Type 2 Diabetes Diet

  • Medical Author:
    Erica Oberg, ND, MPH

    Dr. Erica Oberg, ND, MPH, received a BA in anthropology from the University of Colorado, her doctorate of naturopathic medicine (ND) from Bastyr University, and a masters of public health (MPH) in health services research from the University of Washington. She completed her residency at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health in ambulatory primary care and fellowship training at the Health Promotion Research Center at the University of Washington.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Oral Medications for Type 2 Diabetes

Currently, there are nine drug classes of oral diabetes medications approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

  1. Sulfonylureas, for example, glimepiride (Amaryl) and glipizide (Glucotrol, Glucotrol XL) Meglitinides, for example, nateglinide (Starlix) and repaglinide (Prandin)
  2. Thiazolidinediones, for example, pioglitazone (Actos)
  3. DPP-4 inhibitors, for example, sitagliptin (Januvia) and linagliptin (Tradjenta)

Type 2 diabetes diet definition and facts

  • Type 2 diabetes involves problems getting enough glucose into the cells. When the sugar can't get where it is supposed to be, it leads to elevated blood sugar levels in the bloodstream which can lead to complications such as kidney, nerve, and eye damage, and cardiovascular disease.
  • Foods to eat for a type 2 diabetic diet include complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, beans, and lentils. Foods to avoid include simple carbohydrates, which are processed, such as sugar, pasta, white bread, flour, and cookies, pastries.
  • Foods with a low glycemic load (index) only cause a modest rise in blood sugar and are better choices for people with diabetes. Good glycemic control can help in preventing long-term complications of type 2 diabetes.
  • Fats don't have much of a direct effect on blood sugar but they can be useful in slowing the absorption of carbohydrates.
  • Protein provides steady energy with little effect on blood sugar. It keeps blood sugar stable, and can help with sugar cravings and feeling full after eating. Protein-packed foods to eat include beans, legumes, eggs, seafood, dairy, peas, tofu, and lean meats and poultry.
  • Five diabetes "superfoods" to eat include chia seeds, wild salmon, white balsamic vinegar, cinnamon, and lentils.
  • Healthy diabetes meal plans include plenty of vegetables, and limited processed sugars and red meat.
  • Diet recommendations for people with type 2 diabetes include a vegetarian or vegan diet, the American Diabetes Association diet (which also emphasizes exercise), the Paleo Diet, and the Mediterranean diet.
  • Guidelines on what to eat for people with type 2 diabetes include eating low glycemic load carbohydrates, primarily from vegetables, and consuming fats and proteins mostly from plant sources.
  • What to not to eat if you have type 2 diabetes: sodas (regular and diet), refined sugars, processed carbohydrates, trans fats, high-fat animal products, high-fat dairy products, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and any highly processed foods.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes occurs over time, and involves problems getting enough sugar (glucose) into the cells of the body. (The cells use the sugar for fuel/energy.)

  • Sugar (glucose) is the preferred fuel for muscle and brain cells, but it requires insulin to transport it into cells for use.
  • When insulin levels are low, and the sugar can't get into the cells where it is supposed to be, it leads to elevated blood sugar levels.
  • Over time, the cells develop resistance to insulin (insulin resistance), which then requires the pancreas to make more and more insulin to move sugar into the cells; however, more sugar is still left in the blood.
  • The pancreas eventually "wears out," and can no longer secrete enough insulin to move the sugar into the cells for energy.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/29/2016

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