Updated: Oct 25, 2020

There are four types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, prediabetes and gestational diabetes (during pregnancy). These types of diabetic conditions are different from diabetes insipidus which causes excessive urination. Type 2 (diabetes mellitus) is mostly influenced through a person’s lifestyle but it is also passed through hereditary so it is very crucial for children of diabetic parent(s) to have a healthy lifestyle to reduce their risk of developing it. It is a condition in which either insufficient insulin is produced or the body resists the effects of insulin. Now insulin is a hormone which helps regulate blood sugar level in our bodies therefore a person suffering from diabetes will have higher blood sugar level than normal. In prediabetic condition, the blood sugar levels are high but enough for a person to be diagnosed as diabetic. Usually prediabetic and gestational conditions are easily reversible through diet and exercise followed by type 2 which has better chances to be cured if diagnosed early but type 1 is an autoimmune disorder which is incurable. Below is a chart in which difference in blood sugar levels in milligram per deciliter (mg/dL) of a healthy individual are compared with a diabetic person.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes:

  1. Blurry vision.

  2. Slow healing of wounds.

  3. Polyuria (excessive urination).

  4. Polyphagia (excessive hunger).

  5. Polydipsia (excessive thirst).

  6. Lethargy.

  7. Tingling, numbness or pain in hands or feet.

  8. Unintended weight loss.

  9. Dark skin patches.

  10. Itching and yeast infection.

  11. Loss of sex drive and erectile dysfunction.

  12. Loss of muscle strength.

Complications of type 2 diabetes:

  1. Retinopathy: loss of vision.

  2. Neuropathy: damaged nerves.

  3. Nephropathy: damaged kidneys.

  4. Diabetic foot: slow healing of injuries on feet.

  5. Loss of hearing.

  6. Cardiovascular diseases.

  7. Depression and/or dementia.

Diet recommendations

A diet consisting of high protein, high fiber, limited fat and controlled amount of minimally processed carbohydrates. Whole fruits having low glycemic index and glycemic load may be beneficial. Heavily processed foods and snacks like baked items, chips, fast foods, candies, regular sodas and white bread should be kept to a minimum or completely eliminated depending on the severity of disorder.

Grains: whole grains such as whole wheat, brown rice, barley, millets, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, oats and rye.

Fruits: apples, blueberry, cherry, grapefruit, grape, orange, peach, pear, plum, strawberries and kiwi.

Vegetables: non starchy vegetables like broccoli, kale, collard greens etc.

Protein: eggs and lean meats like chicken and fish.

Dairy: low fat and no added sugar.

Fats: fatty fish, nuts, olive oils, avocados and vegetable oils such as sunflower, corn and soyabean oil.

Superfoods for diabetes

  1. Turmeric: can help reduce blood sugar levels, inflammation, and CVD risk. It has also been found to be beneficial to kidney health.

  2. Garlic: helps reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, inflammation and blood sugar levels along with blood pressure.

  3. Cinnamon: improves insulin sensitivity and lowers blood sugar levels while positively impacting cholesterol levels.

  4. Strawberries: rich source of antioxidants like vitamin C and anthocyanins. Has been shown to reduce sugar and cholesterol level after having a meal.

  5. Apple Cider Vinegar: helps with bowel movement and makes you feel full for longer. It also improves blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity.

  6. Flax and chia seeds: these are great sources of fiber, minerals and healthy fats. Both of them have been shown to reduce inflammation and CVD risk.

  7. Eggs (whole): these are not only a great source of protein but also contain antioxidants which reduce cell damage. Eggs help improve HDL (good) cholesterol levels and insulin sensitivity while keeping you full for longer.

  8. Broccoli: it is a rich source of magnesium, vitamin C and antioxidants and has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, protect cell damage and reduce risk of eye diseases.

  9. Extra virgin olive oil: it is a good source of fats and antioxidants which help in lowering LDL cholesterol and inflammation while reducing CVD risks.

  10. Fatty fish: not only a good source for lean protein, fatty fish is also a great source of omega 3 fatty acids which are beneficial to heart health.

References and further reading

Butler, N., 2018. Fruits For Diabetes: Options, GI, And Benefits. [online] Medicalnewstoday.com. Available at: <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/311220> [Accessed 17 July 2020].

Cradock, Kevin A., et al. "Behaviour change techniques targeting both diet and physical activity in type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis." International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 14.1 (2017): 1-17.

Diabetes.org. 2016. Fats | ADA. [online] Available at: <https://www.diabetes.org/nutrition/healthy-food-choices-made-easy/fats> [Accessed 10 July 2020].

Esposito, Katherine, et al. "Mediterranean diet for type 2 diabetes: cardiometabolic benefits." Endocrine 56.1 (2017): 27-32.

Ley, Sylvia H., et al. "Contribution of the Nurses’ Health Studies to uncovering risk factors for type 2 diabetes: diet, lifestyle, biomarkers, and genetics." American journal of public health 106.9 (2016): 1624-1630.

Meng, Yan, et al. "Efficacy of low carbohydrate diet for type 2 diabetes mellitus management: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials." Diabetes research and clinical practice 131 (2017): 124-131.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2020. Diabetes Diet, Eating, & Physical Activity | NIDDK. [online] Available at: <https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/diet-eating-physical-activity> [Accessed 12 July 2020].

Pletcher, P., 2020. The Best Diabetes-Friendly Diets To Help You Lose Weight. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/diabetic-friendly-diets-to-lose-weight> [Accessed 10 July 2020].

Sami, Waqas, et al. "Effect of diet on type 2 diabetes mellitus: A review." International journal of health sciences 11.2 (2017): 65.

Spritzler, F., 2017. The 16 Best Foods To Control Diabetes. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/16-best-foods-for-diabetics> [Accessed 11 July 2020].

Warwick, K., 2019. Fruits For Diabetes: Which Are The Best Choices?. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/fruits-for-diabetes> [Accessed 12 July 2020].