4 minute read
What superfoods can help to support diabetics?
Diabetes isn't just about steering clear of certain foods; it's about the incredible power of the foods you do eat.
Whether you're determined to prevent or to manage type 1 or type 2 diabetes, we've got a mouthwatering lineup of superfoods to share with you.
A diabetes diagnosis shouldn't sentence you to a bland diet—it can be a thrilling call to discover new meals, new flavors, and catalyze a new you!
HOW DOES DIABETES WORK?
Diabetes is like a broken key to an important door; the door leads to our cells, the key is insulin, and the guest is sugar from the food we eat.
Why does this doorway need to exist?
At its most basic form, this doorway allows us to convert our food to energy. It’s important to survive!
In a healthy individual without diabetes, the doors (cells) and keys (insulin) work together smoothly. When we eat any food, glucose increases in our bloodstream, and insulin acts as the key that unlocks the doors of the cells.
This allows glucose to enter the cells, where it is used for energy production and various cellular processes.
So far, the whole process looks like this;
food -> x keys -> sugar from food knocks on the cell doors -> x keys lets sugar in -> (once it’s inside it gets converted to the energy we use to live).
Diabetes is where the keys stop working. The body (for many reasons) stops responding to insulin, and the sugar we get from food stays outside the cell, in the bloodstream. This leads to high blood sugar and a snowball of negative repercussions.
Pre-diabetes is when this system has started to go wrong, type 2 diabetes is when this system has gone wrong because of our lifestyle, and type 1 diabetes is when this system has been wrong since birth.
So, how can we prevent and manage diabetes simply, effectively…and surprisingly tastily?
Prevention and management of diabetes depends on 4 main pillars;
- Weight management
Let’s break these down.
Exercise improves insulin sensitivity, which means the keys work better in your cell doors. How? Because muscle is a hormone regulator!
Through a system (almost) as complex as the internet, moving your muscles and having more muscle both improve how well your insulin keys work in your cell doors.
Regular physical activity also supports weight management, which reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by controlling blood sugar.
And how does your weight alone affect your blood sugar?
Because fat is also a hormone regulator!
Fat itself (especially around the abdomen) can have an impact on our insulin sensitivity.
There is another kind of secret hormone regular, one that we have much quicker control over; food.
Food for diabetics and managing diabetes has a reputation for being bland, boring and limited. We know it doesn’t have to be that way because we have some diabetes-friendly superfood ideas that are nutrient-boosting, and tasty at the same time!
Shilajit is a tar-like substance derived from mountainous rock (which, we know doesn't sound like much) but this unusual superfood has been shown to improve cell function, increase glucose sensitivity, and improve glucose uptake (1).
If we go back to our original metaphor, this means that shilajit can gather the keys, get them to the cell door, and improve the cell’s ability to process the sugar all in one!
You only need a pea-sized drop of shilajit per day, and it’s fairly tasteless. Take a look over here for some shilajit recipe inspiration.
Hemp Protein might seem like an unlikely candidate for managing or preventing diabetes, but inadequate protein intake is actually a huge reason for imbalanced blood sugar.
Getting enough protein in your diet is crucial for
- Preventing glucose spikes from meals by slowing down absorption
- Building muscle that contributes to glucose regulation
- Maintaining a healthy weight
If you already have smoothies, pancakes, or porridge, hemp protein will be a no-brainer addition to your daily routine - a heaped tablespoon or two into the original recipe will help to balance your blood sugar post-meal.
To learn more about the full host of amino acids, omega fatty acids, fiber, and gut-loving goodness in this superfood, check this out.
Seamoss is a kind of seaweed, swimming with an abundance of organic nutrients (it’s among the most mineral dense plants in the world). Like the rest of the seaweeds, seamoss also has an effect on glucose regulation, improving insulin sensitivity and improving the uptake in cells.
If you’re choosing seamoss, we would recommend going for one mixed with cinnamon (or mix some cinnamon into it yourself). Cinnamon can reduce blood sugar levels by up to 24% - that’s incredible for a few teaspoons of an ‘everyday’ kitchen spice (2)!
Diabetes can also be affected or influenced by certain medications. We always recommend consulting your doctor to find out more about this.
Managing diabetes with superfoods should always be secondary to your doctor's advice, and if you’re concerned about pre-diabetes or diabetes prevention, you should consult your doctor. However, hemp protein, shilajit, seamoss, and cinnamon, are safe, tasty, and easy additions for nearly everyone’s diet!
- Trivedi, Niyati & B, Mazumdar & Bhatt, Jagatkumar & Hemavathi, K.G.. (2004). Research Paper - Effect of shilajit on blood glucose and lipid profile in alloxaninduced diabetic rats. Indian Journal of Pharmacology (ISSN: 0253-7613) Vol 36 Num 6. 36.
- Fulghum, D. (2008). Does Cinnamon Help Diabetes? [online] WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/cinnamon-and-benefits-for-diabetes.