Type 2 Diabetes and Plant-Based Diets
Plant-based diets are full of naturally healthy fiber. Fiber moves through your system, taking waste materials and other unneeded compounds, toxins and poisons with it. Fiber makes you feel full longer, which leads to fewer calories eaten during the day. A high-fiber diet promotes healthy digestion and can help diabetics control blood sugar levels.
Plant-based foods are consistently ranked as the healthiest for human consumption. They are full of the wonderful nutrients your body craves and can lead to mental, physical and emotional stability, health and well-being.
The most important nutrition studies of all time have told us what your parents evidently knew … when you eat your fruits and vegetables, as mom and dad consistently preached, you give yourself the best chance at a long and healthy life.
For all these reasons and more, eating plant-based foods as opposed to processed and fast foods makes so much sense for someone who has already received a pre-diabetes or diabetes diagnosis. The problem is, people don’t eat enough unprocessed, minimally cooked fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and other plant-based foods.
As far as fiber is concerned, you need a minimum of 25 g per day on a regular basis. The optimal range if you are under 50 years old is more than 25 g for women, and more than 35 g for men.
Plant-based foods additionally deliver phytonutrients, minerals, essential fatty acids, enzymes, vitamins and other health-boosting chemicals and compounds which are simply not found in most processed foods. This means a plant-based diet promotes health and well-being from head to toe, inside and out, in both diabetics and non-diabetic individuals.
The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet for Diabetics
- Weight Loss Because You Consume Fewer Calories
Plant-based foods are full of dietary fiber, as mentioned above. This means you feel full longer after eating than if you chose nutrient-poor, fiber-poor fast foods and processed foods. This leads to consuming fewer calories and carbohydrates throughout the day. That practice can lead to weight loss if you are overweight, a problem that diabetics routinely face.
- Healthy Blood Glucose Levels
High-fiber foods help regulate healthy blood sugar levels. Plant-based foods are high in fiber (we keep beating that drum, but it is an important point to make). Blood sugar spikes can be deadly to a diabetic. Eating lots of fresh, plant-based foods can help naturally regulate how much glucose your body absorbs, keeping you healthy.
- You Get Plenty of Essential Minerals
Diabetics are often deficient in potassium, magnesium, folate, vitamin C and vitamin E. These and other essential minerals, vitamins and nutrients are found in high quantities in plant-based foods. The key here is to eat a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains to ensure you give your body all of the health-boosters it needs to help you manage your diabetes.
- Diabetes Prevention
The International Diabetes Federation agrees with other global health authorities when they say type 2 diabetes, the form of diabetes diagnosed in 90% to 95% of all diabetes patients, is entirely preventable by eating predominantly a plant-based diet. If you have not been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes, adopting a healthy plant-based diet now can keep you from developing this serious health condition.
A High Fiber Diet for Managing Diabetes
You may have heard about eating a high-fiber diet if you want to manage your diabetes effectively. This works because of the way your body processes dietary fiber. Nutritionists, general practitioners and doctors that specialize in treating diabetes patients all agree a diet rich in fiber is essential to minimize the impact diabetes has on your life. Let’s look at exactly how dietary fiber helps those with diabetes stay healthy.
How Fiber Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels
Treating diabetes means taking action to regulate a healthy blood sugar level. A diabetic diagnosis is made when blood glucose levels are consistently lower or higher than the healthy range. Nerve damage, kidney failure, vision problems and other serious health conditions can develop when diabetes is not treated properly. So, effective treatment is a must. One straightforward way to help keep your diabetes in check is to give your body more fiber.
Here is what happens when you eat fiber.
Foods with plenty of fiber, like vegetables, fruits and whole grains aids in sustaining a healthy digestive process. They contain lignin, pectin, cellulose and other natural components that are resistant to the enzymes used to digest the foods that you eat. This is one of the reasons fiber is good for relieving constipation. Also called roughage or bulk, dietary fiber is either soluble or insoluble.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It is found in beans, apples, carrots, citrus fruits, barley and oats. This type of fiber naturally lowers your cholesterol level if it is high. This promotes heart health. Soluble fiber is also good for helping you manage a healthy glucose level.
Insoluble fiber helps keep you “regular”. This is the fiber found in whole-wheat flour and grains, wheat bran, cauliflower, potatoes and nuts. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, and is not digested by your body. It passes through your system mostly intact, attaching itself to waste products, toxins and other unhealthy chemicals. It carries these health-deterrents out of your body, and can help you reach and manage a healthy body weight.
Most plant-based foods contain some amounts of both insoluble and soluble fiber. Since both types of fiber contribute to healthy diabetes management, you should eat a wide variety of high-fiber, plant-based foods. This ensures you get plenty of both types of fiber in your system, giving you the best chance to manage your diabetes naturally.
The Benefits of a High-Fiber Diet
Whether you are diabetic, prediabetic or otherwise healthy, your body can benefit from lots of fiber. When you get the daily recommended dose of 25 g of fiber regularly, you cut your risk of stroke by 7%. You slow your body’s absorption of glucose, which means you keep blood sugar spikes under control. Regularly getting more than the minimum 25 g of fiber each day leads to healthy weight loss, and can lower your risk of developing kidney stones by as much as 22%.
For every 7 g of fiber you consume, you drop your risk of debilitating and possibly deadly heart disease by 9%. In addition to effective diabetes management, that means consuming 28 g of fiber daily lowers your risk of developing any heart disease by at least 36%.
Avoid simple carbohydrates like refined sugar and processed foods, and eat more naturally healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. Drink sufficient water daily to aid in the digestive process, and your high-fiber diet will keep you feeling full longer, and avoiding the dangerous blood glucose spikes and drops which are problematic to diabetics.