A diagnosis of prediabetes or diabetes can be alarming – at any age. That said, nutrition therapy from a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can help you manage, prevent, and even, in some cases, reverse the disease’s progress.
Type 2 diabetes is closely related to a person’s weight (progressing from overweight to obesity), unhealthy dietary choices and a sedentary lifestyle. Though there are vast differences in the causes and management between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, dietary recommendations, which are updated yearly by the American Diabetes Association, do not differentiate between them.
Current evidence strongly suggests lifestyle changes along with weight loss can, in most cases, overcome the genetic risk of the disease in people with prediabetes or a recent type 2 diabetes diagnosis. The ultimate goals of the management of diabetes are to control blood sugar on a daily basis and to prevent the complications of diabetes, including macro- and microvascular diseases such as cardiovascular disease, retinal diseases and renal disease.
Healthy dietary patterns remain the cornerstone of diet therapy for diabetes:
Carbohydrate recommendations have changed considerably over time. High quality sources such as whole grains, unrefined starchy vegetables, pulses, vegetables, and fruits are to be preferentially selected. Products containing added sugars or ultra-refined selections are to be limited.
As for protein, higher intake of red meat and processed meat products has consistently been associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, a protein dominant diet plan may hamper the goals of dietary guidelines – increasing the intake of whole-grain products, fruit and vegetables, and dietary fiber. The development of renal disease on a high-protein plan is likewise of concern.
The quality of fats (selecting mono-unsaturated rather than saturated or trans) and quantities consumed must also be considered.
There is a high certainty from the evidence that type 2 diabetes is preventable by maintaining an optimal weight with a dietary pattern consistent with the current recommendations in terms of quality of fat, fiber intake, increased use of whole grain products, fruit, and vegetables, and increasing physical activity. This optimal plan is moderate in healthy fat, low in saturated fat, rich in fiber, whole grains, fruit and vegetables.
As a registered dietitian and certified nutritionist in Long Island, I have years of experience individualizing and personalizing a healthy dietary pattern to prevent or manage diabetes.