Revamp your diet to prevent diabetes

Low GI diet is the best-kept secret to keep your diabetes on the low!

India is on the fast track to become the diabetes center of the world. According to a recent study conducted by the International Diabetes Federation, India currently has 65 million diabetics.

While it is true that the Indian cuisine is rich in pulses, vegetables and fruits, there are still many shortcomings in our daily diet that lead to such appalling statistics. Liberal use of ghee or saturated fat in our cooking is a major cause of concern, along with the increased consumption of processed and packaged foods as they are seen as more convenient options for today’s working families. Increased consumption of fatty foods and sugar-rich sweets also create havoc.

These have a negative impact on the insulin levels of the body, which lead to diabetes and a number of other serious problems like eye damage, kidney diseases, heart and blood vessel disease and nerve diseases.

What can be done to reduce the incidence of diabetes? The easiest and most effective solution to this chronic disease is to give a re-vamp to one’s diet. Diet control allows one to regulate the blood sugar levels and insulin levels of the body, and thus, control the diabetes level. This can be introduced in one’s lifestyle by measuring your diet as per the Low Glycemic Index (Low GI).

What do you eat to manage diabetes?

The latest trend in healthy eating, it is the key to keeping your diabetes on the low.

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates basis their quality & the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Hence, it is a clear reflection of what foods are good and bad for diabetes patients. The index ranks foods on an ascending scale of 1 – 100 by measuring the rate of release of sugar upon their consumption. Based on this, all carbohydrate sources are classified into three general categories:

High glycemic index foods (GI 70 or above) that induce an immediate rise in blood sugar

Intermediate glycemic index foods (GI 55 – 69) that induce an average rise in blood sugar

Low glycemic index foods (GI 55 or below), that cause a relatively gradual rise in blood sugar

Foods with a high GI value are those which are rapidly digested and absorbed and result in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels. As they cause our blood sugar levels to dip below normal, these lead to more infrequency in our insulin levels. This aggravates diabetes, and worsens the same.

Low-GI foods, by virtue of their slow digestion and absorption, produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels. As these foods control your blood sugar levels, they regulate your diabetes. In addition, it gives sustained energy, allowing you to be active for longer on a physical and mental level.

So, it is simply a matter of eliminating high GI foods that have “bad carbohydrates”, and substituting them with low GI foods that have “good carbohydrates”!

10 things diabetics must always keep handy

Below is a bunch of more simple & interesting tips in which you can stabilize the sugar levels of body with low GI diet!

1. Breakfast cereals: A Low GI breakfast is the best way to start the day, as it is the first meal of the day it necessary to replace the reserve of fats and carbohydrates with proteins and vitamins to keep oneself completely energized throughout the day. Low GI cereals like oats, oat bran and toasted sugar free muesli are great picks with a side of milk or fruit. Oats being a good source of dietary fiber and protein can also be added to milkshakes, parathas, poha to increase the health quotient. Cornflakes should be restricted as they have a very high GI.

2. Multi grain bread is the perfect way to shift to a low GI diet as it can be included for sandwiches, sides with soups, etc.

3. Low GI basmati rice during lunch dinner is an excellent way to introduce low GI to your meal. We all know how rice is so dear to most of us, but most people opt out of rice as it is high on glycemic index. Low GI basmati rice lets you enjoy the flavor of basmati rice while remaining active with a healthy, satisfying feeling. Grilled meat or fish during dinner is another low GI alternative along with your veggies. This will make for a full all-rounded meal, which can be made fun with different gravies and spices.

4. Unsweetened juices are great ways to substitute colas and aerated drinks which are loaded with sugars and artificial sweeteners that raise blood sugar levels rapidly causing them to crash shortly after increasing the risk of diabetes.

5. Snack bars are some great snacking options in between meals. These are important to keep blood sugar levels steady in between meals as you tend to feel more hungry specially when you are diabetic. Along with that, nuts like walnuts, almonds, cashews and peanuts and raisins are also low in GI.

6. Frozen low fat fruit desserts are safe bets for dessert for your diet specially if you have a sweet tooth and you are diabetic as well. If you crave Indian desserts like rice kheer, opt for low- GI rice when preparing the same with minimal amount of sugar.

Desi fibre for the diabetic

7. Certain fruits and vegetables can be increased in your diet to gain more from low GI, and these are namely fruits like apples, cherries, plums, pears, peaches, grapes, oranges, strawberries, prunes and kiwi fruit, and vegetables such as peas, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, lettuce, chillies, onions and sweet potatoes. Fruits such as watermelons and dates, and vegetables like pumpkin should be avoided as they have a very high GI value.

Adopting low GI into your diet will be the step to making India diabetes-free!

Dr. Banshi Saboo, MD., FICP, FICN, MNAMS (Diabetology)

The author is International Fellow – Diabetes, Diabetologist & Metabolic Physician, Hon. Diabetologist – H. E. The Governor of Gujarat, Founder: Diabetes Care India.

Image credit: J Sharmilee

What do you eat to manage diabetes?