Dietary strategies for better diabetes control

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition where the body doesn't make enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels in the right range.


In this article, we will discuss ways that you can use your diet to control blood sugar levels, which can help you avoid serious health problems caused by diabetes. But before we get into that, let's understand how food fuels our body and the important role that insulin plays in this process.

Our body is made up of millions of tiny cells that need energy to work properly. This energy is found in the food and drinks we consume. When we eat foods like bread, pasta, fruit, and sugary items, our body breaks down the carbs in these foods into a simple sugar called glucose. This glucose goes into our blood, and insulin is like a helper that takes the glucose into our cells, where it's used to provide us with energy. But in diabetes, a couple of things go wrong:

  1. The pancreas doesn't make enough insulin.
  2. The cells don't respond well to insulin; this is called insulin resistance.

This means our cells don't get the energy they need, leading to a build-up of sugar in our blood. If left uncontrolled, it can lead to problems like heart issues, kidney failure, and even loss of eyesight.

If you have diabetes, it's really important that your blood sugar levels are kept as close to normal as possible. So, here are some top tips to help you with your goal.

Tip 1: Eat more protein

Whenever you eat protein, it gets broken down to smaller units called amino acids. We've talked about how in diabetes, the pancreas struggles to release insulin. Protein can be very helpful in this case as it is able to trigger the pancreas to release insulin. So, when you eat protein-rich food, the amino acids essentially nudge the pancreas to release a bit more insulin. Pretty cool, right?

Tip 2: Eat more fibre

Fibre might sound boring, but it's actually super important. Even though we can't digest fibre, it has amazing effects in our body. It doesn't raise blood sugar levels, so it doesn't give our cells energy. Instead, it goes to our colon and is broken down by bacteria. This produces products called short chain fatty acids which are believed to help with glucose control and may also increase insulin release.

Tip 3: Choose wholegrains

When picking carbohydrates, go for wholegrains. These have a low glycaemic index, which means they keep blood sugar levels steady. Unlike refined carbs that result in a rapid spike in blood sugar (making it hard for your pancreas to handle the carb load), wholegrains lead to a more steady rise in blood sugar, allowing your pancreas sufficient time to release enough insulin.

So, what are the better carb options? If choosing rice, opt for a wild rice or brown rice. With pasta, a wholegrain version would be a better choice. And when it comes to bread, ensure you are buying bread that is labelled with ‘whole’. Be aware that ‘multigrain’ does not necessarily mean that it is made using wholegrains.

If you are currently facing challenges in effectively managing your diabetes and seek support, please don't hesitate to reach out. Feel free to visit my profile and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation discovery call. During our conversation, we can discuss your specific difficulties, requirements, and objectives. By the end of our discussion, you will have at least one practical step you can immediately put into action to enhance your blood sugar management.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London SW14 & E18
Written by Rania Salman, Registered Dietitian, PgDip (Merit), BSc (Honours), MBDA
London SW14 & E18

Rania Salman is a trained dietitian who uses an evidence-based approach to support you in reaching your goals. Her areas of expertise include Fertility, PCOS, weight loss/gain in addition to general health and well-being. She has worked in some of the most well-known NHS trusts, in addition to working for the private sector.

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