There is no saying as to who gets diabetes and who is safe from it. It can strike anytime and can affect anyone. More than a fifty percent and more of the population are prone to diabetes, say experts. According to studies by the famous WHO, it is estimated that worldwide around 380million and more people are diabetic already, and this number would double by the time we reach 2030.
Diabetes is a killer and more than what breast cancer and AIDS can be. It claims the lives of several people each year and can cause various other health complications like amputations, blindness, kidney failure and heart failure or strokes as well.
It is an enormous and a humungous task living healthily as a diabetic and can be a burden too both- physically and emotionally as well. And this is not just for the one living with diabetes, but for their loved ones too.
Today, we shall learn more about this disease and know what to do to control the same, and also give you information about fruits for diabetics, because we do not wish that the sweetness of your life gets robbed away. Please read on and be well-informed.
What Is Diabetes?
When you suffer from diabetes, your pancreas fails to produce powerful insulin that can aid metabolism and regulate your blood sugar level. And there are a lot of things that can go awry, which motivate the diabetes onset. There are two forms of diabetes- type 1 and type 2. And there is also the dreaded gestational diabetes- happens to most expectant mothers.
Type 1 Diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes is a very severe form of diabetes, where the individual suffering from it has to take insulin shots. Also known as juvenile diabetes, this is a diabetes type that usually is seen in all age groups, but most commonly found amongst teens and younger kids. What happens is that the immune system fails to recognize the pancreas production of insulin as a potent need for the body. It perceives the insulin here as a criminal invader in the body and hence attacks and destroys the vital enzyme. This is also known as an autoimmune disease in the medical world.
Islets are these cells which strongly sense the high glucose levels in the bloodstream. And when needed, they produce the insulin amounts needed in the body, so as to metabolize the levels of blood sugar in the body. Insulin is the key as mentioned, which opens the cells and allows the glucose to enter them. If this does not happen, then the body does not get energy from the glucose. The lack of insulin thus would make the sugar levels in the blood to rise. What then happens is that the cells start dying out of starvation, because there is no glucose coming in. If left further unchecked, this can cause damage to various vital organs and other parts of the body- the eyes, nerves, kidneys and the heart. And this can be fatal too!
This means the individual with type 1 diabetes has to take insulin injections so that they can metabolize the glucose in the bloodstream for meeting the energy needs of the body. There are many factors that determine the amount of insulin intake per shot, such as:
- The diet of the individual
- The lifestyle of the individual
- The stress level
- Emotional balance
- Overall health
Too much of insulin intake can make the body burn more glucose, and this would drop the levels of sugar in the bloodstream. This can be dangerous, and the health condition thereafter is called hypoglycemia. If this is not treated, it can be fatal and can cause death. On the other hand, if one does not take the right amount of insulin, there would be low amounts of energy in the body, and the body would not be able to control the rising blood sugar levels, which can be dangerous. This would lead to a condition called hyperglycemia, which can lead to long-term ill effects on your overall health.
Type 2 Diabetes:
Type 2 diabetes is a very common form of diabetes, and one does not have to depend on insulin shots for this form of diabetes, say doctors. It is also known as adult-onset diabetes since mostly it is seen after you cross the mid-thirties. But that does not mean, those below the said age group do not get it- they too are prone to type 2 diabetes.
In this form of diabetes, the body is able to produce its own insulin. However, in most cases, it is seen that the insulin production is not enough. In most cases, type 2 diabetes is seen among people who have a sedentary lifestyle and those who are overweight or obese. Hence, along with medicines, the doctor would advise the patient to follow an exercise regime and diet. Very rarely in type 2 diabetes would the need for insulin injections arise.
Now that you have an overview of what diabetes is all about and the type of diabetes seen around, let’s now talk about fruits for diabetics – are they good or bad for you?
Everyone loves having a fruit or two on a day to day basis. It is one good way to eat healthily, and another way to curb hunger pangs, and also lose weight. Eating a fruit every day is a good way to satiate your hunger pangs in between meals, and experts say, it helps you meet your daily nutrition needs too. But wait, don’t fruits have sugar? And isn’t sugar bad for diabetics? Can diabetics enjoy the goodness of fruits? Let’s take a look!
What Experts Have To Say?
There are some fruits that have seeds in them but no sugars- cucumbers and tomatoes for example! Think about it! Even nuts and avocado are fruits, and they do not have sugar in them. They are strongly recommended for diabetics as they will increase the fiber intake and boost digestion and metabolism. Also, diabetics should eat seasonal fruits but in moderate quantities. Portion-size is of critical importance for people suffering from diabetes.
Can a Fruit a Day Help Manage Diabetes?
