Diabetic people are advised against eating everything that crosses their paths because some foods can be dangerous to their health. They should also be guided by dieticians on the type of food and the right amount to eat that won’t raise glucose levels in their blood.
Dieudonne’ Bukaba, a nutrition expert from Avega Clinic Remera, Kigali, says eggs are a good addition to one’s diet if they suffer from diabetes since they promote good blood sugar control.
He adds that fatty fish is also recommended as it contains omega-3 fats that helps lower inflammation and many other risks for heart disease.
“Cinnamon is also healthy because it may improve blood sugar control, insulin sensitivity, cholesterol and triglyceride levels in type 2 diabetics,” according to Healthline, an online health platform.
Healthline also says chia seeds are healthy as they contain high amounts of fiber, are low in digestible carbs and may decrease blood pressure and inflammation.
Bukaba adds that nuts are healthy to include in one’s diet if they have diabetes because they are low in digestible carbs and help reduce blood sugar, insulin and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.
Healthline advises diabetes’ patients to consume fruits like strawberries since they are low-sugar fruits that have strong anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce heart disease risk as well.
Bukaba further says garlic shouldn’t miss out on a diabetes patient plate because it helps lower blood sugar, inflammation, LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.
According to Private Kamanzi, a dietician at Amazon Wellness Centre in Remera, Gasabo District, there is a designed meal plan for diabetic patients.
Nutritionists recommend food that boosts the immune system and highly discourage meals that lead to neuropathy (a dysfunction that is due to deficiency of Vitamin B complex).
“We prescribe for diabetic patients food that does not increase glucose levels (glycemic index) in the blood. There are three categories of food for one to consider, and category one is glycemic index less than 55 which includes green vegetables like dodo, spinach, French, beans, sombe, broccoli, cabbages and carrots,” Kamanzi notes.
Still in category one, he recommends taking some fruits like avocado, apple, yellow bananas, and water melon because vegetables and fruits cannot increase glucose level in blood, contain vitamin A, C and zinc that boost the immune system. These foods also have soluble fibres which reduce the absorption of glucose from the small intestines to the blood stream. This category should carry 50 per cent of meals on a plate daily.
Kamanzi says category two is glycemic index between 56 and 69, which should occupy 30 per cent of one’s plate. It contains proteins like lean meat, chicken, eggs, soya and peanut.
“Category three is glycemic index from 70 and above and is full of carbohydrates like bananas, potatoes, yams, maize, posho and rice. One’s plate should contain 20 per cent of category three,”Kamanzi says.
If one adds all those categories of food on their plate every day, they add up to 100 per cent, which makes a balanced diet (eating different types of food in their right amounts).
However, Kamanzi advises one should balance the meal in each category, saying for instance, if one eats potatoes on a Monday, then they should opt for posho on Tuesday, and if they eat dodo today, then they should go for broccoli the next day.
“If you have type 2 diabetes the type of food you decide to eat can either help you control your blood sugar, stave off hunger and make you feel full longer or vice versa,” Bukaba notes.
He explains that diabetes is when one’s blood sugar or glucose levels are higher than normal, noting that it’s carbohydrate-rich foods like bread, cereals, rice, pasta, fruits, milk and desserts that can cause this rise.
Bukaba adds that a diabetic’s eating plan should focus on the amount and type of carbs they put on their plate throughout the day.
About vegetables, he says whether raw, cooked or roasted, they add colour, flavour and texture to a meal. He advises diabetic patients to get vegetables like mushrooms, onions, eggplants and tomatoes.
Bukaba says one can also mix greens with roasted veggies to add texture and flavour, or even serve them with a little protein, like salmon.
However, he says much as plain water is good to drink, its value can be boosted by adding some fruits for example lemon since it is healthy and low in carbs.
“Legumes like dried beans, peas and lentils have carbs, but they most importantly have interesting flavours that help keep one satisfied,” he adds.
Bukaba says peanut butter is a good fat and protein mix for a healthy snack for diabetic patients.