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  • Dietary Guidelines
  • Foods and Herbs Commonly Used in the Treatment of
         Diabetes

                Grains and Legumes
                Vegetables and Fruits
                Herbs
                Animal and Sea Products





    Anyone with diabetes needs a carefully planned diet. Although the general advice for most diabetics are similar, individual needs do differ slightly, depending on the type of diabetes and other factors such as body weight, how physically active the person is, the timing and type of insulin injections and of the diabetic's sensitivity to insulin and other drugs. Often, a reduced-sugar or low-calorie diet is recommended.

    Until the 1970s, diabetics were advised to follow a high-fat and low- carbohydrate diet. However, since then, increasing evidence has linked high-fat diets with heart disease and emphasized the benefits offered by carbohydrates in reducing coronary risk. The ability to control blood glucose levels in diabetes by eating foods that are rich in carbohydrates has also been recognized. Today, recommendations for diabetics are based on a diet that is high in complex carbohydrates, high in fiber and low in sugar and fat.

    The aims of such a diet are to stop immediate symptoms, often through diet and exercise alone in cases of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), and reduce the risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), which mainly affects those with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). These diets are also designed to avoid the long-term complications associated with diabetes--heart disease, eye problems and kidney failure. They apply equally to children and teenagers with diabetes.


    Dietary Guidelines

    Treatment always involves a carefully controlled and healthily balanced diet that restricts the patient's intake of simple carbohydrates and reduces concentrated sugar and sugary drinks.

    There are general dietary guidelines that diabetes sufferers can follow to help keep their blood sugar levels under control:

  • Avoid being overweight. Make sure you eat a balanced, healthy diet based on complex carbohydrates such as unrefined grains, vegetables and beans. If you do need to lose weight, see your doctor or nutritionist to formulate a diet tailored to your needs.

  • Eat regular meals and avoid late-night eating. Small, frequent meals (four or five daily) help to stimulate insulin production.

  • Eat more starchy, high-fiber foods such as whole-grain bread, beans, peas and lentils. All of these foods cause only a gradual rise in blood sugar because the fiber content slows down the release of glucose. Nutritionists have also identified chromium, zinc and manganese as factors which control blood sugar levels. These minerals are removed in the refining process which produces white flour, white sugar, refined salt, and many highly processed foods. In whole grains, these minerals reside in the bran.

  • Cut down on sugary sweetened soft drinks, cakes, confectionery and chocolate. The sugar is absorbed quickly and therefore causes blood glucose levels to rise more rapidly. Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables for soluble fiber and vitamins. Fruit makes an ideal snack, but beware of eating very sweet fruits such as grapes or mangoes; or acidic, sour flavored fruits such as lemons and grapefruits in large amounts because of their effect on your blood sugar level. If you do eat tinned fruit, choose those canned in natural juice rather than syrup. Dried fruits such as dates are a concentrated form of sugar and so should only be consumed in small quantities.

  • Cut down on greasy and fatty foods (meats, eggs, cheese, butter, excess oil, nuts and seeds) and avoid denatured foods (refined flour and sugar, synthetic fats such as margarine and shortening), which stress the liver, weaken the spleen-pancreas, and aggravate the diabetic's increased risk of coronary heart disease. However, to maintain a balanced diet, make sure that you have portions of meat, eggs or cheese as part of at least two of your meals each day. Keep the portions small, and remember that fish and pulses are alternative sources of protein.

  • Limit salt and salty foods, because of the diabetic's increased susceptibility to high blood pressure. Be aware of hidden salt in many tinned, smoked and processed foods.

  • Keep alcohol consumption at moderate levels, remembering that low-sugar diet beers and lagers tend to have a high alcohol content.

  • Chew thoroughly. Chewing properly improves nutrient assimilation particularly with complex carbohydrates, whose digestion begins with saliva. Thorough chewing is essential for their complete breakdown so that adequate minerals and other nutrients are absorbed.

  • Drink water, or sugar-free drinks.


    Foods and Herbs Commonly Used in the Treatment of
    Diabetes


    Eating a wide sampling of foods and herbs from the following list strengthens the pancreas, regulates blood sugar, and at the same time improves the fluid metabolism. Diabetics should choose one or more of these foods and herbs daily as part of a primarily vegetarian diet of unrefined grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, herbs, and a limited amount of nuts and seeds.

    Grains and Legumes

    barley
    bean curd and soy products
    chick-pea
    fresh corn
    hyacinth bean
    kidney bean
    millet
    mung bean
    oats
    pea
    peach kernel
    rice
    sweet rice
    whole wheat and its bran

    Vegetables and Fruits

    asparagus
    avocado
    bitter gourd
    calabash
    carrot
    coconut
    grapefruit
    guava
    kiwi fruit
    lemon
    mulberry fruit
    pear
    plum
    radish
    sweet potato
    spinach
    turnip
    water chestnut
    watermelon
    wax gourd

    Herbs

    alismatis rhizome
    black plum
    Chinese gall
    Chinese yam
    common reed rhizome
    dandelion
    dogwood fruit
    fleece flower root
    ginseng
    java brucea fruit
    kudzu vine root
    large leaf gentian root
    magnolia vine fruit
    mutan bark
    ophipogon root
    ox-knee root
    rehmannia root and prepared rehmannia root
    trichosanthes root
    tuckahoe
    windweed rhizome
    wolfberry bark
    wolfberry fruit

    Animal and Sea Products

    beef
    chicken and black-bone chicken
    cow's milk and goat's milk
    cow stomach
    mutton
    pork kidney
    pork pancreas
    sparrow
    abalone
    clam
    loach









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