These simple foods can help you fight diabetes
They offer the best protection against the lifestyle disease.
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Diabetes is no simple ailment. As the lifestyle disease has no real cure, the best course of action is prevention, and prevention alone. While the broader diet and lifestyle rules such as maintaining an optimum weight, regular exercise etc all apply, according to research, there are some specific foods that can actually help keep this most dreaded disorder away.
Of course, no single food can prevent or cure diabetes. But some foods do offer more protection than others. So on this World Diabetes Day (November 14) pledge to begin eating diabetes preventive meals, comprising science-backed preventive foods. This is a simple, foolproof way to try and stay diabetes-free in an age where the disorder has become as everyday as common cold. At the last count, India had 69.2 million people living with diabetes.
Don't become a part of this list.
The cereals: oats, barley
Oatmeal contains high amounts of magnesium, which helps the body use glucose and secrete insulin properly.
Barley is a great defender against diabetes as it is rich in soluble fibres that have the ability to form a gel when it mixes with liquids in the stomach. This slows down the emptying of the stomach, which prevents carbohydrates from being absorbed too quickly and raising blood glucose levels.
The vegetables: broccoli and spinach
Broccoli is an anti-diabetes superhero. This cruciferous veggie (like kale and cauliflower) contains a compound called sulforaphane, which triggers several anti-inflammatory processes that improve blood sugar control.
Spinach is listed as a superfood for diabetics. That's because it is an excellent source of many antioxidants such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese, which help keep in check oxidative stress — a known, key contributor to diabetes.
The protein: fish, egg yolk
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a special type of omega 3 fatty acid which, according to research, is the key to reducing inflammation in our body and thus helps lower the risk of diabetes. Oily fish, such as mackerel, herring, salmon, trout and sardines are its richest dietary sources.
Small amounts are found in egg yolks, too, and algae and seaweed are the only vegetarian sources.
The oil: olive
Besides lowering the "bad" low-density lipoproteins (LDL), olive oil helps improve blood sugar control and thus enhances insulin sensitivity. It is the antioxidant tyrosol that does the deed.
You could also juggle between butter, ghee, olive oil, mustard oil, soybean, sesame or even groundnut oil for different meals.
The fruits: citrus and apples
Studies show that increasing vitamin C intake reduces inflammatory markers and fasting blood sugar levels for people with Type 2 diabetes, so antioxidant-packed citrus fruits are a great choice. Apparently, it is the citrus flavanones, a class of antioxidants, which help.
Apples are rich in quercetin, a plant pigment that helps the body secrete insulin more efficiently and ward off insulin resistance. Eat apples with the skin as it has six times more quercetin than the flesh.
The nut: walnuts
Walnuts contain the polyunsaturated fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega 3 fat that helps lower inflammation. The L-arginine, fibre, vitamin E and other phytochemicals found in this nut also make it a potent diabetes preventer.
The seeds: flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are rich in plant chemicals known as lignans, as well as magnesium, both of which help the body use insulin more efficiently. They also contain globulins or proteins, which help lower blood sugar.
Besides omega 3 and lignans, flaxseeds are a very rich source of soluble fibre; they help prevent insulin resistance.
The spices: cinnamon and turmeric
Cinnamon is especially rich in chromium that has the ability to lower blood sugar quickly. Sprinkling just a pinch of cinnamon in your morning cuppa can work wonders as this spice also activates essential enzymes in the body, which stimulate the cells to respond more efficiently to insulin, and prevent diabetes.
Curcumin in turmeric acts directly on fat cells, pancreatic cells, kidney cells, and muscle cells, dampening inflammation and is thus credited with the power to prevent (in fact even reverse) insulin resistance.
The sweet: maple syrup
What makes maple good sugar for us is the interesting finding that maple sugar accelerates glucose absorption by muscles and can help avoid blood sugar spike. That's because it contains a significant amount of phytohormones of the abscisic acid (ABA) family, a molecule that may help prevent the onset of insulin resistance.
Great news for both diabetics and those who want to keep it away.
The drink: red wine
Resveratrol, a compound present in red wine, helps improve the function of blood sugar by regulating the hormone insulin. However, there's no reason to get sloshed! Exercise moderation - a glass or two once or twice a week is good enough. Not a drinker? Get your resveratrol from peanuts, pistachios, grapes, blueberries, cranberries, and even cocoa and dark chocolate.