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Preventing type 2 diabetes with diet

How diet can affect type 2 diabetes

1 in 2 Australians are affected by chronic disease1. For an in depth look at the prevalence of chronic disease in Australia and how Aussies are affected. See more here.

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Type 2 diabetes is a condition which affects your blood sugar levels. It is caused by a number of underlying factors, some of which are out of your control, like where you live or your family history. But there are other risk factors that you can do something about.

Maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle is a great way to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 58 percent of cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by exercise and healthy eating.

If you’re at a higher risk of developing the condition, or would like to better manage your symptoms if already affected, here are some diet tips to consider.

Foods to include in your diet

While it may seem daunting at first, the diet of a type 2 diabetic shouldn’t be vastly different to that of someone who doesn’t have the condition. While it’s always important to seek diet advice from your GP first, the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends eating all five food groups: lean meats and fish, some grains and dairy, healthy fats that include avocado, some oils, seeds and nuts, and a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables. However it’s important to note that consumption of carbohydrates should be monitored, as some carbs tend to cause higher blood glucose levels after eating. The best approach is to eat moderate amounts of high fibre, slow-release carbohydrates.

Foods to avoid

The good news is that there aren’t any food groups that need to be completely eliminated from your diet. However you will need to limit sugary foods, saturated fats and carbohydrates. This can be managed by choosing lean meats, avoiding butter and cream, and limiting pastries, biscuits and cakes to special occasions. It’s also best to avoid fried takeaway foods, like battered fish and chips, and choose a grilled version instead.

Eating meals regularly throughout the day

Eating regularly is an important part of managing diabetes. Therefore it’s important for those with the condition to avoid skipping meals during the day, as this could cause blood sugar levels to rise. Diabetes Australia also recommends that if you’re taking insulin or diabetes tablets, then you may also need to snack in between meals.

The ‘Low Carb High Fat’ (LCHF) diet

There have been numerous studies recently, claiming LCHF diets to be the most effective way to manage type 2 diabetes symptoms. For example, a recent study by CSIRO found that participants who followed a low carb, high protein and unsaturated fat diet, supplemented by exercise, experienced greater improvements to their symptoms than those following a high carb, low fat diet. Not only did patients record fewer blood glucose spikes and dips, but were also able to reduce their medication as a result, with some discontinuing their medication entirely.

But it’s important to remember, everyone is different, and one diet will not work for all. If you’re considering changing up your diet to reduce your risk or symptoms of type 2 diabetes, it’s important to consult your GP who will be able to provide a personalised eating plan that will be most suitable for you.

For more information on how to better manage type 2 diabetes, check out Diabetes Australia.

1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. www.aihw.gov.au/chronic-diseases/

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