The Best Food For Diabetics, According To Ayurveda

The Best Food For Diabetics, According To Ayurveda

Diet planning is an effective strategy for management of various aspects of diabetes. If you or someone you love has diabetes, knowing the best food for diabetics can help promote health and prevent further decline. Consider these recommendations from the traditional ancient medical science of Ayurveda.

According to Ayurveda, diabetes mellitus is known as Madhumeha and it arises in two ways. Aggravation of Vata dosha due to tissue depletion (dhatukshya), is one way diabetes develops. Obstruction of the channels (srotas) through blockage by Kapha dosha and fatty tissue (Kapha Meda Avarana), is another cause of diabetes.

Both of these causes increase Vata dosha which may manifest over time as diabetes mellitus. What can you do?

Favor foods with a low glycemic index.

The glycemic index identifies foods that increase blood sugar rapidly. This handy tool allows you to favor foods that have much less effect on blood sugar. Eating lower glycemic index foods helps in diabetes by keeping control of blood sugar levels and not allowing them to rise too much.

All of the foods listed here have a low glycemic index and provide key nutrients that are lacking in the typical western diet such as calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, vitamins A (as carotenoids), C, and E.

Diabetic Meal Plans

The meal plan should be based on one receiving 50 to 60 percent of the daily calories from carbohydrates, 15 percent from proteins, and the remainder from fats or oils. The World Health Organization recommends a minimum consumption of 5 – 10 portions of fruits and vegetables per day. Lessen fat, salt, alcohol, and caffeine in your diet.

Low glycemic foods includes whole grain breads, oatmeal (slow cooked), all bran cereals, converted or parboiled rice, brown rice, pumpernickel bread, pasta, all beans, peas, lentils, apples, oranges, tomato juice, sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peaches, pears, grapefruit, oranges, sweet corn, dark leafy green vegetables, popcorn, marmalade, skim or 1 % milk, low fat milk, yogurt and soy milk.

All of the foods listed here have a low glycemic index and provide key nutrients that are lacking in the typical western diet such as calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, vitamins A (as carotenoids), C, and E.

Food For Diabetics: Best Meal Plans

A diabetic meal plan should contain 50 to 60 percent of daily calories from carbohydrates, 15 percent from proteins, and the remainder from fats or oils. The World Health Organization recommends a minimum consumption of 5 – 10 portions of fruits and vegetables per day. Lessen fat, salt, alcohol, and caffeine in your diet.

1. Go For High Fiber

Aim for 40 grams of fiber a day, but start slowly. Load up on beans, vegetables and fruits. For whole grains, aim for at least 3 grams per serving on food labels and at least 10 grams per meal.

A variety of foods which should always be included in the diet is as follows.

2. Eat Whole Grains

Whole grains could effectively regulate the glycemic response, increase insulin sensitivity, improve pancreatic β-cell functions and increase insulin secretion. Whole and multi grain breads, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, low-fat and multigrain crackers, low sugar, whole grain cereals, oatmeal, bran, bulgur, buckwheat, low-fat, whole grain baked goods with added bran or oat bran, pasta, high fiber cereal, corn, oatmeal, millet, barley and rye.

According to Ayurveda…. barley (yava) is the best grain for managing diabetes. Different preparations of barley can be taken such as barley cooked with water (mantha), barley cooked without adding any unctuous substance or fat (odana), barley porridge (vatya), barley with roasted corn flour (saktu), barley pancakes (apupa), barley bread and barley-based chapattis or tortillas. Wheat can also be taken. Ayurveda prescribes old rice (purana shali), as one of the cereals beneficial to diabetic patients.

3. Choose Fruits And Vegetables

Several studies indicate that regular consumption of various fruits and vegetables in diabetic patients can lead to an improved glycemic control, reduced HbA1c and triglyceride levels, enhance antioxidant defense system, attenuated oxidative stress and inflammatory markers, decreased risk of diabetic retinopathy and lower the burden of carotid atherosclerosis.

