Foods to Reduce
Regardless of what diet patients choose, these foods should always be limited or avoided as they can cause spikes in blood sugar or contain unhealthy fats. These foods include: processed grains, fruits with added sweeteners, full-fat dairy, fried foods or foods high in trans or saturated fats, refined flour, and foods with a high glycemic load.
Health Benefits of the Vegan Diet
A vegan diet has a positive impact on health. A study published in PLOS Medicine found that plant-based diets, especially those rich in high-quality plant foods, are associated with substantially lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Even for patients who do have T2D, a plant-based diet reversed insulin resistance. Since many plant-based foods tend to be low on the glycemic index, there is less risk of blood sugar spiking when eating them.
A vegan diet can be highly nutritious, as it contains a low amount of saturated fats and a high amount of nutrients. Although meat should be avoided, vegans can get the same nutrients through other alternatives such as tofu, tempeh, and seitan. As for food options, vegans can eat anything with the exception of animal products. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are the staple of each meal.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet emphasizes portion size, eating a variety of foods, and reducing sodium intake, while increasing potassium, calcium, and magnesium. While the diet is intended to help treat and prevent high blood pressure, it also reduces the risk of other diseases including diabetes. Foods in this diet include: fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Dairy is allowed as long as it is low-fat or fat free. Sweets and red meat should be limited.
Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
While the mediterranean diet may be high in fat, its effect on one’s health is striking. Adherence to the mediterranean diet was found to be the best dietary model to prevent coronary heart disease. In addition, the American Diabetes Association recommends this diet as it is shown to reduce overall mortality, prevent diabetes, and improve glycemic control in individuals with diabetes.
The mediterranean diet focuses on eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, and olive oil. Seafood should be eaten at least a couple of times a week whereas poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt can be consumed every once in a while. Sweets and red meat should be reserved for special occasions.
Health Benefits of the DASH Diet
The DASH diet has led to improvements in insulin sensitivity for those who are at risk for type 2 diabetes. A study revealed A1C levels decreased by roughly 2% while fasting blood glucose levels decreased by 29% under this diet. While the DASH diet is meant to reduce hypertension, it also reduces weight, allowing for improved glycemic control for people with type 2 diabetes.
Choosing the proper diet is critical in managing and preventing type 2 diabetes. With numerous diets to choose from, it can be overwhelming for patients to remember which foods to incorporate and how they are beneficial. If your patients are having difficulty eating healthy and managing their diabetes, share these diet options to get them on the right track.
- Estruch R, Ros E, Salas-Salvadó J, Covas M-I, Corella D, Arós F, et. al. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts N Engl J Med. 2018;378:e34
- Benson G, Pereira RF, Boucher JL. Rationale for the use of a mediterranean diet in diabetes management. American Diabetes Association. 2011;24(1):36-40.
- Campbell AP. DASH eating plan: an eating pattern for diabetes management. American Diabetes Association. 2017;30(2):76-81.
- Satija A, Bhupathiraju SN, Rimm EB, Spiegelman D, Chiuve SE, Borgi L, et. al. Plant-based dietary patterns and incidence of type 2 diabetes in US men and women: results from three prospective cohort studies. PLoS Med. 2016;13(6).
- McMacken M, Shah S. A plant-based diet for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. J Geriatr Cardiol. 2017;14(5):342-354.