Diabetes is a common health problem faced by more than 8.5% of the world in 2014. Nutrition and physical activity are important parts of a healthy lifestyle when you have diabetes. A low protein and fibre intake, and high carbohydrate and fat intake in addition to lack of exercise are some of the major factors responsible for diabetes progression and risk of complications.
Proteins in diabetes diet should typically provide 20-30% of your total calorie consumed. A high-protein diet with controlled carbohydrate and calorie consumption may be beneficial in diabetes. High protein intake helps improve glycaemic control, aiding in satiety and preservation of lean body mass during weight loss. The source of protein is more important than the quantity consumed. The American Diabetes Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week. Limiting red meat and processed meats like ham, bacon, and hot dogs are important as they are high in saturated fats and increase the risk of diabetes complications. Whey protein is known to improve satiety and suppress subsequent food intake. It also stimulates insulin secretion and reduces post-meal glucose levels.
Fiber is a type of complex carbohydrate. Since, it is not broken down by the human body, it does not contribute to high calories like sugar. The average person should eat between 20-30 grams of fibre each day. Dietary fibre plays an important role in diabetes management.
Higher intake of fibre, especially cereal and whole grains, can help reduce the risk of cardio-metabolic diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. A high fibre diet also improves satiety which will reduce your hunger pangs and aiding in weight loss.
Carbohydrates constitute of about 64.1% of the total energy of our Indian diet which is more than the ADA recommendations for carbohydrate intake. Higher dietary carbohydrates are associated with an increase in blood glucose levels and a higher risk of diabetes complications. Carbohydrate counting is a meal planning approach for patients with diabetes mellitus; it focuses on carbohydrate as the primary nutrient affecting the postprandial glycaemic response. Low carbohydrate diet helps in reducing weight and blood glucose levels, thereby, reducing diabetic complications.
Diet high in fat is associated with increased calorie consumption resulting in weight gain, and negatively affecting diabetes management. The American Heart Association recommends aiming for a dietary pattern that achieves 5% to 6% of calories from saturated fat. Saturated fat present in fatty lamb, pork, poultry with skin, lard and cream, butter, and cheese can increase the ‘bad cholesterol’ (low-density lipoprotein) in our body, which increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Products such as cakes, biscuits, and desserts that are labeled low fat can be high in sugar and should be avoided.
In addition to eating healthy, it is important to undertake regular physical activity. Exercise further reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.