Carefully planning meals is a simple and effective strategy for management of various aspects of diabetes. Knowing the best food for someone with diabetes can help promote good health. In Ayurveda, diabetes mellitus is known as Madhumeha and there are two ways it manifests: excess Vata Dosha and subsequent tissue depletion (dhatukshya) is one way diabetes develops. Obstruction of the channels (srotas) because of excess Kapha Dosha and fatty tissue (Kapha Meda Avarana) is another cause of diabetes.
Both of these causes increase Vata dosha which may manifest over time as diabetes mellitus. What can you do? What should you eat?
Meal Planning for Diabetes
The meal plan should be based on one receiving 50 to 60 percent of the daily calories from carbohydrates, 15 percent from proteins and the remainder from fats or oils for optimum health. The World Health Organization recommends a minimum consumption of 5 – 10 portions of fruits and vegetables per day. Lessen or completely avoid for a time fat, excess salt, alcohol and caffeine.
Emphasize eating whole grain bread, oatmeal, brown rice, pasta, beans, peas, lentils, apples, oranges, sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peaches, pears, grapefruit, oranges, sweet corn and dark leafy green vegetables. All of the foods listed here have a low glycemic index and provide key nutrients.
1. Go For High Fiber
Aim for 40 grams of fiber a day. Consume beans, vegetables and fruit. Especially emphasize legumes such as lentils and leafy vegetables like kale.
2. Eat Whole Grains
Whole grains can effectively regulate the glycemic response, increase insulin sensitivity, improve pancreatic function and increase insulin secretion. Whole wheat pasta and bread, brown rice, multigrain crackers, oatmeal, corn, millet, barley and rye are all good options.
According to Ayurveda, barley (yava) is the best grain for managing diabetes. Different preparations of barley can be taken such as barley cooked with water (mantha), barley porridge (vatya) and barley pancakes (apupa), just to name a few! Ayurveda prescribes old rice (purana shali), as one of the cereals beneficial to diabetic patients.
3. Eat (Lots) of Fruits And Vegetables
Regular and conscious consumption of fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables in diabetic patients can lead to an improved glycemic control, reduced HbA1c and triglyceride levels, an enhanced antioxidant defense system, a decreased risk of diabetic retinopathy and it can lower the burden of carotid atherosclerosis.
Fruits To Emphasize
Apples, peaches, pears, grapefruit, grapes, oranges, melon, dried apricots, raisins, kiwi, berries, cranberry, blackberries, black raspberries, blueberries, red raspberries, strawberries, cherries, barberries, plums, pomegranates, bananas, avocadoes, persimmon, guava, papaya, kokum fruit, jackfruit, acai, goji, watermelon, dates and figs.
Avoid olives and pineapples and fruit juices, which typically have a lot of sugar in them. Instead opt for whole fruits, as they contain more fiber and are more filling. Absolutely avoid canned fruits that are typically covered in syrup.
Eat green leafy vegetables; eat an abundance fresh vegetables like tomato, cucumber, carrot, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, kale, collard, squash, green beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, artichokes. Avoid white potatoes.
Ayurveda recommends all types of bitter vegetables as some of the best vegetables for diabetics. Bitter vegetables include bitter gourd, fenugreek, pointed gourd, garlic, cluster fig tree or Indian fig. You can also have bitter greens like arugula, kale, dandelions and beet greens. Other bitter vegetables you might like are bitter melon which is excellent fried, rapini, radicchio and endive.
4. Cook With Spices
Fresh, high-quality spices have beneficial physiological effects. The anti-diabetic effects of spices include short-term hypoglycemia and long-term improved glucose tolerance.
Fenugreek seeds, garlic, turmeric, cumin seeds, ginger, onions, mustard, curry leaves, cinnamon and coriander have all been reported to possess potential anti-diabetic agents. You can add these spices to your meals by sauteing them in oil quickly before adding your beans, vegetables and grains.
5. Eat Lean Protein
Fish is rich in omega-3’s which helps to protect against heart disease in people with diabetes. Opt for fresh fish, skinless chicken and turkey, lean meats with the fat trimmed, wild game and tofu and eggs, if you're vegan or vegetarian.
According to Ayurveda, eating deer, rabbit and poultry are especially beneficial for diabetes. You can check with local farms and online to find these more unusual items.
6. Legumes! Yum!
Legumes have a low glycemic index and are high in fiber and phytochemicals. This makes them a functional food for diabetic patients. The hypoglycemic effect of beans has been reported as being similar to those of anti-diabetic drugs. Eat beans like pinto, dark red kidney and black beans, as well as lentils and split peas.
7. Go Nuts (And Seeds)
Almonds, pistachios, walnuts and hazelnuts are commonly used with diabetic people. Most current evidence reveals that consumption of nuts in type 2 diabetic patients has beneficial effects on postprandial glycemic response following high-carbohydrate meals and they also improve insulin resistance. It's also just a great, low-fat snack.
Flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are filled with good fats like omega 3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber that work together to keep blood sugar low and stave off heart disease.
8. Oils & Fats
According to Ayurveda, mustard oil is the best. Olive, coconut, avocado, sesame and sunflower oil, light peanut butter, unsalted nuts, cocoa powder or a small piece of dark chocolate can be taken to get these essential nutrients. Remember to use organic products when possible.
9. Limit (Or Completely Avoid) Liquor
Limit alcohol to less than 2 drinks per week when suffering from diabetes. It is not a good idea to drink on an empty stomach, especially if you take insulin or medications. According to Ayurveda, aged wine is beneficial in small, controlled amounts. Please note that drinking any alcohol AT ALL is not recommended if you have high triglycerides (blood fats), high blood pressure, liver problems, are pregnant or breastfeeding.
10. Sweets & Snacks (In Very Small Amounts)
Only eat organic, high-quality sweets, such as dark chocolate. Avoid candy with chemicals and tons of sugar. Homemade popcorn without salt, butter, or hydrogenated oils is a good choice. Choose low fat, low sugar snack foods.
All views and information shared here is only for the sharing of Ayurvedic knowledge. Please do not try or prescribe or take any of the remedies and suggestions here without talking to your regular, qualified doctor. Kottakkal Ayurveda and no other person associated with Kottakkal is responsible for unwanted side-effects or contraindications in your health.