Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes, is a dreadful condition which is caused when the body in unable to produce sufficient insulin, or is unable to correctly process the insulin produced by the body leading to fluctuations in the body’s blood sugar level. Which is why, it is also known as a ‘slow killer’ by health experts. However, making changes to your diet, regular exercising, and releasing stress among other things can help you keep your blood sugar level under control, and gradually start reversing diabetes, suggests Dr Pramod Tripathi, founder, Freedom from Diabetes.
Researchers have found that a lot of plant-based foods help lower blood sugar level and thus prevent any further complications caused by the condition.
Observations resulting out of large-scale cohort studies have established a strong relationship between plant-based foods and controlling blood sugar level. “People following an appropriate plant-based diet stand a relatively better chance of preventing the onset and progression of diabetes, in comparison with semi-vegetarians and omnivores. Besides, a plant-based diet has helped people maintain lower body mass index, which acts as a major decisive factor in preventing and further managing diabetes,” adss Dr Tripathi.
Most diabetics as well as non-diabetic people are turning vegan, owing to the benefits of a vegan diet. Generally, plant-based diets include legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Key plant-based foods that are useful include green leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach, green sorrel (ambat chukka), amaranth (rajgira), dill (shepu), fenugreek, non-starchy vegetables such as bitter gourd, bottle gourd, cucumber, ash gourd, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, onions, okra, tomatoes, mushrooms.
Fruits like apple, blueberries, cherries, jamun, pear and guava too have strong and positive linkages with managing diabetes. Herbs such as mint, tulsi and coriander and spices such as cinnamon, turmeric and cardamom also play an important role in controlling diabetes. Further, legumes help to reduce insulin resistance, stimulate weight loss, and offer protection against the metabolic syndrome.
However, ensure that you get all medical tests done and consult an expert before starting, he suggests.
Ways to incorporate plant based diet in your daily routine:
Drink nutrient dense green smoothie with lemon and or salt for taste on empty stomach. It has many benefits like detoxification of your body, controlling blood sugar levels, blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol and make body alkaline, thereby helping reduce metabolic acidosis.
Avoid grains in breakfast. Having daal-based breakfast helps in reducing carbohydrate load on pancreas, thereby control blood sugar level. For example, sprouts, moong dal dosa/idli, besan chilla or mix dal flour thalipeeth.
Lunch and dinner:
Have lunch and dinner consisting of only one grain with an equal proportion ie 25 per cent of grain, cooked vegetable, pulse/lentil and raw salad respectively. This diet provides approximately 65 to 70 per cent carbohydrates, 10 to 15 per cent proteins, 20 to 25 per cent fat and sufficient quantity of soluble and insoluble fibre in the form of cooked pulse/lentil, cooked grain and raw vegetables in the form of salads. Inclusion of four to five teaspoons (20 to 25 ml) of cooking oil per day is recommended.
Incorporate nuts and seeds in evening snacks. They are great natural sources of vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fat and fiber. For example, sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame, flaxseed, almonds, walnuts and groundnuts. Repeat nutrient dense green smoothie and salads. Avoid junk food and fried foods.
Here’s a recipe for you:
Spinach and Banana Smoothie
1 cup – Spinach
1 no – Whole banana, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup- Almond milk (contains neither cholesterol nor lactose)
* In a blender, mix spinach, banana and almond milk and blend for about four mins straight.
* Taste if sweet enough. If not, add a bit of honey as a natural sweetener and blend for two mins.
* Your green smoothie filled with vital nutrients is ready! Serve with crushed ice or have it normally.
Benefits of spinach:
* It is loaded with vitamins like A, B2, C and K and contains antioxidants and minerals too.
* It has a high nutritional value and has magnesium, manganese, folate, iron, calcium and potassium.
* Low on calories, this green also fights osteoporosis, heart diseases, arthritis and cancer. However it is advisable to eat spinach with vitamin C rich foods as it contains oxalic acid which can reduce the nutritional intake of your body.
Benefits of banana:
* Its calorific value is 105 – 250.
* Contains 18 per cent vitamin C, 13 per cent potassium, 12 per cent dietery fibres and nine per cent manganese. Also, has Vitamin B6 which increases the production of anti-bodies.
* Helps in reducing blood pressure.