MILLIONS of people across the UK suffer with diabetes and it can be a difficult condition to live with.
No matter how hard you try, at times it can feel as though you’re fighting a losing battle when it comes to your diet.
Diabetics have to pay particular attention to what they consume as they need to keep their glucose levels at a normal range.
With type 1 diabetes, a person’s pancreas produces no insulin.
In type 2, cells in the body become resistant to insulin, so a greater amount is needed to keep blood glucose levels within a normal range.
The NHS said that very high blood sugar levels can cause life-threatening complications such as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) which can lead to a diabetic coma.
With diet so high on a diabetic’s priority list, one expert has revealed the five foods diabetics should avoid – or at the very least, moderate in consumption.
Speaking to The Sun Lifesum’s Dr Alona Pulde said diabetics need to opt for healthier alternatives.
1. Butter –
Dr Pulde said that the saturated fat in dairy products, like butter, prevents insulin from delivering glucose (sugar) into the cells.
She explained that as a result, it accumulates in the blood leading to high blood sugar and eventually diabetes.
“In addition to butter, avoid full fat dairy products such as whole milk, cream, cheese, yogurt and ice-cream.
“Depending on what you are using butter for, some healthier alternatives include avocado, sweet potato or pumpkin puree, apple sauce, and mashed bananas,” Dr Pulde said.
Oil is a high fat processed food and fat is a primary contributor to insulin resistance leading to elevated blood sugars and ultimately diabetes, Dr Pulde said.
“This is especially so for oils high in saturated fat such as palm oil and coconut oil.
“Relying heavily on oily and greasy foods increases your risk for heart disease as well as diabetes.
“When cooking try low-sodium broths and sauces as substitutes for oil,” she said.
3. Fast foods
Everyone should eat fast foods in moderation, but sticking to this can be hard as they meet both the needs for pleasure and ease.
Dr Pulde said that while they might be an easy option, fast foods are loaded with fat, sugar and salt.
She explained: “All of these ingredients increase the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.
“The good news is you can eat foods you love without sacrificing your health.
“Apps like Lifesum can help you find healthy versions of your favorite foods that promote health and decrease your risk of diabetes and other chronic diseases.”
Know your levels
Diabetics are urged to monitor their sugar levels and if you’re diabetic it’s likely you will have been given a device so you can do this at home.
You will be told what your average blood sugar level is and this is referred to as your HbA1c level.
While they differ for everyone, the NHS says that if you monitor your levels at home then a normal target is 4 to 7mmol/l before eating and under 8.5 to 9mmol/l 2 hours after a meal.
If it’s tested every few months then a normal HbA1c target is below 48mmol/mol (or 6.5% on the older measurement scale).
4. Processed meats
In addition to the high fat content, certain preservatives in processed red meats including hot dogs, sausage, and bacon result in these foods interfering with insulin’s normal functioning, Dr Pulde explained.
She said that when insulin cannot drive glucose (sugar) into the cells it accumulates in the blood and raises our blood sugar ultimately leading to diabetes.
5. Packaged and processed snacks and baked goods
The list here might lead you to clearing out your snack cupboard as foods like crisps, crackers, biscuits and donuts are all on the naughty list when it comes to foods you should be avoiding.
Dr Pulde said that in general, processed foods are high in fat, sugar, salt and low in vitamins, minerals, and fibre.
She said: “As a result, they contribute to spikes in blood sugar along with insulin resistance. In addition, processing foods increases their caloric density by removing water and fibre.
“Thus, they pack in a lot of calories in a little bit of food. Eating these foods regularly confuses our hunger signals and they lose the ability to appropriately shut off. Over time this leads to weight gain, a known risk factor for diabetes.
“To prevent and/or improve diabetes, replace these foods with healthy versions of your favorite snacks.”
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