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The Center for Natural & Integrative Medicine: Diabetes, Diet & Lifestyle (part 2)

In addition to the suggestions from last weeks post, following are additional suggestions for managing diabetes….

-Lose weight if you are overweight. Excess body fat causes cells to become resistant to insulin.

-Eat small, frequent meals to keep blood sugars in a healthy range. Eating large meals can flood the bloodstream with glucose. Experiment until you find an eating pattern that makes you feel your best.

-Keep refined starches and sugars to a minimum, choosing those with a low glycemic index. (Sweet potatoes, winter squash and beans are examples of better carbohydrates.) You should also be aware of glycemic load in assessing dietary choices.

-Keep trans-fats and other chemically altered fats to a minimum, but consume moderate amounts of monounsaturated oils, such as extra virgin olive oil and some nut oils.

-Eat fish several times a week, emphasizing wild, cold-water fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as Alaskan salmon and sardines. Or take molecularly distilled omega-3 supplements.

-Eat generous amounts of non-starchy vegetables, like cucumbers, bell peppers, dark leafy greens, zucchini, eggplant, squash, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, beans, radishes and spinach.

-Increase your activity level. Aerobic activity improves insulin sensitivity in muscle cells, which allows more glucose to enter the cells. Aim for 30 minutes a day.

Since type 1 and type 2 diabetics are at increased risk for a variety of complications, symptoms should be taken seriously and addressed immediately, and lifestyle changes, including dietary modification, should be initiated promptly and maintained.

Nutrition and supplements

In addition to the suggested dietary changes above, work with a doctor and a nutritionist to develop a personalized diet. Since insulin production, blood sugar levels, and the types of foods a diabetic eats play a significant role in the management of the disease, it is important to adhere to a healthy diet.

Research has shown that several nutrients and supplements may be helpful for people with diabetes. These include magnesium and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Lower glycemic-index foods have also been shown to be helpful with blood sugar control. Try the following:

Eat magnesium-rich foods every day. These include spinach, tofu, almonds, broccoli and lentils. Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are also good sources of magnesium. Magnesium may help promote insulin production.

Eat fish, or take fish-oil supplements. Walnuts or freshly ground flaxseed are also sources of omega-3 fats, but they are utilized by the body far less efficiently than fish oils.

Our Nutrition Educator, Kiara Oberhaensli  is available for nutrition consultations and can help with healthy choices for diabetes management. For more information, contact our office: 407-355-9246


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