While no specific food will actually lower your blood sugar, there are eating patterns that can help prevent and control diabetes:
The Mediterranean diet consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean proteins, whole grains and lean dairy products. It’s also considered a reduced sodium diet when adding a reduced sodium variety.
According to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, patients who consumed a reduced-carb Mediterranean diet versus a diet low in carbs and low in fat had a 26% better improvement in blood sugars. Both groups were newly diagnosed Type 2 patients and also started anti-hyperglycemic medication.
The Annals of Medicine presented a study performed by the National Diabetes Prevention Program on 2,924 participants who completed dietary data. They concluded that those who ate a diet high in fiber, calorie controlled, and low in total fat and saturated fat had good results with weight loss. In fact, it had the best weight loss factor for all participants and groups compared.
Other groups included higher protein content with less carbohydrates and a diet higher in total fat and saturated fat. Weight loss was strongly predicted by increasing dietary fiber, especially vegetable, particularly cruciferous vegetables.
Weights were measured over a one-year period. Weight loss on the high fiber, higher carbs diet yielded approximately -1.1 kilogram of weight loss per 100 calories of carbohydrate. Weight gain occurred on those consuming a high total fat and high saturated fat diet, with an average weight gain of 1.96 kilograms per 100 calories eaten.
Finally, participants had a weight gain of 0.2 kilogram per 100 kcal of protein intake. Results of the study showed high statistical significance.
Other studies have shown that substituting carbohydrates for fat and protein showed both positive and negative results. The main takeaway is that decreasing calories along with increasing fiber helps to produce weight loss, decreases the risk of developing diabetes and improves blood sugar in those who have diabetes or pre-diabetes.
In addition, reducing total saturated fats helps to protect the heart on many levels. Including all macronutrients in the diet will help ensure one is obtaining all necessary macro and micro nutrients from carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
For those with diabetes or who are at risk for diabetes, calorie-controlled intakes with high fiber, avoiding processed foods, reducing trans fats and calories from total fat seem to have the best outcomes for diabetes and heart health.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, weight loss contributes to decreasing blood sugars and helps to prevent further complications.
Meal replacements are defined as a low-calorie snack or drink taken in place of breakfast, lunch or dinner, often as part of a weight-loss regimen. The Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity journal published a study demonstrating meal replacements in patients with Type 2 diabetes showed significant improvement after four months of utilizing meal replacements for one or two of their meals.
Improvements were seen with decreases in weight, fasting blood glucose, post prandial blood sugars (blood sugars two hours after eating), A1C (three-month blood sugar average) and lipids. They concluded that meal replacements can safely and effectively improve the management and prevention of diabetes.
— Marcy DiGregorio is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator who loves helping people with their nutritional needs, enjoys cooking, and also teaches yoga. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.