Fruits

The fruits with a low glycemic index include apples, peaches, pears, grapefruit, grapes, oranges, melon, dried apricots, raisins, kiwi, berries, cranberry, blackberries, black raspberries, blueberries, red raspberries, strawberries, cherries, barberries, plums, litchi fruit, durian, pomegranates, bananas, avocadoes, persimmon, guava, papaya, kokum fruit, jackfruit, acai, goji, watermelon, dates, figs, syzygium cumini or jamun, Indian gooseberry or amla, wood apple, sugar palm and lotus.

Avoid olives and pineapples. Avoid fruit juices. Instead opt for whole fruits, as they contain more fiber and are more filling. If juice is a must, when buying canned fruit juices, one should check the label for the following: unsweetened or extra-light, no sugar added. Stay away from fruits that are frozen or canned in heavy syrup.

Vegetables

Eat green leafy vegetables; eat an abundance fresh vegetables like tomato, cucumber, carrot, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, kale, collard, squash, green beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, artichokes. Avoid white potatoes.

Ayurveda recommends all types of bitter vegetables as some of the best vegetables for diabetics. Bitter vegetables include bitter gourd, fenugreek, pointed gourd, garlic, cluster fig tree or Indian fig. You can also have bitter greens like arugula, kale, dandelions and beet greens. Other bitter vegetables you might like are bitter melon which is excellent fried, rapini, radicchio and endive.

4. Add Spices

Spices exert several beneficial physiological effects. The anti-diabetic effects of spices include short-term hypoglycemia and long-term improved glucose tolerance activities. A number of condiments and spices including pepper, asafoetida, aloe, ocimum, and eugenol have been ascribed as hypoglycemic action in normal as well as experimentally induced diabetic animal models, as well as humans.

Fenugreek seeds, garlic, onion, turmeric, cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, onions, mustard, curry leaves, cinnamon, mustard and coriander have all been reported to possess potential anti-diabetic agents. You can add these spices to your meals by sauteing them in oil quickly before adding your beans, vegetables or grains.

5. Select Milk + Dairy

Milk and yogurt with less than 1% fat and cheese should be 10-20% milk fat. They are rich in protein and calcium, and studies shows they help people to lose weight. Diets that include plenty of dairy may fight insulin resistance, a core problem behind diabetes. In addition to calcium, many fortified dairy products are a good source of vitamin D.

6. Enjoy Lean Protein

Fish is rich in omega-3’s (polyunsaturated fat) which helps to protect against heart disease in people with diabetes. Opt for fish canned in water, fresh or frozen, seafood, skinless chicken and turkey, lean meats with the fat trimmed, wild game, lean cold cuts (but watch the salt content), tofu and eggs (up to 8 per week).

According to Ayurveda, deer flesh, rabbit and birds like grey partridge are beneficial for diabetes. Though these may be unusual choices for protein, a little sleuthing can help you source local ingredients. You may also check with your local farm to table restaurants for vendors carrying these items.

6. Choose Pulses + Legumes

Legumes have a low glycemic index, are high in fiber and phytochemicals. This makes them a functional food for diabetic patients.

The hypoglycemic effect of beans (via inhibition of α-amylase and β-glucosidase activity) has been reported as being similar to those of anti-diabetic drugs. Including beans like pinto, dark red kidney and black beans in the diet effectively helps weight management, attenuates postprandial glycemic response and improves dyslipidemia.

Have beans (black, pinto, kidney, garbanzo, white beans andsoybeans), peas, split peas, lentils and non-fat soy products for diabetic management.

According to Ayurveda, split green gram beans, Bengal gram, horse gram and pigeon peas can also be taken for diabetes management. You can find these items at your local Indian market or search online for a quality source. Horse gram is hearty, filling and delicious. Split green gram you can enjoy in Indian kitchari recipes or in quick, no-ferment dosas (Indian pancakes).

7. Go Nuts

Almonds, pistachios, walnuts and hazelnuts are commonly used nuts. Most current evidence reveals that consumption of nuts in type 2 diabetic patients other than improving the overall diet quality also has beneficial effects on postprandial glycemic response following high-carbohydrate meals. They also improve insulin resistance. Habitual intake of nuts could help to effectively manage weight especially in diabetic patients.

8. Unsalted Seeds

Flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are filled with good fats like omega 3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber that work together to keep blood sugar low and stave off heart disease.

