blood samples every six months or one year. Suitable correction in diet format or supplementation may become necessary.
  • Diabetics must match their mealtimes to their insulin intake or as advised by the doctor.

Why Should You Recommend Natural?

  • Full of antioxidants, natural products flush out toxins from the body
  • Devoid of additives, fresh fruits and vegetables give patients optimal energy
  • It is easier to stick to a low calorie diet when diabetics opt for natural foods

Natural Remedy for Diabetes

  • In the Indian subcontinent, a lot of patients opt for natural therapies that include herbal supplements for the management of diabetes.
  • In rural areas, where patients are not able to regularly take insulin, consuming ‘sugar lowering’ natural foods is helpful in managing the condition.
  • In Ayurveda, the diet prescribed by the specialists includes reduction in excess intake of sweets, carbohydrates and dairy products and an increased consumption of fresh vegetables and bitter herbs.
  • Ancient ayurvedic texts recommend eating bitter melon, fenugreek, jambul, neem and gooseberry fruits for this condition.
  • These foods improve glucose tolerance in Type II diabetes but they are not a cure for diabetes and do not replace the need for a healthy diet.
  • While diabetes is a long term disorder, adopting simple lifestyle changes, choosing the right medication and following a proper diet will stop diabetes from causing any long-term damage.
  • Including certain foods in diet may not completely eliminate the need to take anti-diabetic medications on a daily basis.
  • However, they can certainly keep the blood sugar levels down

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