In India, over 30 million people are suffering from diabetes. According to the International Diabetes Federation, there were 72,946,400 registered cases of diabetes in 2017. The prevalence of diabetes among Indians in the age group of 20-79 years is estimated to be 8.8%. Among developing nations, India follows China with the second-highest number of patients suffering from diabetes. This lifestyle disorder is identified by the body’s inability to produce or utilize the hormone insulin, thereby increasing the level of glucose in the blood. Compared to Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes is more common among Indians.
The prevalence of diabetes is often associated with lifestyle and diet. A stressful and sedentary lifestyle can lead to impulsive eating and obesity. Skipping meals frequently or binge eating deep-fried foods or sweetened beverages can lead to a number of health issues, diabetes being one of them. A healthy diet and physical exercises are a way to avoid an increased level of blood glucose.
Food Items to be Included in Diet to Control Blood Glucose Levels
It is important for people suffering from diabetes to eat well, in small portions and in a timely manner. Diabetics are often recommended to balance the blood glucose level through a particular diet, accompanied by physical activities and diabetes medicine. A diabetic meal plan includes:
- Whole Grains: such as wheat, quinoa, oats, and barley.
- Proteins: Lean meat, eggs, fish, dried beans, chickpeas and split peas.
- Healthy Fats: Nuts and seeds, oils such as olive oil and canola oil.
- Non-fat or low-fat dairy products: milk, yoghurt and cheese.
- Fruits & Vegetables: Fruits with low sugar content and non-starchy vegetables.
People suffering from high blood glucose levels need to watch their intake of fried food items containing a high amount of trans fat and saturated fat, and food and drinks containing a high amount of sugar.
Calorie Intake in a Timely Manner
Dieticians suggest that the amount and timing of food intake should be monitored to lower blood glucose level. Intake of meals, especially carbohydrates need to be spaced evenly in a day. Too much of carbohydrates at any one time would shoot up glucose level in blood. In a similar fashion, skipping a meal would lead to hypoglycemia, thereby bringing down blood glucose levels lower than normal. Hypoglycemia should be taken seriously as it can be fatal. The key to plan meal times and calorie intake is to prevent hypoglycemia. Ideally, people with diabetes need to eat the same amount of carbohydrates during each meal. Further, it is important to eat after every 4-6 hours in a day. Meal plan methods such as plate method and carbohydrate counting should be implemented in daily diet.
Indian Food Preparations for Diabetics
While planning a meal chart to curb high blood glucose level, it is also necessary to choose tasty staples, containing nutrients. Staples such as rice and potato in an Indian diet are rich in carbohydrates and hence, to be avoided while trying to lower blood glucose levels. However, there are multiple Indian food preparations that are low in starch and sugar and yet full of nutrients; an ideal combination for people suffering from diabetes.
Regular intake of Chapatis made up of whole grains such as ragi, curries made with non-starchy vegetables and less oil, and homemade snacks containing ragi and oats can help in regulating lower blood glucose levels as well as in weight management. Obesity and increased glucose level in blood are closely related and hence, it is important for diabetics to monitor their weight. Further, some of the spices used in Indian style of cooking are also known to help in diabetes. For example, studies have suggested that regular intake of fenugreek seeds or methi soaked in water can help lower blood glucose levels. Here is an outline of a South Indian diabetic-friendly diet:
Diabetes-Friendly South Indian Breakfast:
- Steamed idli with chutney and sambar (both containing less salt)
- Soft dosa made with oats, rice, mixed lentils; prepared with less oil
- Adai (golden dosa made up of mixed daal and rice)
- Upma prepared with quinoa, cracked wheat, or rice flakes (poha)
- Ragi (finger millet) dosas and idiyappams
- Pongal made with brown rice
- Tea or coffee without sugar
Diabetes-Friendly Mid-Morning Snack:
- Fruits with low-sugar content such as oranges, guava, apples, peaches, Indian gooseberry (amla) and black plum (jamun)
- Unsalted nuts
Diabetes-Friendly South Indian Lunch:
- Brown rice quinoa, broken millets
- Poriyals with non-starchy vegetables such as beans, carrots, cabbage
- Sambhar with non-starchy vegetables
- Kootu or mixed vegetable curry with water-based vegetables
- Plain daal or greens blended lentil soup
- A bowl of curd without salt and sugar
Diabetes-Friendly Evening Snacks:
- Roasted flaked rice
- Ragi and oats crackers
- Roasted papads topped with vegetables
- Tea or coffee without sugar
Diabetes-Friendly South Indian Dinner:
- Oats porridge with vegetables
- Wheat chapatis with daal and vegetables
- Brown rice with vegetables
For non-vegetarians, grilling meat or making it into a curry instead of deep-frying will be wise to avoid intake of extra calories. Lean meats such as chicken and fish should be preferred.
There are certain South Indian food preparations though, that are to be avoided by diabetics. Intake of excess of saturated fat in the form of coconut oil can become a roadblock on the way to healthy eating. Deep-fried foods such as medu vada, murukku, fried pappads, chips with banana, jackfruit, potato, and tapioca, pakoras and samosas; sweets such as laddoos, halwa, payasam, and others made up of jaggery; and dips and chutneys made up of coconut. It is often said that traditional recipes are best for health but making a few small changes in the recipes will help to keep control over blood glucose levels.
Purayati’s Diacec for Diabetes Care has been formulated for patients suffering from Diabetes Mellitus or Type 2 diabetes. The product is of vegetarian origins and contains extracts from fruits such as Indian gooseberry (amla) and black plum (jamun) that have been known to regulate increased levels of blood glucose. This highly efficacious product is manufactured at ISO 9001:2008 and Ayush certified plant and can be used in diabetes management. However, it is strongly advised to consult with your physician before using the product.