Living with diabetes mellitus (simply known as diabetes) is often a lifelong struggle especially when it comes down to maintaining a given diet for the rest of one’s life. Asides cutting out certain ingredients from foods like salt and seasoning to reduce sugar levels in the blood, eating accordingly can be difficult to keep up.
In this article, we outline 7 Best Nigerian foods for everyone with Diabetes. The food list enumerated in this post is helpful as figuring out what to eat can be obviously tough for most West African diabetic patients. For instance, average Nigerians have their often-consumed comestibles as staple foods that are rich in starch like rice, white bread, yam, cassava flakes (garri), fufu, white flour, etc. which are known increasers of blood sugar levels. However, the good thing about our list of recommended foods to control diabetes is that they are very accessible and available in the regular Nigerian markets.
Basically, there are three main types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes: this type occurs when the pancreas does not secrete insulin for the body. Insulin is the hormone that is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. The insulin does this by interacting with the liver and helping the body cells take in glucose from the blood and then convert it to energy. The inability of the pancreas to secrete sufficient insulin results in type 1 diabetes. This is also called juvenile diabetes because it is mostly predominant in children and adolescents.
Type 2 diabetes: this type occurs when the body system is unable to process glucose in the bloodstream. With this condition, the body secretes insufficient insulin or resists insulin completely. It is also called adult-onset diabetes.
Gestational diabetes: as the name implies, it usually affects women during pregnancy. In this condition, the pancreas releases little or no insulin for the body.
The role of diet when it comes to managing diabetes cannot be overemphasized as the level of sugar in the blood is heavily influenced by the foods we eat. Below are our best picks for foods that will help manage diabetes in adults and in children.
Diet for diabetes
1. Green leafy Vegetables
The minerals, nutrients and important vitamins contained in green leafy vegetables have a lot of benefits to the body and impact sugar levels positively. These vegetables are also known to contain antioxidants and enzymes that break down starch easily which make them very beneficial for diabetic patients.
Some of the green leafy vegetables that can be easily found in Nigerian markets include: Spinach, cabbage, broccoli, pumpkin leaves (ugu), bushbuck (utazi), and waterleaf.
An easy way to incorporate these vegetables into one’s daily diet and meals is by preparing them in form of salads, vegetable soup, side dishes and so on. When taken in the right proportion, the vitamins in leafy vegetables improve general health and also help to prevent heart and eye challenges which are common in diabetic patients.
Among the several benefits of eating avocado every day is the fact that it contains healthy fats and is rich in fibre. With their creamy and delicious taste, avocados are low in carbohydrates which make them very suitable for diabetic patients. Because of the healthy fats contained in avocados, consuming them regularly can help to protect a diabetic patient from other health complications like heart diseases or stroke. Avocados are also high in potassium which further promotes the overall health of the patient. They are best taken as breakfasts.
Nuts are almost always good sources of fibre, polyunsaturated fats, protein and minerals. They are also very helpful in burning energy from the body. For people with diabetes, walnuts are healthy and beneficial additions to their diet. Fatty acids contained in walnuts are excellent for the heart and since most diabetic patients are at risk of heart-related diseases, eating walnuts is totally beneficial. Another good side to eating walnuts is that they are high in omega-3 fatty acids which protect the body from high blood pressure and improve good cholesterol. Walnuts are in abundance during rainy season. They also taste great, so snacking on them is easy and fun. Endeavour to go for the plain or dried ones (not fried).
4. Sweet potatoes
Managing diabetes does not necessarily mean an everlasting cycle of deprivation and avoiding all “sweet” stuff. So yes, one can add sweet potatoes to the diet. Unlike white or Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes contain low sugar which is released more slowly to the body. Hence, sweet potatoes do not increase blood sugar levels. More so, sweet potatoes contain potassium, fibre and vitamins A and E which make them a healthy alternative to starchy foods. You can have them together with leafy vegetables in a salad form or simply boil, bake or roast as desired.
5. Unripe plantains
Unripe plantains make a healthy side dish for people suffering from diabetes mellitus. They do not raise blood sugar levels and contain high dietary fibre and potassium. You can eat unripe plantains by roasting or boiling them. They can also be dried and grinded into powder form to be eaten as plantain flour.
Beans are a super food when it comes to blood sugar control. It is an ideal alternative to rice and other starchy foods for diabetic patients as it contains a low glycaemic index (GI). Having beans in the diet is a great choice for people with diabetes as it also helps to stabilize blood sugar levels because they are slow to digest. You can eat it as porridge or with veggies.
Eggs are low-carb foods that can be added to a diabetic diet. They are a good source of protein, vitamins A and D, and potassium. Furthermore, the high protein content in eggs is beneficial in maintaining steady blood sugar levels and improving general health. It is best to eat one boiled egg for breakfast as it is believed that it can help stabilize the blood glucose level of the patient for the rest of the day.
From the foregoing, it is beautiful to realise that having diabetes is not a life sentence to eating boring or bland tasteless meals. Follow our food list and enjoy diets that are rich and fun while maintaining a healthy blood sugar level.
Are you suffering from either type of diabetes mellitus? Speak with a Doctor on other best ways to manage the condition. A Professional Dietician can also help you to find the most beneficial food options for your need and help with meal plans.
Living with Diabetes can be easier when you make right and healthy food choices, and we hope the food choices explored above will be helpful.
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