Superfood Benefits – Diabetes/Blood Sugar Control
Blood sugar is an essential measure of your health. Excess sugar in the blood is the common factor in all types of diabetes including pre-diabetes. Even though sugar is commonly depicted badly, it’s not always bad. Many foods break down into blood sugar (or glucose), which is used for energy to fuel your brain, heart, and muscles.
Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps your body turn blood sugar (glucose) into energy. Without insulin, your body can't use or store glucose for energy. Instead, the glucose remains in your blood. A condition called insulin resistance develops when excess glucose in the blood reduces the ability of the cells to absorb and use blood sugar for energy. In people with insulin resistance, the cells are unable to use the hormone insulin effectively, leading to elevated blood sugar levels.
If you're struggling to manage your blood sugar levels, you’re not alone. According to data, 1 in 7 Singaporean adults has pre-diabetes (pre-diabetes could very well develop into Type 2 diabetes over time). The good news is studies have shown that adopting a healthier diet, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can reverse pre-diabetes, as well as reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Here are our dietary recommendations to control blood sugar levels:
1. Eat three meals a day at regular times. This helps you better use the insulin that your body produces. It is important to choose portion sizes that suit your needs, according to your size and activity level. Avoid extra ‘empty’ calories your body does not need like a sweetened canned drink at the end of the meal. For portion sizes of the foods to eat, pls refer to the general guidelines laid out in the Healthy Plate.
2. Make your calories count with whole, nutrient-dense foods that have a low glycemic index (GI) Choose
- Complex carbohydrates (low GI) such as whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, millet etc), low-sugar fruits and vegetables, seeds (chia seeds, flax seeds), legumes (beans and peas).
- Fiber-rich foods (low-sugar fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts). Low sugar fruits are like berries, kiwi, cherries, papaya, dragon fruit, etc.). Eat more vegetables than fruits.
- Good fats(avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, olive oil, omega-rich fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, etc). Be mindful of the portion sizes as fats are higher in calories than protein/carbs, and help you feel full longer.
You do not need to go on a high-protein diet as research has shown that increasing protein intake does not have a significant impact on how sugar is digested or absorbed in the body.
3. Sneak these superfood spices into your daily foods: Ceylon Cinnamon, Turmeric, Raw Ginger, Fenugreek. These powerful spices are traditionally known for centuries to have blood sugar-lowering benefits.
4. Avoid or reduce intake of these foods (which are usually nutritionally poor) :
Simple carbohydrates/ high-GI foods like white bread, white rice, cakes, pastries, sweetened beverages, soda, desserts high in refined sugar, etc. These foods drive up blood sugar levels very quickly.
Highly processed foods, especially meats like hot dogs, sausage and bacon. These processed meats, which are usually high in sodium and nitrate preservatives, are linked to higher risks of heart disease and diabetes.
Trans fats: avoid trans fats found in processed snacks, baked goods, shortening and margarine.