According to figures from Diabetes UK, 3.9 million people are currently living with a diagnosis of diabetes. In addition, the charity says that there are almost a million more people living with type 2 diabetes who don’t know they have it because they haven’t been diagnosed yet, bringing the total number up to more than 4.8 million.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes lead to excess sugar (glucose) in your blood which can lead to serious health problems. Over a long period, high glucose levels in your blood can seriously damage your heart, your eyes, your feet, and your kidneys. We’ve also seen the link between diabetes and coronavirus. Eventually, complications caused by diabetes can be disabling or even life-threatening.
The good news is that if you are at risk of diabetes, or you have already been diagnosed with the condition, you can treat and manage it effectively.
One way is by adapting your diet so it becomes healthier. To help you, here are ten foods that can help to reduce your diabetes risk.
Eggs are good for you because they keep you feeling full for a long period and can also reduce your heart disease risk in several ways.
Eggs decrease inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity, and increase your ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels. In one study, people with type 2 diabetes who consumed two eggs daily as part of a high-protein diet had improvements in cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Make sure you eat the whole egg, as the benefits of eggs are primarily due to nutrients found in the yolk rather than the white.
2. Wholegrain starchy foods
Starchy foods are good for you but choose the ones with a low glycaemic index (GI) that affect blood glucose levels more slowly. These include:
- Wholegrain bread (rather than white bread)
- Wholewheat pasta
- Basmati, brown or wild rice.
These choices also have more fibre, which helps to keep your digestive system working well.
3. Fatty fish
Fatty fish, including salmon, herring, anchovies, and sardines, is one of the healthiest foods you can choose. They are great sources of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which have major benefits for heart health.
Getting enough of these fats on a regular basis is especially important for diabetics, who have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. And, several observational studies have suggested that people who eat fatty fish regularly have a lower risk of heart failure and are less likely to die from heart disease.
4. Leafy green vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are full of nutrition, low in calories, and low in digestible carbs which raise your blood sugar levels.
Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are good sources of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C. They also contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which protect your eyes from macular degeneration and cataracts, which are common diabetes complications.
You may be wondering if fruit is good for diabetics or people at risk of diabetes because of its sugar content. The answer is that yes, fruit is good for you, as the natural sugar in fruit is different to the ‘free sugars’ found in biscuits, cakes, and chocolate.
Fruit is naturally low in calories and full of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Fresh, frozen, dried, and canned – they all count, but try to avoid fruit juices and smoothies as they don’t have as much fibre.
6. Plant-based proteins
Even if you’re not a vegan or vegetarian, experts recommend that you supplement your diet with plant-based proteins such as beans, nuts, seeds, or tofu.
Eating these types of proteins mean you get nutrients and fibre that aren’t in animal products. We’ll talk about nuts in more detail in a moment, but a great seed to choose is…
7. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are a great choice if you have diabetes. This is because they are extremely high in fibre, yet low in digestible carbs.
The viscous fibre in chia seeds can actually lower your blood sugar levels by slowing down the rate at which food moves through your gut and is absorbed. In addition, fibre reduces hunger and makes you feel full, and can decrease the amount of calories you absorb from other foods eaten at the same meal.
8. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has many health benefits. It has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and lower fasting blood sugar levels. It may also reduce blood sugar response by as much as 20% when consumed with meals containing carbs.
Apple cider vinegar may also slow stomach emptying and keep you feeling full.
Consider mixing one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar mixed in a glass of water each day. Or, soak a bowl of oats overnight in warm water and a little apple cider vinegar, then add yogurt and fruit for a great breakfast.
All nuts contain fibre and are low in digestible carbs, although some have more than others. Brazil nuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts are particularly low in digestible carbs.
Research on a variety of different nuts has shown that regular consumption may reduce inflammation and lower blood sugar, HbA1c, and LDL levels.
One study found that people with diabetes who included 30 grams of walnuts in their daily diet for one year lost weight, had improvements in body composition and experienced a significant reduction in insulin levels.
When you drink a glass of your favourite drink, you may get more calories, sugar, salt, or fat than you think. So, replacing your fizzy drink with water (or unsweetened tea or coffee) can bring health benefits.
Choose unflavoured water rather than chocolate or traditional fizzy drinks.
How we can help you get life insurance or Critical Illness cover even if you have diabetes
Are you one of the 3.9 million people in the UK who have been diagnosed with diabetes? Have you been told by your GP that you are pre-diabetic, and at risk of developing type 2 diabetes? Or are you at risk of developing diabetes because of your weight or lifestyle?
If so, one of your concerns may be that you won’t be eligible for life insurance of Critical Illness cover.
A common misconception we hear is that diabetes means you won’t be able to take out the cover you need to protect your partner and family should the worst happen. This is simply not the case.
We’re a specialist broker and we work closely with many of the UK’s leading insurers. That means that we can help anyone with diabetes, or who is at risk, to get the protection you need.
This may be true even if you have been turned down for cover in the past.
When we approach an insurer, they will need plenty of information from you, such as when you were diagnosed and what medication you are taking. You may also pay a slightly higher premium for the cover you need based on this perceived additional risk.
However, it is possible to give your family the peace of mind that there is financial support in place if the worst should happen. Get in touch to find out how we can help you, or get a diabetes life insurance or diabetes Critical Illness cover quote today.
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