There are multiple aspects to the relationship between diet and diabetes. On the one hand, anyone with diabetes will need to take extra care with diet in order to help maintain the proper glucose level. On the other, those who don’t have diabetes – but have a genetic and/or environmental or lifestyle disposition to develop it – can help stave off the disease in part through good dietary choices.
It isn’t the case, for example, that eating sugary foods leads to diabetes. The causes of the disease are complex and not fully understood. But what is known shows that there is both a genetic and many possible environmental factors. Only part of that is the amount of sugar ingested.
Nevertheless, it’s true that those with a high sugar diet will tend to be overweight (as measured, in part, by a BMI over 27) and therefore are at greater risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. That’s particularly true for those who tend to carry that extra weight around the waist.
As such, a diet that is generally healthy for everyone is the same diet that will help stave off diabetes, or lessen its effects for those who already have the disease.
A diet that contains the proper amounts of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, as well as good protein sources, is helpful for everyone, including the diabetic. Fat itself isn’t to be totally excluded, but should be consumed in moderation.
Fat gets a bad reputation because (a) it’s over twice as high in calories than other foods (9 calories per gram as opposed to 4) and, (b) there are certain fats that are less healthy than others (transfats as opposed to healthier unsaturated fats). A certain amount is essential for good health.
While a diabetic should be prepared at all times to consume a snack or bar that will help stabilize glucose at the right level, in general it’s helpful to establish a routine. That makes it easier to monitor glucose level and to predict what it is likely to be when you’re not watching it. That also helps smooth out the level of glucose in the blood over time. Spikes or dips are to be avoided.
Those with diabetes who also want to reduce weight or body fat need to take extra care. After consulting a physician to establish a good diet for their particular circumstances, counting carbohydrates will need to become a regular routine. Most carbohydrates are what the body breaks down to produce glucose. That has a direct effect on the glucose-insulin balance so important for keeping diabetes under control.
While protein or fat consumption doesn’t directly determine the amount of insulin needed, these too should be consumed in carefully regulated quantities. Excess consumption can make anyone overweight and the diabetic is more negatively affected if that occurs than others.
Consistency is key. Establish a healthy diet plan for your individual circumstances and stick to it, making gradual adjustments as needed. In the long term, it will help minimize any problems associated with diabetes to the maximum extent possible.