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Food for Diabetics

"Diabetes is one of the most common health conditions found in the Filipino population"
By: Gwen Y. Reyes-Amurao, M.D.Food for Diabetics

Diabetes is one of the most common health conditions found in the Filipino population. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the Philippines is one of the world’s emerging diabetes hotspots, ranking 15th in the world for diabetes prevalence. Currently, there are more than 4 million Filipinos diagnosed with diabetes, although the majority of the population has not been tested for this condition.

Because diabetics have high blood sugar levels, it is but natural to consume foods that are low in sugar or those that have low to moderate glycemic index. The glycemic index or GI is a system of ranking carbohydrates based on how much they raise blood glucose levels. Each time you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar level immediately goes up. Depending on how high your blood sugar level rises, the body will produce insulin that will help keep sugar from shooting up. When your sugar levels are reduced, abruptly by insulin, a “crash” occurs and you may suddenly feel lethargic and irritable. Because of the low sugar level, your body may tell you to take in more sugar. This is when you may experience cravings. A food with a high GI raises blood glucose more than medium or low GI food, so for diabetics, it is best to consume types of food that have low glycemic index.

According to a research conducted by the Yale Prevention Research Center, having a low-GI diet will help prevent insulin resistance, which is the main cause of developing diabetes. Remember though that glycemic index is affected when it is combined with other types of food. So consuming a low-GI food can immediately be affected when taken with a high-GI food. Apart from the glycemic index, the World Health Organization still maintains that the amount and type of carbohydrates you eat greatly affect blood sugar levels. So to help control diabetes, it is best to consume foods that are low in carbohydrate, and not just low in glycemic index, and high in fiber since fiber-rich foods have been studied to maintain normal sugar levels.

Below is a short-list of the good food that can help lower or control blood sugar levels.


According to the American Heart Association, oats or oatmeal do not only help lower cholesterol and decrease the incidence of heart disease. Because it is rich in soluble fiber, it helps prevent the sudden rise of blood glucose levels by delaying gastric emptying, leading to slower absorption of sugars. This gives the body enough time to release insulin and regulate glucose levels.


In general, green leafy vegetables provide more than an adequate amount of essential vitamins and minerals and have various health benefits particularly in the field of cancer and heart disease. Recently though, spinach, kale, and other green, leafy veggies were shown to decrease the incidence and prevent complications of diabetes.


Beans are known to be rich in fiber and are an excellent source of protein. In a study released by a diabetic living website in 2012, researchers found that eating legumes daily resulted in better blood sugar control as documented through hemoglobin A1c levels. The hemoglobin A1c test or glycated hemoglobin test shows how well your diabetes is controlled and provides an average of your blood sugar control over the past 2 to 3 months.


Aside from being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, nuts have also been associated with better blood sugar control especially in those with type 2 diabetes. According to the American Journal of Nutrition, studies conducted after mealtime suggests that nuts should be combined with carbohydrate portions of the meal to help prevent blood sugar levels from rising right after eating.


In a study released by the British Journal of Nutrition, asparagus was found to help keep blood sugar levels normal and increase insulin production when needed.


Reader’s Digest poses a study stating that sweet potatoes reduced HbA1c measures from 0.30 to 0.57% in fasting blood glucose by 10 to 15 points. This means that they have the ability to control blood sugar levels for a period of 2 to 3 months.


Aside from being rich in healthy fatty acids, the National Institute of Health says these are actually effective for lowering and controlling HgbA1c levels in those with type 2 diabetes.

All in all, diet plays a big factor in controlling or managing your diabetes. But your overall lifestyle and habits, including the level of physical activity, greatly affect the prognosis or outcome of your condition. Seeking regular consult with your specialist to make sure that your blood glucose levels are kept at bay is also a must. Complications of diabetes affecting your kidneys, eyesight, and overall health may not be reversible in the long run.

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