When talking about diabetes, most doctors, patients and well-wishers talk about sugar in its many forms. Those who know better might even talk about managing carbohydrates and starches, for purposes of diabetes management. But as a lifestyle condition, there is much more to diabetes management than reducing sugar or watching your carbohydrate intake.
Most holistic nutritionists recommend a balanced approach with a focus on plant-based food. If you can completely go vegetarian, some studies show that it can help diabetes patients in a multitude of ways.
1. A vegetarian diet can help in losing weight
A more plant-based diet that features complex carbohydrates and lean sources of protein can easily help in weight management. Especially since vegetables and fruits are rich in fibre, they will keep you full for longer and will be lower in calories than a non-vegetarian diet.
Maintaining a healthy body weight, or working towards it, is one of the best things that a diabetes patient can do to improve their blood sugar levels and prevent complications.
2.You can learn how to keep your hunger pangs and blood glucose levels stable
A healthier weight and improved disease outcomes are the long term results of switching to a vegetarian diet. But the immediate change that happens after embracing this diet is that blood sugar levels will be more stable, and your body will become more responsive to insulin.
This in turn will ensure that you need lesser medication and improve your overall wellbeing. But if you’re relying upon simple carbohydrates like rice or pasta to feel full, you might have to make more changes. Consuming too many simple starches can often lead to post-meal high blood sugar, and weight gain.
By including more complex carbohydrates in your diet, you can ensure your food is digested slowly, and in turn releases energy at a steady pace, keeping your blood sugar stable.
Switching out white bread for whole-grain bread, choosing chickpea pasta instead of those made from refined flour, and even choosing popcorn over pretzels are some easy changes that you can do.
3.The right amount of fat and fibre can help in preventing complications
A more plant-based diet will naturally be low in saturated fats, and higher in healthy fats from nuts, and oils. This aspect of a vegetarian diet can help maintain your weight and keep your heart and blood pressure in a healthy range.
Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are especially helpful in disease prevention and in maintaining your health, down to on a cellular level.
4.You can control your protein intake and control
Having the right amount of protein is an important dietary requirement for everyone, especially if you are diabetic. Protein can be broken down by the body, and used for energy, in the same way as carbohydrates. Therefore, it also has an impact on your glucose levels.
But dietary protein is also important in helping the growth of new tissues and muscle recovery. Depending on your age, disease management, activity levels and more, you can find healthy vegetarian protein options. This includes legumes, soy, and nuts.
5. A vegetarian diet reduces your risk for diabetes complications
According to a study published in the Nutrition Review, vegetarian and vegan diets improve glycemic control as compared to other conventional diabetes diets. This is because a vegetarian diet can easily help in weight loss, owing to the high intake of fibre and vegetable protein.
Since the intake of saturated fats is lower, the blood lipid levels and blood pressure will remain in a healthy range, preventing cardiovascular diseases. High amounts of animal protein that are typical with non-vegetarian diets, usually pose a risk for the renal system. But when following a vegetarian diet, this risk is eliminated, thus improving your kidney health – a major concern for most diabetes patients.
A holistic dietary approach is often recommended as the best move to lose weight and get fitter by most experts. Extreme diets like keto or paleo diet do not fall under this approach as there isn’t enough data to back up its effect in managing diabetes.
Switching to a vegetarian diet can help you in managing your diabetes, and staying healthy. Due to the increased intake of fibre, and switching to plant protein, risks for cardiovascular diseases and kidney problems can also be reduced.
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