AROUND 280 Australians are diagnosed with diabetes every day.
The most common form of diabetes is type 2, and while you may have heard of it before, you may not know that type 2 diabetes is actually preventable.
For people who have diabetes, insulin, which is essential for the conversion of glucose into energy, is no longer produced in sufficient amounts by the body, and so has to be sought from elsewhere. Diabetes Australia state that although there is a strong genetic predisposition for developing type 2 diabetes, the risk “is greatly increased when associated with lifestyle factors such as high blood pressure, overweight or obesity, insufficient physical activity, poor diet and the classic ‘apple shape’ body, where extra weight is carried around the waist.”
The National Diabetes Action Program say that the key to preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes is “long-term weight loss and reducing your waist measurement” as well as “healthy eating and regular physical activity.”
So, in honour of National Diabetes week this week, nutritionist and dietitian Kara Landau has outlined the top ten foods we should be incorporating into our diets to help with the production of insulin, control blood glucose levels, and prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes:
1. Dark green leafy vegetables
Dark green leafy vegetables are rich in magnesium, which has been shown to be important in regulating blood sugar levels. They are also low glycaemic load which reduces stress on the body to release large amounts of insulin all at once.
2. Tree Nuts
Tree nuts are rich in a variety of beneficial nutrients such as unsaturated fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, as well as dietary fibre, antioxidants and other non-nutritive compounds. Studies have shown that people who regularly consume tree nuts are actually at a lower risk of type 2 diabetes
Created by the CSIRO, Goodness Superfoods’ BARLEYmax is a grain that comes recommended by Diabetes Australia and contains twice the dietary fibre of regular wholegrains. It has been made into products that have a low glycaemic load to minimise pressure on the body to produce large amounts of insulin, and also contains resistant starch which fuels the good bacteria in our gut and may also make our cells more sensitive to insulin so that the body doesn’t have to produce as much.
4. Oily Fish
There is a lot of research that supports the idea that healthy vitamin D levels are important in ensuring optimal blood glucose management and preventing type 2 diabetes. Wild caught salmon, sardines and tuna are all sources of omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D.
5. Chia Seeds
Rich in plant based omega 3’s as well as soluble fibre, chia seeds are able to keep you fuller for longer than many other foods, and are a great addition to your yoghurt, cereal, or made into a healthy pudding on their own.
Rich in protein and fat soluble vitamins, egg consumption does not cause undesired spikes in your blood sugar levels and they are able to keep you feeling full for hours which can help prevent any unhealthy snacking.
Rich in folate and prebiotic dietary fibre, asparagus spears in your salad are a great addition to both support a healthy heart, and fuel the good bacteria in your gut that are important in diabetes prevention.
8. Greek Yoghurt
With a low glycemix index and high in protein, Greek yoghurt (with live active cultures) is able to keep you full without spiking your blood glucose levels. The live probiotic cultures support strong gut health that have been shown to be beneficial in disease prevention.
Kefir is a nutritious yoghurt alternative that is filled with a variety of live active cultures that are not typically present in regular yoghurts. The cultures in kefir are actually able to colonise inside the human gut unlike yoghurt cultures that pass through, resulting in an even larger positive effect on the body.
A perfect mix of naturally occurring protein, fibre, and resistant starch, legumes can keep you full while regulating your blood glucose levels.
About the author: Kara Landau is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian, nutritionist, author of The Clean Separation, founding manager of Corporate Nutrition Melbourne, and spokesperson for Goodness Superfoods.