Friday, 16 November 2012

World Diabetes Day

Find my article on the basics of a healthy diet for diabetes published in health india site on World Diabetes Day 14th nov 2012

World Diabetes Day 2012: The basics of a healthy diet


If you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes or diabetes-like symptoms there’s no need to panic. There’s a common misconception that avoiding sugar and other sweets is all diabetics do. That’s grossly inaccurate. The disease can be controlled by simply following a proper diet, taking your medications properly and getting enough exercise.
The basic issue that diabetics face is that the body fails to convert sugars, starches and other foods into energy efficiently and their diet needs to counter that. While there is no ‘diabetes diet’ per se, there are lots of food items that are considered good for diabetics. In fact it would do non-diabetics a world of good to follow these diet rules as well. 
The major components of healthy diet include
  1. Carbohydrates
  2. Fats
  3. Proteins
Carbohydrates in particular have a substantial effect on blood sugar levels. You would also need to monitor your total calories intake, fat consumption and protein intake. Diabetes and obesity is also synonymous and this requires them to monitor how much food they actually end up consuming.
Some quick dietary tips for diabetics:
  • Eat smaller meals
  • Eat more complex carbs –  brown rice, whole wheat bread, veggies and legumes 
  • Overweight diabetics need a dietary regime which allows weight loss
  • Regular exercise helps the regulation of sugar levels and insulin.

 Diabetes and Glycaemic Index (GI)
The glycaemic index is the best indicator of how high your blood sugar levels will rise when you eat something. Technically speaking, the GI measures the level of rise of blood sugar levels with a 50-gram portion of food as compared to a base (pure glucose). All carbohydrates are digested and converted in the body to glucose, which causes a temporary rise in blood glucose levels or the glycaemic response.
Foods with glycaemic index more than 70 are rated as high, 56-69 as moderate, and less than 55 are rated as low. People should try to incorporate more low GI food items in their meals. Eating high GI food items can result in a sudden rise in sugar levels which is bad for diabetics. Also low glycaemic goods tend to be healthier, rich in vitamins, minerals and fibres and less refined – whole fruits, vegetables and beans.  It can also help you lose weight and lower body fat levels.
Here is how some common food items fare on the glycaemic index (The lower the glycaemic score, the better it is for diabetcis).
Food item (50g)
Glycaemic score
Maize chappati
Baked potato
White bread
Bajra (Millet)
Multi-grain bread
Basmati rice
Whole-wheat bread
Chana dal
It’s important to note that the glycaemic response is modified by factors such as the quantity of food, the cooking method, degree of processing of food and various other factors. It’s ideal you consult a dietician if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes. She/he can help you develop a personalised meal plan perfectly suited to your needs.
Living with diabetes is not hard, some exercise, medications and a proper diet can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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