If you are a diabetic, then food management surely forms an intrinsic part of your daily life. Finding the right balance between all the ‘empty calorie’-filled foods and the healthy foods is a tricky affair. While eating the healthy way is essential for diabetes management, have you ever wondered if your blood sugar levels may be better controlled if you go vegetarian?
Before we explore how vegetarian diet helps control diabetes, let us learn how non-vegetarian diet affects your blood sugar levels.
How Non-Vegetarian Food Affects Your Blood Sugar
Pork, chicken, beef, seafood, eggs, turkey, etc. are the major sources of non vegetarian diet. Though they are excellent sources of animal protein, most of them are high in fat content, especially red meat. They increase your bad cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Eating foods with high fat content also elevates your blood sugar.
Doctors advise diabetics to eat egg white and chicken to keep up their protein intake. But if you cook them in generous quantities of clarified butter or hydrogenated oil, then they will surely backfire on your diabetes management plan. It serves your case best if you eat small portions of white meat cooked in minimal or no oil, broiled or roasted. In this manner a non-veggie diet would probably not have an adverse effect on your blood sugar.
7 Reasons Why a Vegetarian Diet is Good for Diabetics
For a diabetic person, the platter should contain 60% fibre content, 20% carbs and 20% protein content. Let us understand the advantages of becoming a vegetarian.
1. Full of nutrients and fibre:
A vegetarian diet is rich in fibre content that aids digestion and prevents blood sugar from rising quickly. It helps release sugar from food very slowly into your bloodstream, which prevents sudden rise in blood glucose levels. Vegetables are rich in multi nutrients like Vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium etc. which provides complete nourishment and loads of energy.
2. Low in cholesterol and fat:
Since being a diabetic increases your risk factor for developing heart disease, it becomes very crucial to keep your LDL cholesterol levels low. The type of food you eat makes the crucial difference to your heart health.
If you eat raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, whole grains etc. or cook the dishes in minimal oil, they help lower your cholesterol. They contain monounsaturated fats that increase the good HDL cholesterol and reduce the bad LDL cholesterol levels. Veggie foods are also low in fat content unlike non vegetarian fare, so they help keep your blood sugar in check.
3. Aids digestion and boosts metabolism:
A vegetarian diet is full of fibre and water content that enhances your digestion. It helps detoxify your liver and kidneys and puts less strain on them. This helps manage the blood sugar better as the liver and kidneys are able to flush out the toxins from your body.
A non vegetarian diet, on the other hand, takes much longer to digest and increases the uric acid levels in your body. The high level of uric acid puts extra stress on your kidneys.
If you eat veggie fare which are non oily and non spicy, then your metabolism goes on an upswing. You feel the surge of energy for a long time and stay active.
4. Lowers insulin:
As a diabetic, you have to keep your insulin levels low. Insulin stimulates fat cells to absorb glucose and convert it into energy or fat. When you eat too much, more insulin is produced to transport the glucose to the cells. And when energy is unused, the cells store it as fat and you put on more weight. A fibrous veggie diet helps keeps your insulin under control.
5. Stabilises blood sugar:
When you eat fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts or seeds, they get processed slowly and release glucose very gradually into your bloodstream. This prevents sudden spikes in your blood sugar.
In the same way, a veggie diet stops your blood sugar from plummeting down. Hypoglycemia if not taken care of in time may cause you to lose consciousness and make you slip into a diabetic coma or even death.
6. Helps lose weight:
Being overweight or obese is one of the reasons for high blood sugar levels. Most fruit and vegetables are excellent sources of fibre, nutrients, vitamins and full of water content. After eating a veggie meal your tummy feels full for a long time and stops the craving for foods like chips, chocolates, French fries etc. that are full of empty calories.
7. Gives high energy:
Diabetics often feel fatigued, low on energy and suffer from anxiety and depression. These symptoms appear as the sugar levels go too high or too low. A vegetarian diet is nutritious and filling, and releases glucose gradually into your bloodstream. It consistently maintains your energy levels and keeps you active. It is therefore advised to eat 5-6 veggie meals every 4-5 hours to keep up the vigour.
A handful of almonds or a dash of strawberries mixed with fresh non fat yoghurt make a healthy snack, which boosts your energy levels without raising your blood sugar. A veggie diet keeps you high on energy without adding extra sugar to your meal.
Leafy greens like spinach, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale and broccoli, bitter gourd, bottle gourd, ridged gourd, asparagus, tomatoes, onion, soy, bell peppers, carrots, radish, avocado, berries, apples, garlic, coriander, flaxseed, quinoa, oatmeal, whole grains, green tea, nuts, olive oil, low fat dairy products etc. are some of the power foods that will boost your energy without spiking your blood sugar.
They are a storehouse of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, fibre and other nutrients. Make them a part of your daily diet and make your diabetes management plan a cakewalk!
If you know lip smacking healthy veggie snack recipes for diabetics, do share them with us!