Foods That Fight Series- Diabetes
Diabetes is a disease that is hard to understand until you understand how the body uses macro-nutrients, the role of insulin, and how the food in our culture are designed. Today I am going to briefly discuss what diabetes is, three foods that research suggest may help a person with diabetes, and how I eat these three foods today.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease in which 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 and urine. In a nutshell, a person with diabetes will have levels of blood glucose or blood sugar that is too high.
There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. People with type 1 diabetes cannot make insulin while people with type 2 diabetes don’t make or use insulin well enough to clear the blood sugar from the blood to the cells, thus leaving too much sugar in the blood. Type 2 is the most common type.
Serious problems and issues arise over time when there’s too much glucose left in the blood. Prolonged high blood glucose can lead to eye, kidney, and nerve damage. Diabetes can also lead to stroke, heart disease, and loss of limbs.
As with most diseases we face, our diet is one important way we may help control the symptoms, side effects, and even the disease itself. Research suggest that there may be some natural foods that can help control, prevent, or even reverse diabetes. I have chosen three foods that research shows can have a positive effect on combating your diabetes.
Salmon is rich in protein, omega-3 fats (DHA and EPA), vitamin D, and vitamin B-2 (riboflavin). The benefit of salmon or other fatty fish, like tuna and mackerel, over other forms of lean meat proteins is that the omega-3 fats in salmon or fatty fish may help reduce the risk of risk factors linked to diabetes such as stroke, heart disease, and blood vessels. The DHA and EPA contained in the omega-3 fats in salmon and fatty fish may reduce markers of inflammation and improve artery function.
Spinach is a good source of antioxidants, low in calories and digestible carbs, and a good source of vitamin C. The antioxidants in spinach may protect your eyes from complications of diabetes while the low digestible carbs will keep your blood sugars levels from spiking. Research shows that vitamin C may reduce inflammatory markers and fasting blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes.
Walnuts are a good source of fiber, folate, and omega –3 fats. Studies suggest that the walnuts, and consumption of a variety of nuts in general, may have anti-inflammation properties, lower blood sugar, and HbA1c levels. Studies also suggest that the polyunsaturated fats in walnuts may produce significantly greater reductions in fasting insulin levels.
What can you do with this great information I just gave you? Well, I’m so glad you asked. Provided you don’t have any allergies or health related issues with the three foods mentioned here and your doctor is okay with you eating these, your mission is to find exciting and healthy ways to eat these foods. Here are some of my favorite ways:
**Disclaimer** I don’t have diabetes and me sharing the ways I eat these foods is not a recommendation. My recommendation is for you to follow your doctor’s advice and if you decide to eat the listed foods the way I do, please adjust for your disposition.
Salmon: I eat my salmon grilled. Although the most common way I eat my salmon for convenience is over brown rice with some olive oil drizzled over it. I dash it with a little salt and pepper and enjoy. For tuna, I eat it mostly as tuna salad over brown rice also with olive oil drizzled over it
Spinach: I eat my as a side to a lean protein and complex carb. I also opt for spinach instead of iceberg lettuce when I am building my own sub sandwich. I like to add a splash of malt vinegar to my cooked spinach.
Walnuts: Instead of chips, grab some walnuts. I like to keep a bag of walnuts around for snacking throughout the day. I also like cooked oatmeal topped with chopped walnuts.
I hope this information has enlightened and helped you. Please “heart” this blog and feel free to comment with other ways you eat the foods listed here and other helpful information.
Brian "B-Rob" Robinson is a Certified Sports Nutrition Coach, Certified Life Strategies Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, Youtuber, and co-founder of LEANWellonline. His YouTube channel is called thisisb-rob.
The prevention and control the type-2 diabetes by changing lifestyle and dietary pattern. (n.d.). PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3977406/
Kondo K, Morino K, Nishio Y, et al. A fish-based diet intervention improves endothelial function in postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized crossover trial. Metabolism. 2014;63(7):930-940. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2014.04.005
Ellulu MS, Rahmat A, Patimah I, Khaza'ai H, Abed Y. Effect of vitamin C on inflammation and metabolic markers in hypertensive and/or diabetic obese adults: a randomized controlled trial. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2015;9:3405-3412. Published 2015 Jul 1. doi:10.2147/DDDT.S83144
Tapsell LC, Batterham MJ, Teuss G, et al. Long-term effects of increased dietary polyunsaturated fat from walnuts on metabolic parameters in type II diabetes. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009;63(8):1008-1015. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2009.19