What Foods to Eat to Reverse Diabetes

Ask the experts

I've just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and it was a big wake-up call. I want to avoid medications and try to handle this with lifestyle changes. What can I do to reverse this? Is there a diabetes diet?

Doctor’s Response

Not all people with diabetes need drug therapy. A healthy eating plan and exercise alone can be enough if the person makes significant lifestyle changes. This health condition can be prevented by following a low glycemic load diet (basically, a diet low in sugars), staying physically active, and getting regular medical screenings.

If you have this type of diabetes the foods you eat should have a low glycemic load (index) (foods higher in fiber, protein or fats) like vegetables and good quality protein such as fish, chicken, beans, and lentils. From that base, other types of nutritious foods like fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and nuts should be added.

Foods with a high glycemic index (foods that raise blood sugar too quickly) are foods to avoid, such as processed foods, high in carbohydrates, sugars, or animal fat. Examples of foods to avoid include:

  • Deserts
  • Sweets
  • Pastries
  • Breads
  • Chips
  • Crackers
  • Pasta

A good rule of thumb is to avoid white foods (except for cauliflower!).

Can exercise help manage type 2 diabetes?

Exercise is very important if you have this health condition. Exercise makes cells more insulin sensitive, pulling glucose out of the blood. This brings down blood sugar, and more importantly, gives you better energy because the glucose is being transferred to the cells. Any type of exercise will do this, but extra benefit is gained when the activity helps build muscle, such as weight training or using resistance bands. The benefits of exercise on blood sugar last about 48-72 hours, so it is important for you to be physically active almost every day.

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Reviewed on 5/11/2018
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