Diet for Diabetic Patients
Diabetes is a disorder characterized by abnormalities in the utilization of glucose obtained from the diet. A hormone known as insulin is essential for the effective utilization of glucose and is either present in low amounts or is completely absent in individuals suffering from diabetes. This leads to increased blood levels of glucose that can result in a number of complications. 1 Therefore dietary modification forms one of the mainstays of treatment in diabetes. Along with dietary changes lifestyle modifications are also advised for the control of blood glucose levels in diabetic individuals.
The Diabetic Diet
Though diet control is necessary in individuals with diabetes, care must be taken in designing the diet to avoid losing out on important macronutrients and micronutrients that may lead to other complications.
One of the most essential requirements in diabetic individuals is the control of glucose intake in the form of sugars or sweetening agents. This would include most of the products such as sweets, chocolates, sugar-sweetened beverages etc.1
Diabetic individuals also need to take care of other concerns such as:
- Reduce fat intake
- Reduce carbohydrates
- Include food with micronutrients (vitamins and minerals)
- Include wholesome food 2, 3
Diabetic individuals, especially those with long standing diabetes are prone to it’s complications like diabetic nephropathy, diabetic neuropathy, diabetic ulcers and diabetic retinopathy among many others.
Increasing micronutrients intake may help in improving the antioxidant levels in the blood and thus reduce the severity or delay the onset of these complications. They also help in the general well being of the diabetic individuals. Including minerals like chromium may reduce the severity of diabetes.
Including wholesome food like wholegrain breads, fruits, vegetables can supply the individual with the right mix of natural ingredients to help in streamlining digestion and metabolism.
Apart from the above dietary modifications other vital modifications required are reduced alcohol intake and cessation of smoking.
Purpose of diet
The main objective of introducing dietary change in individuals with diabetes is to avoid any spikes in blood sugar that can overwhelm the system causing poor blood sugar control.
When diabetic individuals reduce intake of sweetened foods (which can immediately increase blood sugar levels) and carbohydrates (that can increase blood sugar levels in a short period) and increase other components, they are engineering the body to sustain moderate levels of sugar in the blood. Towards achieving the same, individuals with diabetics should take frequent small meals than few large meals.1-3
Going through the concepts involved in designing a diabetic diet, it can be readily understood that the requirements of various individuals will be different. Therefore, there cannot be an ideal diabetic diet. Each individual is different with respect to his/her lifestyle and levels of activity throughout the day.4 So they are the best judges of their requirements and can design their own diets to suit their requirements and lifestyles.
If they can remember the reason why they are initiating the dietary modification, the design will be more fruitful in achieving the desired goals. More stringent control can be achieved if they can count the number of calories they require and design their diets accordingly. Dieticians’ help can be sought if it is difficult to choose a diet that is appropriate for sugar control.
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Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: June 3, 2012