- There is no ideal one-size-fits-all diet for diabetic patients. Experts suggest individuals benefit more from personalized nutrition plans, taking into account personal circumstances and conditions.
- Managing weight is critical in dealing with diabetes. Excess weight can increase insulin resistance, raise blood sugar levels and increase risks of heart disease.
- General dietary recommendations for diabetes management includes a focus on non-starchy vegetables, reduced added sugars and refined grains, preference for whole, unprocessed foods, replacing sugary drinks with water, and substituting saturated fats with unsaturated fats.
- Medical nutritional therapy for adults with type 2 diabetes holds potential to reduce hemoglobin A1c levels, a measure of long-term blood sugar control, possibly even more effectively than medication.
- The American Diabetes Association endorses a custom-tailored diet approach for individuals with diabetes, that includes regular assessments of nutritional status, especially during significant life and health changes.
Deciding on which specific diet is beneficial for people suffering from diabetes can be complex. Experts from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggest that each patient with diabetes would benefit more from having their own individualized nutrition plan, as there is no one-size-fits-all diet.
A Personalized Approach to the Diabetic Diet
The concept of an “ideal” diet that specifies certain proportions of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats isn’t applicable. Every combination of various food or food groups can be acceptable for managing diabetes and pre-diabetes, as per the aforementioned report.
“‘What can I eat?’ is the frequent question posed by people diagnosed with diabetes and pre-diabetes,” states Dr. William Cefalu, a leading scientific, medical, and mission officer at ADA. “This recent consensus report echoes the ADA’s ongoing commitment to guidelines based on scientific evidence that are practical and considerate of individuals’ unique circumstances.”
Managing Obesity in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
Bearing excess weight exacerbates insulin resistance, raises blood sugar levels, amplifies microvascular disease complications, and augments risk factors for heart disease, especially in patients with type 1 diabetes. Consequently, weight management is a crucial aspect of care for those diagnosed with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes who are overweight or obese.
Nutritional Guidelines for Diabetics
General recommendations for nutritional plans include focusing on non-starchy vegetables, reducing added sugars and refined grains, preferring whole, unprocessed foods, substituting sugary drinks with water, and trading saturated fats for unsaturated ones.
Studies indicate that medical nutritional therapy for adults with type 2 diabetes could potentially reduce hemoglobin A1c levels, a measure of long-term blood sugar control, comparable, or even superior to effects seen with medication use.
Expert Panel and the New Guidelines
An expert panel encompassing 14 individuals compiled these recommendations after reviewing more than 600 studies conducted between 2014 and 2018. The report was published online in the academic journal Diabetes Care.
“The panel covers an array of experts who are incredibly informed about a range of eating patterns, including vegan, vegetarian, and low-carb,” Cefalu noted.
Variability and Individuality in Diabetes Management
“As indicated by the latest evidence, there cannot be a single nutrition plan for every person with diabetes due to the broad variability of diabetes for each individual, as well as other life factors such as cultural backgrounds, personal preferences, other health conditions, availability of healthy foods, and socioeconomic status,” Cefalu explains.
“The ADA staunchly endorses a custom-tailored approach that includes consistent evaluation of nutritional status for people living with diabetes. It is particularly important to reconsider a patient’s nutritional plan during significant life and health changes,” added Cefalu.
For further information, visit the American Academy of Family Physicians page on diabetes and nutrition.