A number of factors like poor food choices, obesity and sedentary lifestyles have led to an increase in diabetes. Studies at the George Washington University have shown that simple dietary changes in the choice of food items, as well as eating patterns can alleviate diabetes. Diabetes was treated with high fiber wheat grains in ancient Egypt, ginseng herb in China, bitter gourd in India, and garlic and raw onions in many parts of the world.
Foods that Control Diabetes
Foods containing carbohydrates have a glycaemic index (GI) based on the extent of their effect on blood sugar levels in the body. Foods with a high GI are easily digested and metabolized, increasing weight and raising blood glucose levels, which in turn raises the levels of insulin required to control blood sugar levels. Processed food like items made from refined white flour have a higher index (70 plus) while sources with a low GI help to control diabetes. These include many fruits and vegetables and grains and cereals. A food item with little or no carbohydrate does not have a GI.
Fruits and Vegetables which Control Blood Sugar
Vegetables like beans and broccoli are rich in vitamins and minerals and soluble fiber, but low in fat. Broccoli is a rich source of the trace mineral chromium, which lowers blood sugar. Other chromium rich foods are beans, whole grain cereals, nuts, mushrooms and some fruits like pomegranates.
Fruits contain no cholesterol, and most contain very little fat, but are rich in vitamins. Though they are sweet, fruits like cherries, oranges, apples, apricots, pears and peaches have low GI and do not raise blood sugar. However, fruits like avocado and coconut contain a substantial amount of fat.
Grains and Cereals that Reduce Blood Sugar
Whole grains like brown rice have no cholesterol and very little fat, and together with lentils, are filling food, so one tends to eat less, and thus gain less weight. Barley is another whole grain with a low GI and high soluble fiber.
Oats have no fat or cholesterol; instead they have high soluble fiber which brings down cholesterol and reduces weight. Therefore, this low GI food regulates blood sugar. It is better to use oatmeal with more grain, as the GI is lower. It can be used as a breakfast cereal, or even in combination with vegetables.
Other Foods that Control Diabetes
Potassium rich foods like garlic are also beneficial, as potassium stimulates the pancreas. Garlic contains sulphur and zinc, as well as manganese, the lack of which causes diabetes. Atherosclerosis, a complication of diabetes, can be prevented by the presence of manganese in garlic. Onions affect the release of insulin.
Chickpeas control blood sugar, and one of the best forms is to use them as hummus. This is a dip that is delicious with any kind of whole grain bread or even vegetables. Soybeans are used for therapeutic purposes.
Cooking Methods that Combat Diabetes
Some measures while cooking can help to control blood sugar and diabetes naturally. Herbs and spices like bay leaves, cloves and cinnamon which are rich in antioxidants can be used for seasoning or in desserts, instead of sugar. Cinnamon stimulates insulin activity. It is also important to choose healthy cooking mediums like olive oil.
The use of skim milk instead of whole milk lowers fat intake, while consuming only egg white eliminates the cholesterol-rich yolk. Fish contains omega 3 fatty acids that control surges of sugar, and should be chosen over poultry dishes like pork, beef or mutton. For the latter, the fat layer should be trimmed away. White sauce and cheese typically contain high saturated fats which increase blood sugar.
One can control diabetes by eating fiber and antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables and reducing starches, while sugar and sweets, sugary cold drinks, ice creams and milk chocolates should be omitted. It is important to keep weight under control, and have a regular schedule of exercise. Smoking and use of tobacco should be avoided, while it is also essential to maintain a positive attitude. A healthy lifestyle and diet are the best natural means of combating diabetes.