Diabetes: 5 important nutrients that can lower diabetes risk

By, New Delhi
Feb 13, 2023 11:46 AM IST

A recent study linked Vitamin D supplementation with lowered risk of diabetes. From Omega-3 fatty acids, Selenium to Chromium, here are nutrients that can reduce your diabetes risk.

What you eat can have a significant impact on your overall health and the risk of getting certain diseases. Nutritional deficiencies are considered one of the main culprits behind many diseases be it anaemia or osteoporosis. Recently a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine by researchers from the Tufts Medical Center in Massachusetts found that supplementing with Vitamin D might slightly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes for people with prediabetes. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body either doesn't produce enough insulin or resists insulin. This can cause a blood sugar imbalance in the body and the excess sugar can start harming our internal processes. Apart from Vitamin D, there are many other nutrients that can help prevent diabetes from Omega-3 fatty acids, Selenium to Chromium. (Also read: Diabetes: 6 ways pulses can help prevent blood sugar spikes)

Glucometers are an important tool to monitor your blood sugar levels.(Pexels)
Glucometers are an important tool to monitor your blood sugar levels.(Pexels)

"Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disorder which can be managed well by making healthy choices for food and being more active. Inflammation is one of the major causes of diabetes and the right combination of the foods that we consume have the power to reduce this inflammation and heal the body. The variety of foods that we consume contain a plethora of nutrients and these have the power to make a positive change in the condition and often reverse diabetes in the initial stages," says Avantii Deshpaande, Gut Health Expert and Nutritionist.

Avantii suggests 5 important nutrients that can help cut diabetes risk:

1. Vitamin D

The role of Vitamin D in the prevention of diabetes has sparked widespread interest in the recent times. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a decreased insulin release, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes as noted in several studies and a supplementation of vitamin D restores insulin secretion. The reason for this is that Vitamin D is required for the synthesis of calcium and insulin secretion is calcium-dependent process. Hence Vitamin D deficiency will affect this pathway and reduce the insulin production.

Limited Vitamin D is present in food sources; egg yolks, fatty fish, organ meats and certain types of mushrooms are known to have Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin. The D2 vitamin present under the skin is converted to active D3. Many people have insufficient levels because they live in places where the sunlight is limited in winter or because they have limited sun exposure due to being inside much of the time.

It's best to get your Vitamin D levels tested once in six months and supplement if needed to maintain an optimum level for better management of diabetes.

2. