There are currently 415million people worldwide suffering from either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a disease in which your blood sugar levels reach too high, caused by a lack of insulin functionality. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that allows for glucose in the blood to enter our cells to fuel the body.
This list of top 10 diabetes superfoods will be comprised of low GI foods. The GI of a food, or glycemic index, measures the rate at which rate blood sugar will rise once consumed.
Minimising spikes in blood sugar will make both types of diabetes more manageable.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the pancreas is attacked by antibodies. Over time, the pancreas is damaged to a point in which it can no longer produce insulin, leading to high blood sugar. Type one diabetes is treated by injecting synthetic insulin in quantities that match the GI of foods consumed.
Type 2 Diabetes
By far the more common of the two, Type 2 diabetes is a milder, non-insulin-dependent form of the disease, where the pancreas still produces some insulin, but doesn't produce enough to effectively manage blood sugar levels.
Those who are obese are at the highest risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Having a higher body fat percentage is linked to developing insulin resistance. This is when cells become less sensitive to insulin, causing the pancreas to become overworked in order to keep up with increased demand.
Top 10 Diabetes Superfoods.
Unfortunately, there is no way to cure diabetes. It can, however, be managed with diet, exercise and proper weight management. The best diet to follow when diabetic (type 1 ; 2), should be high in complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats and should show avoidance to simple carbohydrates, trans fats and refined sugars. Those with type 1 diabetes may focus on foods with the lowest GI foods that are also low in sugar, whereas type 2 diabetes sufferers may look to low GI foods that are also low calorie and low fat.
Superfoods for Type 1 Diabetes.
1. Oily Fish
Salmon, mackerel and anchovy are prime examples of oily fish that are full of healthy fats which help to reduce bad cholesterol and promote cardiovascular health. Fish are a fantastic source of protein that doesn't contribute to a rise in blood sugar due to the absence of any carbohydrates. Oily fish an excellent low GI food choice for diabetics.
Chickpeas are a member of the legume family with a particularly low GI score of just 28. Full of fibre and plant-based protein, chickpeas are a well-rounded source of complex carbohydrates loaded with vitamins and minerals which are good for your overall wellbeing, as well as keeping blood-sugar spikes to a minimum.
Low-fat dairy, such as skimmed cows milk is not only packed with teeth and bone-friendly calcium but also benefits diabetics by being low in sugar and GI. Plant-based milks, like soya, also demonstrate low GI scores between 37-40. Milk can be enjoyed as an addition to smoothies, or simply on its own to wash down a meal.
4. Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are a notoriously super good food for diabetics. Dark leafy vegetables such as kale are high fibre and full of essential nutrients that can help to lower blood sugar and improve metabolic rate. Spinach leaves for example have a GI of only 1 (per 1 cup serving) and kale between 2-4.
Whist most fruits contain a certain amount of sugar, this sugar is different to that found in processed food like sweets and pre-packaged cereals. Fructose is the kind of sugar found naturally in all fruits, including citruses. GI is not affected equally by all sugars, with fructose coming in at having the least effect. Grapefruit has the lowest GI of all fruits with a score of 25. Grapefruit is also an excellent source of vitamin C and health-benefiting vitamins.
Superfoods for Type 2 Diabetes
Avocados are full of MUFAs (monosaturated fatty acids) and should be a feature in any diabetic eating plan. MUFAs can help to increase insulin sensitivity in those showing insulin resistance. Nutrients in avocados also have a positive effect on blood pressure and can lead to less inflammation in the body. Many studies have shown that avocado can lower the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, a group of factors that can increase the risk of diabetes.
Beans are a nutritional powerhouse, they're high in protein, complex carbohydrates and both soluble and insoluble fibre. Soya beans have a GI score of just 16 and kidney beans come in at around GI 24.
In a study "Effect of Legumes as Part of a Low Glycemic Index Diet on Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes," it was found that legumes, including beans and lentils where amongst the lowest GI foods and it was confirmed that including them in a balanced low GI diet, glycemic control improved and cardiovascular risk was reduced in those with type 2 diabetes.
All nuts demonstrate a low GI score and are good food for diabetics. Cashews are at the top end with a GI of 22, almonds are at the lower, with a GI of less than 1. Other nuts such as pistachios, walnuts and brazil nuts slot in somewhere in-between. The little carbohydrates nuts contain are mostly fibre, not sugar, so they have very little effect on blood sugar levels. A fantastic snack alternative for diabetics.
Garlic is another ingredient with a GI score of 0, but having zero effect on blood sugar is not where this superfoods ability stops. It has been found that garlic and other members of the scallion family can lower your fasting blood glucose, which is your stabilised blood sugar when you haven't eaten. Having a lower fasting blood glucose is a good thing because it lightens the load on the pancreas. Producing insulin is taxing on the body, and this is only augmented in diabetic individuals.
10. Apple Cider Vinegar
Okay so not exactly a food, but one that couldn't be left behind. Apple cider vinegar has been said to reduce fasting blood sugar by 4% in the morning after being consumed the night before, to improve insulin sensitivity by up to 34%, and to enhance the bodies natural insulin functionality. Apple cider vinegar can be added to drinking water, salad dressings and mixed into marinades.
How to Incorporate these into your Diet.
Are you going to learn how to reverse diabetes naturally with these 10 superfoods? Unfortunately not. Although, whilst not being able to actually reverse diabetes, by choosing low GI food over high GI food you can make management far easier improve your body's natural insulin mechanism. Incorporating these low GI foods into your everyday diet, you will be helping to improve other areas of your health, such as metabolism, cardiovascular health and body fat percentage.