What to avoid
Avoid refined sugar and refined carbohydrates (baked goods, white bread and pasta) as they have a high Glycemic index (which means they’ll raise blood sugar very quickly) as well as sodas and sweet drinks, which are filled with artificial sweeteners and preservatives that will inevitably lead to hormonal imbalance and a blood sugar spike. Switch to whole grains when possible.
Also, reduce stimulants like caffeine and nicotine that cause our blood sugar to rise due to a surge in adrenaline.
What to eat
Vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale and other leafy greens are high in dietary fibre and rich in magnesium, which both help to regulate blood sugar levels, slowing down energy release and glucose absorption. Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash are not only absolutely delicious, but they contain much more fibre than regular white potatoes. They can also be a good option for people dealing with blood sugar balancing problems.
Choose tasty, low-carb veggies, like mushrooms, onions, eggplant, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, and low-carb squashes, like zucchini.
Add your greens to salads, experiment with different varieties and pair them with a citrus vinaigrette or herb dressing. Steam or roast your broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts and sprinkle them with lemon juice or chilli as a snack or drizzle with tahini as a side dish.
kale, spinach, and chard. They’re healthy, delicious, and low-carb.
Whole grains like oats, brown rice or buckwheat are helpful for blood sugar levels because they are high in soluble fibre and are slower to digest. Slower digestion creates a smaller fluctuation in blood sugar compared with refined carbohydrates. Quinoa and millet are also great options, as they are high in plant protein, which help sustain energy without crashing blood sugar.
Start your day with a nice bowl of oatmeal topped with berries and cinnamon or mix up your oat game by trying millet and quinoa porridge. Use whole grains to make some tasty veggie burgers or simply mix them with some sautéed vegetables topped with fresh basil or mint.
A study done by Lund University in Sweden states that:
dietary fibres found in barley can help reduce your appetite as well as high blood sugar levels.
Whole grains like oats, brown rice or millets like jowar and ragi
contain both soluble and insoluble fibre that helps with sugar control.
Cut up a lemon or cucumber and put it in your water, or make ice cubes with some flavoring in them. And remember plain water is always good.
If you’re not a hot tea drinker, try cold tea with lemon or a cinnamon
According to a study done by the University College Dublin in Ireland,
resistant starch found in foods such as bananas, potatoes, grains and legumes, may benefit your health by aiding blood sugar control, supporting gut health and enhancing satiety. This is a form of starch that is not digested in the small intestine and is, therefore, considered a type of dietary fiber.
According to a study published in the journal BMJ Open,
include at least 50 grams of almonds, cashews, chestnuts, walnuts or pistachios in your daily diet to control high levels of blood fats (triglycerides) and sugars.
Nuts contain unsaturated fats, proteins and a range of vitamins and minerals that lower cholesterol, inflammation and insulin resistance.
Bitter gourd contains an insulin-like compound called Polypeptide-p or p-insulin which has been shown to control diabetes naturally. A report issued in the Journal of Chemistry & Biology:
consumption of bitter gourd tends to increase the uptake of glucose and improves glycemic control.
Proteins from vegetarian sources like dals, paneer or besan help control blood sugar levels. Whole dals like rajma, Kabuli chana, sabut moong, and masoor are recommended at least once daily. Studies have proven that proteins have a neutral effect on blood glucose levels."
Amla contains chromium which regulates carbohydrate metabolism and helps in making your body more responsive to insulin.
Legumes: Think black, pinto, kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils. These are all high in fibre, complex carbohydrates and protein, keeping blood sugar nice and steady.
Substitute legumes for foods that are high in saturated fats or refined carbohydrates to help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and cholesterol. Make sure to soak and rinse them before cooking to ease digestion.
Cinnamon reduces cardiovascular disease risk by improving triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels.
Sprinkle cinnamon on your porridge or on your slice of wholegrain toast with nut butter and banana. You can also try experimenting by adding it to savoury dishes like soups and curries. And try some cinnamon tea when you get that craving for something sweet. Just infuse a cup of boiling water with a couple of whole cinnamon sticks for 5-10 minutes.
Berries: Compounds contained in berries, such as blueberries, raspberries or blackberries to name a few, increase sensitivity to insulin and may reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Plus they’re a powerhouse of plant antioxidants to protect your skin, cells and boost the immune system.
Add them to smoothies, munch on them as a snack and as topping for your favourite granola or yogurt. A delicious treat is mixing a cup of coconut yogurt with half a cup of your favourite berries, some vanilla and cinnamon or any spice you like, and fill an ice cube tray with the mixture. Freeze for half an hour, pop out and enjoy!
Avocados are full of mono-unsaturated fat, the kind that helps slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream, promoting less insulin release.
Create a tasty guacamole or blend them to make a creamy dressing with some lime juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. And if you’re in the mood for dessert, mix it with some cacao powder and a banana for a creamy and sweet mousse.
Spices: Turmeric, ginger, coriander, ground curry leaves or cumin seeds all have diabetes-fighting properties, improving insulin sensitivity and metabolism of both glucose and cholesterol, reducing blood sugar and insulin levels.
Alessandra Felice concludes:
Healthy fats help to slow down digestion, which can help to prevent blood sugar spikes. Good sources of healthy fat include nuts and seeds, avocado, flax and chia seeds, plus cold pressed and unrefined oils, such as olive, coconut, avocado.
Protein works in a similar way to fat, as it slows down digestion and promotes blood sugar regulation. Good sources are legumes, nuts and seeds especially hemp and chia, soy (pick fermented products where it’s possible), peas and plant-based protein powders.
Fibre, which is naturally contained in plant foods, helps to balance blood sugar by slowing the time it takes for carbohydrates to be digested, therefore slowing the release of glucose into the blood stream. Many soluble fibres can also be fermented by intestinal bacteria and improve insulin sensitivity. Examples are flaxseeds, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, collard greens, broccoli, squash, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, chicory and beets.
Other good sources of fibre are whole grains like quinoa, brown rice and oats.
Important point: Apart from these foods, it is important to indulge in some kind of exercise daily as physical activity increases insulin sensitivity. This simply means that exercising regularly helps your body to use up the available sugar in your blood stream and move it to the tissues and muscles where it can be properly utilized and stored.
Enjoy enough sleeping time. The recommend 7-8 hours are not only good for fighting fatigue and mood swings but for improving hormonal regulation, and therefore blood sugar as well.
This answer cites
- Dr. Rupali Datta, Consultant,Dietetics and Nutrition
Alessandra Felice, Registered Nutritional Therapist, Medicinal and Plant based Chef, Trainer and Consultant, Nutritional Content Writer
Maggie Powers, PhD, president-elect 2016 of Health Care & Education at the American Diabetes Association