According to Ayurveda, lotus or water lily seeds can also be taken. Lotus seeds may be eaten cooked or raw. They are used extensively in Chinese medicine as well as Ayurvedic medicine. If you are traveling in Asia you may find them sold as a raw snack. You may also find a source in larger metropolitan areas.

9. Oils + Fats

According to Ayurveda, mustard oil is the best. Olive, canola, soybean, sesame and sunflower oils (3 tsp or less per day), non-hydrogenated soft margarines, low calorie dressings and mayonnaise, light peanut butter, nuts (watch salt and calories), defatted gravy and low-sugar condiments, cocoa powder or a small piece of dark chocolate can be taken.

10. Limit Liquor

Limit alcohol to less than 2 drinks per day. One drink is equal to 12 oz. beer, 1.5 oz. liquor or 4 oz. wine. It is not a good idea to drink on an empty stomach, especially if you take insulin or medications that put you at risk of hypos, as alcohol can make hypos more likely to happen.

According to Ayurveda, old wine is beneficial.

Please note that drinking alcohol is not recommended if you have high triglycerides (blood fats), high blood pressure, liver problems, are pregnant or breastfeeding.

11. Sweets (In Very Small Amounts)

Sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners, low sugar jams, jellies and syrups, sugar-free candies, gelatins, gum, low-sugar and high fiber baked goods, and low-fat and low-sugar frozen dessert.

12. Snack Foods

Popcorn without salt, butter, or hydrogenated oils is a good choice. Choose low fat, low sugar snack foods.

References
Prof.K.R. Srikantha Murthy Ashtanga Hridayam Volume 2 Page no 95 edition reprint 2016 Chowkhamba Krishnadas Academy, Varanasi ISBN 978-81- 218-0019- 6.

P SRINIVAS, DIABETES MELLITUS (MADHUMEHA)-AN AYURVEDIC REVIEW, Vol 6, Suppl 1, 2014, Received: 25 Nov 2013, Revised and Accepted: 26 Dec 2013 International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences ISSN- 0975-1491.

Mohammad Asif, The prevention and control the type-2 diabetes by changing lifestyle and dietary pattern, Published online 2014 Feb 21. doi: 10.4103/2277-9531.127541, PMCID: PMC3977406.

Parvin Mirmiran et al, Functional foods-based diet as a novel dietary approach for management of type 2 diabetes and its complications: A review Published online 2014 Jun 15. doi: 10.4239/wjd. v5. i3.267 , 5(3): 267–281.PMCID: PMC4058731World Journal of Diabetes.

Samir Devalaraja et al, Exotic Fruits as Therapeutic Complements for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome, Food Res Int. 2011 Aug 1; 44(7): 1856–1865.doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2011.04.008 PMCID: PMC3156450, NIHMSID: NIHMS290517.Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 Aug 1.

Shrikant Baslingappa Swami ,Jamun (Syzygium cumini (L.)): A Review of Its Food and Medicinal Uses, Food and Nutrition Sciences, 2012, 3, 1100-1117 http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/fns.2012.38146 Published Online August 2012 (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/fns) Received April 23rd, 2012; revised July 3rd, 2012; accepted July 10th, 2012.

Mohammad Asif, The role of fruits, vegetables, and spices in diabetes Year: 2011 | Volume :1 | Issue : 1 | Page : 27-35, International Journal of Nutrition, Pharmacology and Neurological Disease.

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Mallika Varma, holds a bachelor’s degree, B.A.M.S. from State  Ayurvedic college and Hospital, Lucknow and a postgraduate degree M.S. in Kshara Sutra Avum Anushastra Karma from Sri Venkateswara Ayurvedic College, Tirupathi. She brings more than 7 years of experience in the field of Ayurveda.  She is specialized in Ayurvedic general surgery, parasurgical procedures (Kshara Jalauka, Siravedhyan, Agni Karma) and in the treatment of anorectal disorders. She is also experienced in the treatment of gastro, respiratory, genitourinary, skin and lifestyle disorders through natural herbal medicine, Yoga and Panchkarma. She has participated in many national and international seminars in the field of Ayurveda and has also presented best awarded papers on Ayurveda.

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  2. Thank you. Very helpful.

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