Coffee and cinnamon have made headlines recently as foods that might be able
to cut the risk of diabetes or help to improve blood sugar levels. But don't
get the idea that such foods are magic bullets for your diabetic
diet, experts warn.
"None of this is a magic potion for diabetes," says American
Dietetic Association spokeswoman Cathy Nonas, RD. It's still important for
people with diabetes to eat a balanced diabetic diet
to help manage the disease, she says.
Sometimes, living with diabetes can seem like a full-time job -- trying to
keep up with everything you need to do for proper diabetes care.
"Diabetes is a very time-consuming disease to manage well," says
Karmeen Kulkarni, MS, RD, CDE, and former president of health care and
education for the American Diabetes Association. "The medication, the food,
the physical activity -- you add life in general to that whole picture and it
ends up being quite challenging."
Nevertheless, some foods, such as white bread, are converted almost right
away to blood sugar, causing a quick spike. Other foods, such as brown rice,
are digested more slowly, causing a lower and gentler change in blood
If you are trying to follow a healthy diabetic diet, here are six that may
help to keep your blood sugar in check.
Oatmeal can help control blood sugar -- but don't get the sweetened
"Even though it's a carbohydrate, it's a very good carbohydrate,"
American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Marisa Moore, RD, LD, tells WebMD.
Because it's high in soluble fiber, "it's slower to digest and it won't
raise your blood sugar as much or as quickly. It's going to work better at
controlling blood sugar over time."
Not only does this high-quality carbohydrate offer a steadier source of
energy than white bread, it can also help with weight
loss. The soluble fiber in oats "helps to keep us feeling fuller
longer," Moore says.
That's important for people with type 2
diabetes, who tend to be overweight. "If you reduce the weight, you usually significantly improve the glucose
control," Nonas says.
Barley isn't as popular as oats. But there's some evidence that barley,
which is also high in soluble fiber, may also help with blood glucose control.
Kay Behall, PhD, a research nutritionist at the USDA Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, has studied barley, and she
suggests that people try eating boiled pearl barley in place of rice.
Besides oats and barley, Moore adds, "most whole grains are going to be
a great choice for a person with diabetes."
Broccoli, Spinach, and Green Beans
Add plenty of nonstarchy vegetables, such
as broccoli, spinach, and green beans, to your diabetic diet, diabetes experts
say. These foods are high in fiber and low in carbohydrates, which make them
ideal for people with diabetes.
In contrast, starchy vegetables include
peas, potatoes, corn, winter squash, and lima beans. There's no need to cut
them from the diet, Moore says. "They do give us additional nutrients. We
want to maintain balance." But because starchy vegetables have more
carbohydrates and raise blood sugar more, it's important to stick to proper
portion sizes, she says.
There's new evidence, too, that vegetables
are healthy for people with diabetes.
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If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
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