- As long as you have enough of fiber intake while eating a fruit, it can help in managing your diabetes, say doctors. The diet of diabetics should be high in soluble fiber though, which helps slow down the sugar absorption in the bloodstream and prevent the levels of blood sugar from spiking. Most fruits you find are rich in fiber, and if you eat the skin of the fruit along with the fruit, there would be more fiber intake too. This would be very filling for your stomach and your body will get the dose of water and vitamins and minerals in good amounts too.
- When you have enough of fruits on a daily basis or veggies too, it can bring down the risk of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular issues and more. Type 2 diabetes and obesity are interlinked by the way!
- Avoid processed fruits as the fiber has already been removed. You need to have organic and fresh fruits to keep your blood sugar levels in check.
- The well known National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), opine that a diabetic individual can have a fruit a day or two as per the doctor’s guidance to regulate the blood sugar levels in the body. But you should have fruits along with a balanced diet so that the body gets a good amount of energy and the blood sugar also remains in check. There are some fruits such as mangoes that have a high sugar content. However, if you plan a healthy meal, you can have mangoes once a day. Speak to your dietitian before consuming the same.
- Instead of having sugary sweets and candies, a fruit can help bring down the sweet cravings too. Snacking on fruits can be a healthy idea, rather than increase your carb intake by munching on a packet of potato chips. You can have a fruit salad that has bananas that have potassium in it, along with citrus fruits which have vitamin C in it and maybe grapes can be added for the high amount of antioxidants in it too.
- A single serving per day the size of a baseball is more than enough for diabetics to have, say experts. You can add a few dried fruits and enjoy the varied flavors without worrying about increasing your blood sugar.
Expert talk on fruits for diabetics
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) experts opine, as long as one is not allergic to fruits of any kind, it is fine for consumption. However, the fresher the better. This is because frozen or processed fruits have been stripped off their goodness. So consuming anything canned or dried or processed is avoidable, especially for diabetics.
Fruits That Have A Low Glycemic Index:
Fruits That Have A Medium Glycemic Index:
- Honeydew melon
Fruits That Have A High Glycemic Index:
Some Food For Thought:
Remember, that fruits that have a low glycemic index are slowly digested, absorbed and metabolized and cause a slow and low rise in blood sugar levels. Hence, they are a safer bet in comparison to those fruits that have a high or medium glycemic index. Since quantity and quality of food both are crucial factors for diabetics. It is important to vary the size of the serving as per the glycemic index of the fruit. This will ensure that you don’t feel deprived yet don’t suffer from health complications too.
Here are a few healthy and tasty food options for diabetics. The variety of flavors can pamper your taste buds too.
Fruits from the citrus family are yummy, versatile and very easy to add to all your meals. Limes and lemons especially can be added in more ways than one or just juiced up fresh and had. You can have them as a whole, as slices or even as a fruit water detox drink too.
You can enjoy the goodness of berries in different forms cooked or raw, or as toppings for meals and snacks. You can even use them as an ingredient for dishes you plan to bake and add them to your glass of smoothie to enjoy a wholesome and delicious meal.
An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away:
The delicious popular fruit can be eaten as a dessert after meals or as a snack in between meals. You can spice them up with a dash of herbs and lime and salt too.
Relish Some Mediterranean Delight:
Avocado is a fruit that is rich in fats but those are good fats for the body. The monosaturated fats ensure that the heart can stay healthy and the cholesterol levels remain low too. You can eat an avocado raw or slice it up and use it in a sandwich, or salsa and pasta too. You can even chop an avocado and use it as topping or as an addition to your salads as well.
Hence, it does not mean that a serving needs to be fruit based only; plan your meal and include those fruits that are good for diabetics and enjoy your bites.
Smoothies For Diabetics!
Sounds too good to be true! Right? No, it’s time to think again. Since you love smoothies, here are a couple of delicious options we have for you which you can churn using the best fruits for diabetics.
What fruits are good for diabetics to use for smoothies?
Health experts recommend this list of fruits as must-add in your glass of smoothies!
- Cherries have a GI Score of 22, and a GL of 3
- Grapefruits have a GI Score of 25 and a GL of 3
- Pears have a GI Score of 38 and a GL of 4.2
- Apples have a GI Score of 38 and a GL of 5.7
- Plums have a GI Score of 39 and a GL of 5.7
- Strawberries have a GI Score of 40 and a GL of 3.8
- Oranges have a GI Score of 42 and a GL of 5.9
- Easpberries have a GI Score of 32 and a GL of 2.6
A Point To Remember:
When making a smoothie avoid the sugar! Do not add sugar at all to the low cal smoothies you are making using fruits good for diabetics. And, do not use canned or processed fruits when making smoothies, since they have added sugar which is bad for you.
Hope this article on fruits for diabetics was insightful for you. If you have further questions about diabetes management and types of fruits to have, please do speak to your doctor. Remember a healthy diet and an active lifestyle are key to your fitness.
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