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Type 2 Diabetes Diet Plan | Health & Fitness Expert
Type 2 diabetes diet plan: Sensible, carb-conscious meal ideas
More than 100 million Americans are currently living with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, according to the latest government stats. While you let that sink in, let me explain a little bit about how these conditions develop. Everything you eat gets broken down so your body can use the raw materials to carry out its daily functions (thinking, breathing, moving, and on and on). When you eat carbohydrates from foods like grains, sweets, starchy veggies, fruits and beans, those carbs get broken down to glucose, which is the primary source of energy for your cells. (Ever heard of carb-loading before a marathon? The theory behind this has to do with stock-piling those carbs for energy.)
In order for that energy to reach your cells, your pancreas pumps out insulin. You can think of insulin like a delivery truck; its job is to transport glucose to your cells where it can be used for energy. (If it’s transported to your cells but isn’t used for energy, it’s stored in your muscle or liver cells as glycogen and then used at a later time.)
In certain situations, your cells become less responsive to insulin, so it’s as if no one is available to sign off on the package and the delivery truck can’t deliver energy to your cells. In this case, glucose sticks around in your blood stream. When this happens, your pancreas works overtime to pump out more insulin in an effort to get that energy to your cells. Ultimately, the pancreas can’t keep up its overtime work, glucose remains in your blood stream since your cells aren’t responding to it, and your blood sugar rises above normal levels.
What’s the difference between prediabetes and diabetes?
In both prediabetes and diabetes, your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but the main difference between these two conditions is whether your blood sugar reaches the cutoff point to be diagnosed with diabetes. Most people aren’t aware they have prediabetes, yet if it’s left untreated, there’s a high chance prediabetes will progress to diabetes. However, if it’s caught, studies show a holistic lifestyle approach that involves a healthy eating plan, some routine activity, and a small amount of weight loss can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent or more.
What can I eat if I have prediabetes or diabetes?
With either condition, your meal plan is pretty similar to other healthy meal plans, like the Mediterranean Diet or a plant-based diet. In fact, studies suggest that a plant-centered eating pattern rich in foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds can help improve insulin sensitivity, which means your cells continue to respond to insulin, allowing your delivery truck to drop off those energy packages. These types of foods, along with foods like coffee, tea and extra virgin olive oil, are high in polyphenol compounds, which are thought to play a role in lowering your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
While carbs are encouraged on this plan, you may need to adjust how you eat your carbs. A diabetes-friendly eating plan emphasizes smart carb choices eaten in the right portions and eaten steadily throughout the day at each of your three meals. That means balancing out your carb choices with other nutritious foods and keeping portion sizes more modest than you may be used to.
A diabetes-friendly eating pattern is also lower in overly processed sweets, sugary drinks and refined snacks, though you don’t need to eliminate your favorite foods to get healthier.
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