Diabetes is characterized by excessive sugar levels in the blood: we speak of hyperglycemia, a condition that causes various complications in the body. To counter the effects of this chronic disease, the establishment of a good diet has largely proven its worth. What diet for seniors, what foods are prohibited, how to adapt their menus according to type 1 or 2? Diabetes and a balanced diet: everything you need to know!
Diabetes and a balanced diet:an effective treatment
In type 2 diabetes, the development of the disease is due to the combination of hereditary and environmental factors, such as a sedentary lifestyle or an unsuitable diet. Thus, the excess of fast sugars or saturated fats promotes overweight, an open door to many diseases. Situations of overweight, obesity or smoking can be discussed with the attending physician, who will help set clear goals and maintain motivation.
To treat diabetes, we try to rebalance the level of sugar in the blood. The first action is to adapt your lifestyle:a balanced diet is the first non-drug treatment to put in place. Today, we no longer talk about a special diabetic diet. We simply favor nutritious foods useful for good health, which will form the basis of daily meals. “Pleasure” foods will remain occasional (we can reserve them for festive meals or invitations). Limiting the hyperglycemic effect of sugary products has multiple interests:
- Stabilize your blood sugar level;
- Reduce cardiovascular risks;
- Keep your weight in shape;
- Avoid the development of complications or limit their consequences.
To maximize the health effects, the balanced diet must be accompanied by sufficient physical activity. In summary, we will therefore make sure to eat a variety of meals and at regular times, with menus containing foods from each major group, giving pride of place to seasonal vegetables. Beyond the generalities, each different type of diabetes corresponds to a particular diet, which will optimize the benefits over time.
What diet for type 1 diabetes?
Treated with insulin, type 1 diabetics adapt their diet in parallel. It is the content of the meal that will determine the dose of insulin to be taken: the treatment is therefore adapted to the diet of the patient, who must know his needs perfectly and be rigorous.
Far from draconian diets, the main measures to take ultimately correspond to what we should all do to move towards a better lifestyle. The fundamental rule is to follow a balanced diet, in line with the level of physical activity, and to distribute the sugar intake over the day.
The children and adolescents concerned must ensure their growth, using a diet based on foods with a low GI (Glycemic Index), rich in vitamins and minerals. Many foods meet these needs perfectly, for example lentils, fresh peas, raw vegetables, natural juices, plums, apples, etc.
We will always prefer the carbohydrates present in pulses or whole grains, rather than those in sweets. Breakfast is often the meal that causes the highest blood sugar spike of the day: whole grains and low GI fruits are good alternatives to pastries and fruit juices. In general, all refined products should be avoided because they are both caloric and not very nutritious.
Fatty foods will be reduced, and fish put on the menu two to three times a week. Finally, foods rich in fiber slow down the absorption of sugars: remember at each meal fruits, vegetables and other quality natural products, as little processed as possible.
What diet for type 2 diabetes?
Several studies have shown that a strict diet of whole foods and plant-based products is effective. Type 2 diabetics can thus limit their consumption of drugs, or even eliminate them.
The main dietary rules consist in choosing foods capable of providing the body with just what it needs, while stabilizing blood sugar levels. To adapt your diet, the keys are simple:
- Reduce consumption of fatty foods
Replace meat with legumes, interesting thanks to their natural carbohydrates and proteins. Oily fish are recommended, thanks to their Omega-3 (mackerel, Atlantic salmon, trout, etc.).
- Increase foods high in fiber and antioxidants:
Bread and starchy foods (from whole grains or pulses), vegetables (sweet potatoes, broccoli, green beans, etc.), fruits (dried apricots, peach, pear, etc.).
- A drink of alcohol during the meal is acceptable, only if the blood sugar level is balanced.
At the same time, certain foods should be banned (increased risk of hypoglycemia and harmful effects on the body in the long term):
– Foods rich in added sugars (breakfast cereals, sweet yoghurts, sauces, cakes, etc.);
– Saturated fatty acids: rather select cheeses and lean meats, and limit butter and cream;
– Processed industrial foods (additives, glucose-fructose syrup, etc.): cook your meals as much as possible using raw products.
Thus, there are no standard menus dedicated to diabetics. Everyone must test and adopt the foods that suit them, without eliminating the pleasure aspect. Advice from a dietician is often helpful at first, and reading labels is essential to know what you are actually buying.