Diet for Type 2 Diabetes

Having the right diet for type 2 diabetes could make the difference between coming off medications altogether - or at the very least reducing them considerably - or going on to need insulin injections.

Diabetes, perhaps more than any other disease, is strongly associated with our Western culture and diet. You may not be surprised to know that it's very uncommon in cultures consuming a more "primitive" diet.

However, as people switch from their native diets to more commercial foods, their rate of diabetes increases, eventually reaching the same proportions seen in Western societies.


Are There Foods That Make Diabetes More Likely?

Most people believe that eating too much sugar and sugary foods causes diabetes in the long run, and they're not entirely wrong. However, the kind of foods that have the greatest effect on your blood sugar are not always what you might expect.

For example, consuming the wrong type of fats can have a huge impact on how the cells respond to insulin.

saturated fats are found in meat and dairy products

Saturated fats, as in red meats, butter, full-fat dairy products and so on, as well as hydrogenated fats, as in margarines and fat shortenings, reduce membrane fluidity, which in turn prevent insulin from binding to receptors on the cell membrane thus reducing insulin action.

But not all fats are bad. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, appear to improve insulin action.

Several studies show that frequent consumption of a small amount of omega-3 oils protects against the development of type 2 diabetes, as well as insulin resistance.

First important step in your diet for type 2 diabetes:

Reduce saturated fats and increase consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, which you can find in fatty fish such as wild salmon, sardines, anchovies, etc.


The Role of Fiber in the Diet for Type 2 Diabetes

whole grain bread

A high-fiber diet has been shown to relieve everything from constipation to heart disease and I've already talked extensively on the subject in relation to these conditions.

But it's worth mentioning here why fiber is so important in the diet for type 2 diabetes.

Both types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, play a role in stabilizing blood sugar.

When taken with water before meals, soluble fiber binds to water in the stomach and forms a gelatinous mass that makes you feel full. As a result, you are less likely to overeat, hence helping you reduce weight.

Fiber makes your stomach release food more slowly and causes the rest of your digestive tract to release nutrients into your system gradually.

However, the benefits of fiber go well beyond this mechanical effect. Fiber supplements and foods high in fiber enhance blood sugar control and insulin effects and actually reduce the number of calories the body absorbs.

In some of the clinical studies demonstrating weight loss, fiber supplements reduced the number of calories absorbed by 30 to 180 calories per day. This reduction in calories may not seem like much, but over the course of a year it would add up to 3 to 18 pounds.

Weight-loss studies using guar gum, a water soluble fiber obtained from the Indian cluster bean, have produced the most impressive results.

In one study, nine women weighing between 160 and 242 pounds were given 10 g. of guar gum immediately before lunch and dinner, without changing their eating habits. After 2 months, the women reported an average weight loss of 9.4 pounds - over 1 pound per week. Their cholesterol and triglyceride levels also dropped. A person can lose 50 to 100% more weight by supplementing his or her diet with fiber than by simply restricting calories.

Other types of fiber that can be used are oat bran, pectin and psyllium husk.

Soluble fiber seems also to increase cells' sensitivity to insulin, so more sugar can move from the blood into the cells that need it.

In studies conducted by Dr. James Anderson, professor of internal medicine in the department of endocrinology and molecular medicine at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, people with type 2 diabetes who ate a high-fiber (and high-carbohydrate) diet were able to improve their blood sugar control by an average of 95%. People with type 1 diabetes on the same diet also benefited showing a 30% improvement.

Also insoluble fiber has been shown to play a role in diabetes prevention. It's the type of fiber found in whole grain foods, vegetables such as green beans and dark leafy vegetables, fruit skins and root vegetable skins, seeds and nuts.

In a study conducted at Harvard University, consuming about 10 g. of cereal fiber per day (from foods such as whole grain breads, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta), lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes by 36%.

Two great sources of fiber are Brussels sprouts and beans. A half-cup serving of Brussels sprouts contains 4 g. of fiber, with 2 g. of soluble fiber - and that's more fiber than you'll get in a cup of pasta. A half-cup kidney beans contains nearly 7 g. of fiber, almost 3 g. of it soluble.

Read more about the benefits of fiber in whole grains...

Second step in your healing diet for type 2 diabetes is to include :

  • 2 to 4 servings of fruit and 3 to 5 servings of vegetables each day.

(One serving is one medium piece of fruit; 1/2 cup of fruit or vegetable juice; 1/2 cup of chopped fruit or cooked vegetables; or 1 cup of leafy vegetables.

  • 6 to 11 servings of breads, cereals, pasta and rice per day making sure they're whole grain.

(One serving is 1/2 cup cooked grain, e.g. oatmeal or pasta; 1 ounce of dry cereal, or 1 slice of bread)


Choosing the Right Carbohydrates

Read the article Slow Carbs vs. Fast Carbs

A common advice you hear for people with diabetes is to cut down on carbohydrates.

While it's true that all carbohydrates raise blood sugar, some carbs, such as white potatoes and white bread, raise it much higher and faster than others, like sweet potatoes and barley.

Higher peaks mean steeper drops - your blood sugar may sink lower than before you ate and that's when energy stalls and hunger strikes again.

It's not just low blood sugar but also rapidly falling blood sugar that triggers a powerful hunger signal.

Several studies show that meals that raise blood sugar quickly resulted in people feeling hungrier before the next meal.

For example, in  a study of 65 women, those whose meals were designed to keep blood sugar stable felt less intense hunger and less desire to eat, especially in the afternoon.

These kinds of meals increase levels of leptin, a hormone that decreases hunger, helps burn fat and lowers levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger.

The women who ate blood sugar-boosting meals reported that they felt hungrier sooner. In many studies, people who ate such meals also ate more at the next meal.

One way to help you choose the right carbohydrates is to plan your meals using a system called the Glycemic Index (GI). This system ranks carbs according to their effects on your insulin-regulating system.

Read more about it by clicking on the link above.

Third step in your diet for type 2 diabetes:

Choose the right carbohydrates that provide you with the glucose your body needs but don't cause a sudden rise in blood sugar. Read the Glycemic Index section.


The three steps mentioned in this article on the healing diet for type 2 diabetes are of the utmost importance in helping you get control over your blood sugar and even reverse diabetes.

Read more information on how eating the right type of fat can have a huge effect on the reversing of this condition by clicking on NEXT or go back to the Treatment of Diabetes main page to select another article.


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