Diabetes mellitus (DM) commonly referred to as Diabetes, is a chronic disorder. It occurs when the pancreas does not secrete enough insulin or when the cells of the body become resistant to insulin. In either case, the blood sugar cannot get into the cells for storage, which then leads to serious complications.
Diabetes, perhaps more than any other disease, is strongly associated with the western diet, as it was uncommon in cultures consuming some native diets. However, as cultures switch from their native diets to the foods of commerce; their rate of diabetes increases eventually reaching the proportions seen in the western societies.
According to World Health organisation, the current estimated number of people living with diabetics in Nigeria is about 1.7 million, and 7 million Africans in total.
There are some specific foods that have been shown to produce positive effects on blood sugar control. These foods have a low glycemic index and glycemic load and are high in fibre.
Not only do food rich in fibre help reduce those frequent trips to the bathroom, but a research at the university of Texas found that people who have raised their daily fibre intake from 24 grams to 50 have experienced dramatic improvements in their blood sugar levels. In fact, the fibre rich diet is no less effective than certain diabetes medicines.
Fruits contain seeds and come from plants or trees. People eat fruits that are stored in many ways – fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and processed.
But aren’t tomatoes and cucumbers also fruits because they have seeds? There are many foods that are classed as fruits that may surprise some people. Tomatoes are certainly one of them.
When it comes to diabetics eating fruits, there is a lot of confusion and information is very misleading. Just remember that moderation is the key here.
Diabetes disease arises when the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood.
So, how do you pick the best fruit for diabetes? While some forms of fruit, like juice, can be bad for diabetics, whole fruits like berries, citrus, apricots, and yes, even apples — can be good for your overall health, fighting inflammation, normalizing your blood pressure, and more. Consume fruit in its whole, natural form, and avoid syrups or any processed fruits with added sugar, which have the tendency to spike your blood sugar levels.
Stick to the produce aisle and the freezer section of your grocery store.
But as with any food in your diabetes diet, you have to be smart about counting your carbohydrates and tracking what you eat. Portion size is important.
As you may already know, people who suffer from diabetes often have a shortage of vitamin C. So citrus fruits, chalk full of vitamin C as well as loads of antioxidants – are a great choice.
Some other fruits include – Pomegranates, they contain the richest combinations of antioxidants of all fruits and can protect you from free-radicals and chronic diseases. So feel free to enjoy these red pearls with such powerful phytochemical compounds.
Grapes- Resveratrol, a phytochemical found in grapes, modulates the blood glucose response by effecting how the body secretes and uses insulin. Hence grapes are a good choice keeping its nutritional profile in mind.
Apples: diabetics should feel free to eat apples. In fact, apples along with blueberries and grapes are especially beneficial for reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes according to the American journal of clinical nutrition.
At a long-term research in Finland, researchers found that men who ate the largest amount of apples had 20% less diabetes or heart associated death. Their research indicated that the active ingredient responsible for this was quercetin.
If you can’t find apples or don’t like them (rare but happens), other lesser but still good sources of quercetin are onions, tomatoes, green vegetables and forest berries.
Blueberries: Blueberries get their deep pigment from anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid, known particularly to lower the risk of diabetes.
Cherries like blueberries contain anthocyanins that pump the cells insulin production by 50%. The day is not far when anthocyanins might be the building blocks for new diabetes treatments. So include cherries as a part of your healthy diet.
Strawberries – have low- glycemic index hence it’s slowly released into the blood stream as glucose.
Guava – It’s a great snack for diabetics with a low glycemic index. Guava is very rich in dietary fibre that helps ease constipation (a common diabetic complaint) and can lower the chance of developing type-2 diabetes.
Watermelon -The high potassium content makes watermelon one of best fruits for proper kidney functioning which in turn keep your blood uric acid levels on the lower side. This prevents kidney damage especially if you are diabetic. Also, diabetes can cause nerve damage but lycopene found in watermelon really helps reduce the effect.
Dried fruit and fruit juice should be consumed less often than fresh fruit. This is due to calorie density, sugar concentration, and smaller recommended portion sizes.
Papaya (pawpaw): Natural antioxidants in papaya makes it a great choice for diabetics. Diabetics are prone to many ailments, including heart or nerve damage caused by irregular blood sugar levels. A diet incorporating papaya can obstruct future cell damage for a better and longer life span.
If you look at the nutritional value of papaya, you will see that it is low in sugar (8.3 gm in one cup of sliced papaya). Despite the low sugar content, it is sweet. This makes it a perfect fruit for all diabetics to consume. Furthermore, it is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and fibre. Vitamin C along with other antioxidants in papaya help diabetics to stay away from heart disease.
Papaya is fairly rich in minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Studies show that papaya extract can slow down the progression of type 2 diabetes, where the pancreas loses its ability to produce and secrete insulin completely.
Oranges: The flavonols, flavanones and phenolic acid found in oranges, have shown tremendous protective abilities, especially in diabetics. When it comes to glucose metabolism, citrus fruits not only slow glucose update but also inhibit the movement or transport of glucose through the intestines and liver.
The key is to eat a wide variety to keep your body toxin-free benefiting from their important role in detoxification. There is no need for exotic fruits, eating fruits that are fresh, local and in season are best suited for you.
How many servings or quantity should diabetics eat in a day?
People generally do not know how many calories they eat in a day. However, it should be about one to two servings at most to be on the safe side.
- 1,200-1,600 calories per day: Two fruit servings per day
- 1,600-2,000 calories per day: Three fruit servings per day
- 2,000-2,400 calories per day: Four fruit servings per day
Q: how much is a serving?
A: It depends on what kind of fruit you’re talking about. If it’s a round fruit like an apple or orange, it should be on the smaller size—about the size of a tennis ball. For fruit that can be measured by the cup like cubed melon or fresh berries, a serving is one cup.
Key tips to go with
– Eat fruits that have a low glycemic index.
– Fruits should not be eaten with your main meals, its best to have fruits in between meals and as a snack.
– Fruits with high glycemic index should be eaten only in moderation.
– Eat fruits with some nuts and olives to balance the glycemic load.
– Sprinkle fruits with cinnamon which is very helpful in balancing blood sugar levels.
– Grind whole flaxseeds in a coffee grinder and sprinkle over fresh fruit to balance sugar levels.
– Diabetics should not eat cooked fruits always eat raw fruits to reap the benefits. Never consume fruit juice as it’s robbed of all the fiber and would spike blood sugar levels
A healthy balance of good health is good nutrition and exercise. Brisk walking is an ideal way to control the negative effect of diabetes. When you do moderate exercise, like walking, that makes your heart beat a little faster and breathe a little harder. Your muscles use more glucose, the sugar in your blood stream. Over time, this can lower your blood sugar levels. It also makes the insulin in your body work better.
*All in all, eat less and move more.