Dubbed the Diabetes Capital of the world, India is next only to China in the number of diabetics. The International Diabetes Foundation states that one in every 11 Indians has diabetes. A combination of genetic and environmental factors, combined with lifestyle changes over the last few decades, has led to an increase in these numbers. The regular Indian diet also lacks protein and is loaded with carbohydrates. But, it is not impossible to reverse Type 2 diabetes even if you consume a primarily Indian diet. You can pick Indian foods over fast food and still make healthier food choices.
The role of food in diabetes
Food plays a very important role in the management of diabetes. If you are a diabetic, your body is unable to use up the sugar derived from the foods you eat. This, in turn, builds up as excess sugar in the bloodstream. Eating unhealthy foods will not only raise your blood sugar levels but will also up the risk of diabetes-related complications. A diabetes-friendly diet will keep blood sugar levels in check, help control cholesterol, and prevent weight gain. You can learn how to control diabetes with Indian food, without giving up your favourite dishes. A healthy diet, combined with exercise and an active lifestyle, can even help reverse Type 2 diabetes.
While low carbohydrate diets are promoted as a solution to all health problems, obesity and diabetes included, that is not really the case. Your body needs fuel, and carbs are an important source of energy. When you cut down on carbs, your body breaks down protein and fats. Following a moderate diet that is rich in nutrients and loaded with fibre and protein will provide nourishment to the body and keep blood sugar in check to help reverse Type 2 diabetes.
Indian food and diabetes
Extreme changes in your diet are not sustainable in the long run. Thus, it is important to follow a diet and exercise routine that you can stick with. If you learn how to control diabetes with Indian food, you will not have to stock up on expensive ingredients. Indian diet is mainly vegetarian, which can be beneficial for persons with diabetes. Vegetables and fruits are packed with nutrients, rich in fibre and low in sugar. Wholegrain foods like Rotis and idlis are good for controlling your blood sugar levels. If you are a non-vegetarian, consume lean meats that are a good source of healthy fats. Eggs are packed with protein and are advisable for diabetics. To stabilise blood sugar levels, eat smaller meals throughout the day.
How to control diabetes with Indian food
Incorporate the following foods in your Indian diet plan to reverse Type 2 diabetes:
Choose healthy fats: Avoid saturated fats and fried foods that cause blood sugar spikes, and pick good fats rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. These regulate insulin levels and improve blood flow, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Foods rich in good fats are seeds like pumpkin and sunflower, nuts like walnuts, fish, avocado, and oils like sunflower and olive.
Eat whole foods: Swap refined flours with whole flours. The Indian diet has plenty of whole-grain options to choose from: whole wheat flour, buckwheat, pearl millet, black gram flour, maize flour, etc. These are not only rich in protein but have high fibre content and a low glycemic index that helps stabilise blood sugar. Eating whole foods regularly can benefit in the long run and help reverse Type 2 diabetes.
Focus on protein: Indian diet can be low in protein, so you should make a conscious choice to eat more protein while on a diet designed to reverse Type 2 diabetes. Sources of protein in a vegetarian diet can include soybean, kidney beans, legumes and pulses. Include dairy proteins like low-fat milk, low-fat paneer, and yoghurt. If you are non-vegetarian, incorporate lean meats like chicken, fatty fish and eggs into your diet.
Vegetables: These are loaded with fibre and pack in a bunch of vitamins and minerals. These keep you full longer and aid weight loss, in addition to maintaining blood sugar levels. Leafy greens, in particular, are low in carbs and reduce the risk of diabetes. India has a variety of fresh vegetables around the year. Include beans, peas, spinach, leafy vegetables, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, etc. in your diet. Vegetables like bitter gourd are good for diabetes control.
Indian superfoods: Control diabetes by including other Indian spices and foods in your diet. These include turmeric, cinnamon, fenugreek, garlic, brown rice, nuts and oil seeds.
Indian diet can help reverse Type 2 diabetes if you make healthy food choices. Include whole-grain foods, healthy fats, vegetables, and lean protein in your diet. Eliminate refined foods, deep-fried foods, processed meats and beverages and sweets loaded with sugar. Eat a low-fat, moderate-carb Indian diet to keep your blood sugar levels in check.