Nutrition is such a important topic when it comes to the disease of diabetes. The obvious impact of the food we eat when we are dealing with dysregulated blood sugar should be first and foremost in our minds. The unfortunate part is that the conventional approach to nutritional counseling for diabetics falls very short of what is truly needed to educate patients who are dealing with this health concern. The recommendations that are presently being made based on medical science that has been clinically proven to be unsuccessful, needs to be moved past. The purpose of this post is to give you a starting to point to begin educating yourself on choices that you have which can create immediate impact on your blood sugar.
Top 3 foods to eat
#1- Animal protein– I can imagine the shock this may have for a few people given the fact that we are in the midst of a climate revolution and the questioning of how our lifestyle choices are affecting the environment. Well, what I can tell you is that there is no better food to stabilize blood glucose levels than animal protein. This is based solely on my clinical experience and the results I get with my patients. I want you to know that not all protein are made the same. 10 grams of protein from peas is different than the 10 grams of protein from fish or chicken. I would argue that the response that animal protein has on blood sugar versus the plant based protein, is 30x more effective at keeping the blood glucose levels stabilized. The important thing to remember when eating animal protein is that you do not need to eat a lot in one sitting. It is actually more important to eat small amounts more frequently through the day than larger amounts at one time.
#2-Leafy greens– By now I am assume most people are clear about the fact that green things are good for us when it comes to food. The mineral and nutrient density found within green leafy vegetables provides the body with the resources to aid in metabolism. It really is all about minerals when it comes to the metabolism (vitamins are important as well but not as much as minerals are). Proper mineralization helps maintain proper pH balance in the body. Regulation of pH allows for enzymatic function to take place. If the pH is off even by a few points, metabolism begins to slow down. When metabolism slows down, this causes blood glucose levels to be maintained at a higher level and then eventually convert to adipose or fat tissue. Leafy greens such as lettuce (romaine, green and red leaf), spinach, arugula, chard, kale, collard greens and mustard greens are just a few examples of this wonderful food group (I think of them as a food group) that has a profound effect on your blood sugar.
#3- Sweet potatoes/yams (the orange ones)- Oh man, how many of you remember the sweet potato dish at Thanksgiving with the marshmallows in it? For a lot of my patients, sweet potatoes/yams often elicit a slight gag response when I first advise them to eat this great diabetic food. Well, I am here to tell you that sweet potatoes/yams can taste wonderful and have a extremely important role in the metabolism. It is the complex nature of the carbohydrate in the sweet potatoes that provides a metabolic cushion for my patients. As I hope you are aware, the type and kind of carbohydrate that a diabetic eats can be disastrous to their blood glucose levels. Sweet potatoes/yams do not create a dysregulation in the blood glucose when appropriately combined with animal protein and vegetable.
Top 3 foods not to eat
Before I tell you what my top 3 whole foods not to eat are, I want to emphasize the fact that food choices containing sugar (also sugar free food products) are absolutely contraindicated in a diabetic nutritional environment. Meaning, you can not eat sugar when you are working to heal diabetes.
#1- Grains- While this might seem obvious given our new understanding of glucose metabolism, I can not understate the impact that grain based nutrition has on the body’s sugar response. Grains pack in them not only tremendous glucose reserve but also an inflammatory substrate known as lectin. The biggest problem with grains is the fact that they are refined and packaged into different food products that people with diabetes tend to consume in high volume. My patients also ask me about eating whole grains and I let them know that in certain instances whole grains are worse for you then refined grains. The important takeaway with grains is that you remove them from your diet to allow rehabilitation of glucose metabolism.
#2- Nuts- What a bummer! For a lot of people, nuts are a wonderful snack that is shelf stable which allows (in theory) you to get through the day without having to eat larger meals (let me remind you that it is essential to eat regularly through the day if you are diabetic, every 2-3 hrs). The problem with nuts is that they have an antigenic (inflammatory) response to them that increases inflammation in the body. They also do not provide the adequate protein and fat that is needed for the metabolism to main a homeostasis for regulating blood sugar.
#3- Dairy- While butter is fine (given the fact that it is 99% fat, get grass fed) all other dairy products influence blood sugar metabolism due to the milk sugar and milk proteins present in them. In diabetes we tend to like protein, but not proteins like whey and casein (there are different types of casein to choose from but all types are problematic). These proteins instigate an immune response to an already overtaxed immune system when diabetes is present. It is also not a great idea to consume a lot of diary free products as a replacement.
Remember that food is your best medicine. Be thoughtful with your nutritional choices and take the steps towards healing.