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How to Eat a Low Glycemic Diet to Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

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Diabetes affects millions of people every single day. It may run in your family, leading to Type 1 diabetes, which is genetically disposed and irreversible, however, Type 2 diabetes is a whole other story. Type 2 diabetes develops due to poor blood sugar, usually influenced by lifestyle factors. Red meat, fatty foods, processed sugars, a diet high in refined carbohydrates, a lack of exercise, and poor weight management can all lead to Type 2 diabetes. Other risk factors include women with past histories of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and other hormonal disorders that affect insulin levels.

How Does Diabetes Happen in The First Place?

Diabetes occurs due to poor insulin function in the body. Normally, when a carbohydrate is consumed, the hormone insulin releases glucose from foods into the bloodstream where it helps turn the sugars into energy by helping glucose to enter the cells. All excess glucose is stored in the liver (which usually leads to excess fat storage.) However, in someone with diabetes, cells don’t properly absorb glucose, which results in consistently high blood sugar. This sugar cravings leading to more sugar intake, and the cycle happens all over again. Over time, this consistent poor glucose response leads to insulin resistance where the body keeps producing excess insulin but since it never works properly, so the muscles, liver, and cells aren’t able to use it for energy. Over time, the pancreas stops producing insulin.

Should We Avoid All Carbs?

A carb-free diet is not necessary, nor helpful, for improving diabetes. Many carbs such as non-starchy veggies, low-glycemic fruits, root vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds all come with major blood sugar benefits: fiber. Fiber slows down the release of sugar into the bloodstream, which helps slow down the glycemic response. A low-glycemic, plant-based diet has been linked to improved chances of developing Type 2 diabetes, along with heart disease.

How to Eat a Low Glycemic, Plant-Based Diet

Be sure to balance your protein, carb, and fat intake at each meal. Some studies show that reducing excess fats in your diet (especially from oil) may also help reduce your risks and chances of developing Type 2 diabetes and manage diabetes once you have it. Why? Fat blocks glucose from reaching cells efficiently, so all the excess glucose gets sent to the liver and never used for energy. This results in weight gain and poor blood sugar levels. It’s also damaging to the arteries and the heart.

This being said, for meals, it’s best to fill your plate with as many leafy greens and non-starchy veggies as you can (think half-way full), a serving of beans and legumes for plant-based protein and fiber (edamame, black beans, lentils, and chickpeas all make great options.) The other portion of your plate can include starchy veggies like sweet potatoes or winter squash, or some whole grains if you enjoy them. Nuts and seeds should be considered snacks, not a large part of meals. They are also best when used as a topping on a salad say, than eaten in large amounts. Nuts and seeds can very much improve blood sugar levels, but shouldn’t be consumed in excess due to their high amounts of fat. Basing your foods off greens, veggies, low-glycemic starches, and beans/legumes is thought of the best four food groups for diabetics. What about animal foods? Animal foods raise blood sugar levels, making a plant-based diet the best choice.

If you’re having a hard time transitioning, take it one step at a time and avoid red meat, dairy, and high-fat sources at all costs. The best way to embrace a plant-based diet is crowd out animal foods on your plate with a rich amount of plant-based foods. Try these:

Best Foods to Manage Your Blood Sugar:

This is by no means an exclusive list, but does offer some of the best lower-glycemic and/or high fiber foods on a plant-based diet.

Some Samples Meals:

  • Oatmeal with unsweetened almond milk, blueberries, cranberries, blackberries or raspberries with 1 teaspoon flaxseed and coconut flour added for flavor, protein, and fiber. Season with cinnamon and sweeten with stevia (not artificial sugars.)
  • Quinoa with sauteed kale, broccoli, tamari for seasoning, lentils, and chopped winter squash
  • Vegan chili
  • A Superfood, fiber-filled smoothie
  • Overnight oatmeal made with oats, chia seeds, unsweetened non-dairy milk, vanilla, and some pumpkin puree. Top with cinnamon, ginger, and sweeten with some stevia or some plain applesauce.
  • Vegan protein pancakes
  • Sweet Potato and Kale Patties
  • A salad made with chickpeas, salsa, lentils, romaine lettuce, spinach, red bell peppers, broccoli, and some hot mustard for drizzling. Add a touch of black pepper and squeeze of lemon for extra Vitamin C and flavor.

It’s also important to exercise, which improves insulin function in the body. Thirty minutes, five times a week and staying active, along with a healthy diet are amazing prevention and management tactics anyone can take advantage of.

If you have diabetes and have seen how a plant-based diet has improved your health, please share with us in the comments below!

Also see:

Image Source: Micadew/Flickr

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9 comments on “How to Eat a Low Glycemic Diet to Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes”

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Miki
5 Months Ago

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Last year, our team of doctors at the ICTM helped 17,542 type 2 diabetics end the need for prescription drugs, insulin injections and blood sugar monitoring. This year we are on track to help over 30,000 diabetics achieve "the impossible".


Reply
Queade Di Ilio
2 Years Ago

Dr McDougall says the glycemic index is not a good indicator for a plant based diet. https://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2006nl/july/glycemic.htm


Reply
Jennifer Francis-Tenorio
2 Years Ago

Alicemarie Quinones


Reply
fred ogini
2 Years Ago

pls. orange is not one of the fruits to be taken .


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Ronnie Wright
2 Years Ago

It’s great to see a website that is putting out accurate information on this subject that is based on good solid science. So many people are fooled by fad diet book authors (Atkins, Wheat Belly, Paleo) and can be putting their long term health at risk.


Reply
Barbara Johnson
2 Years Ago

BROCCOLI LOWERS BLOOD SUGAR http://www.healthnaturalguide.com/2013/11/broccoli-lowers-blood-sugar.html


Reply
David Palmer
2 Years Ago

This article is such a crock, with a great deal of disinformation, and the author should be ashamed of herself. She says not to eat much in the way of nuts and high-fat seeds, well I am a Type-2 diabetic who had an A1C of 12.0, and in one year I\'ve cut it in half without gastric surgery or insulin (and gotten down to the "pre-diabetic" mode, and also lost a lot of weight), by eating a high fat/low carb diet with LOTS of fatty nuts and seeds, and also cheese and chicken (which she says to avoid, along with all animal-based foods), and by avoiding many of the foods she advocates, like oats and amaranth and potatoes (all of which are DEVESTATING to my blood sugar).


Reply
T33CH
16 Dec 2014

Agreed David,

The author\'s bias against animal foods comes could be potentially damaging to people that want to improve their health. She states that meat raises blood sugar, yet it has a glycemic index number of ZERO. If you want diabetes, eat a plant based diet of processed sugar and starch foods like grains and sugars.

hahaha
2 Years Ago

There is so much wrong science in this article it is absurd.


Reply
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2 Years Ago

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dean
2 Years Ago

Didn\'t realize at first this was a vegetarian infoarticle. Go to a Paleo/Priamal website and learn the easiest and healthiest way to reduce your chances of getting type 2 diabetes or to eliminate it.


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