Being diagnosed with any disease can cause a panic (“What can I do?”) and then reflection (“What could I have done differently?”). In the case of diabetes, something can be done at any stage. If you’re living with diabetes, the right diet can help control a normal blood sugar level. If you aren’t diabetic but are interested in preventing diabetes, there are simple dietary steps you can take that will help.
Eat Whole Grains to Avoid Bad Carbohydrates
As part of an overall healthy diet and exercise plan, whole grains are an important food due to their nutritional value. That value isn’t just in the bran part of the grain, or just in the germ part of the grain. Together, the variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients both of these components contain produce an important and more complete nutritional source. So if you’re eating grains and grain-based food, make sure they are whole grains. Refined or overly processed grains will have some or all of the nutritional value removed. Consuming them means you’re just consuming empty calories, or bad carbs. Refined grains also have a higher glycemic index than whole grains, which can increase the risk for type 2 diabetes.
Whole Grains Are Good Carbohydrates
Whole grains are considered good carbs. The bran and fiber slow down the digestive process of turning starches into glucose, which causes a lower increase in blood sugar and insulin, as well as a lower glycemic index. When your body isn’t driven to produce more insulin, your risk for type 2 diabetes decreases. The fiber in whole grains also helps reduce overeating, as it makes you feel more full. This is important, as excess weight increases one’s chances of developing type 2 diabetes 20-40 times more than those with a healthy weight.
A Harvard study revealed:
There is convincing evidence that diets rich in whole grains protect against diabetes, whereas diets rich in refined carbohydrates lead to increased risk. In the Nurses’ Health Studies I and II, for example, researchers looked at the whole grain consumption of more than 160,000 women whose health and dietary habits were followed for up to 18 years. Women who averaged two to three servings of whole grains a day were 30 percent less likely to have developed type 2 diabetes than those who rarely ate whole grains. When the researchers combined these results with those of several other large studies, they found that eating an extra 2 servings of whole grains a day decreased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 21 percent. (https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/diabetes-prevention/preventing-diabetes-full-story/)
To help prevent diabetes, manage existing diabetes, and support your overall health, avoid foods with refined grains. Foods like white bread, white rice, donuts, bagels and other high glycemic index foods can cause sustained spikes in blood sugar and insulin. Focusing instead on whole grains and other whole foods will not only help prevent and manage diabetes, but will also help keep your weight healthy. And, with a variety of great tasting whole grain recipes available, it’s possible to focus on your health and wellbeing without sacrificing delicious food. Here are a few to get started: