Type 2 Diabetes: What You Need to Know for Your Diet

When it comes to managing type 2 diabetes, I believe that the quality of the food that you eat matters as much if not more than the quantity.

Although most people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, many are not. That means simply reducing the number of calories will not be enough to manage your diabetes and also promote good health.

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There are only three categories of foods: carbohydrates ("carbs"), fats, and proteins. Every food is made up of some combination of just those three macronutrients. There are also vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, which are also important for vital functions, but they are not foods — they do not provide energy. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are all necessary for the body to function properly. Any diet that tells you to totally avoid one of these three macronutrients cannot be healthy.

Here is what you need to eat to manage your type 2 diabetes. You may notice that what I recommend is very similar to the popular Mediterranean style diet.

Elite Carbohydrates

Contrary what you may have read, carbohydrates are actually good for people with type 2 diabetes — healthy carbohydrates, that is. These healthy or elite carbs not only help promote weight loss, they can also help lower the risk of heart disease and help you manage your diabetes. High-quality carbohydrates — the elite Carbs — are fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, all of which provide abundant amounts of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber, with little or no fat. What was called roughage in the past is known as fiber now, and it may be a patient with type 2 diabetes' best diet secret. Fiber , which occurs naturally only in plant-based foods, lowers your insulin response to food, helps lower your blood sugar, causes you to feel full sooner, and helps with your colon health as well.

Nuts are included, but only a handful a day. Nuts are chock full of fiber, healthy fat and protein and have been shown to improve insulin's function. Unfortunately they are full of calories so they need to be limited somewhat. Almonds and walnuts are especially good.

Elite Fats

Our bodies need certain high-quality fats to maintain the structure of cell membranes, regulate blood pressure, maintain the immune system, and other important functions.

Monounsaturated fats, found primarily in olive oil and canola oil, are among the healthiest fats. Monounsaturated fats seem to help reduce insulin resistance, making it especially valuable for managing type 2 diabetes. It also improves blood flow through the arteries, a sign that it may help fight atherosclerosis.

Polyunsaturated fats in the form of Omega-3 fatty acids are also important. Omega-3 fatty acids, the most beneficial of the fats, are found in many kinds of fish, shellfish, canola oil, soybeans, wheat germ, flaxseed, and walnuts. It is thought that they may help prevent heart attack, hypertension, and some forms of cancer, including breast cancer.

Trans fatty acids commonly found in margarine, cookies, and pastries are a man-made invention and are just plain dangerous. Look for the tell-tale signs of trans fatty acids in the package ingredients such as "partially hydrogenated oils" which is the fancy word for fats that have been chemically altered. And even foods marked "0" trans fats may have some partially hydrogenated oils which could be harmful if you ate many serving sizes.

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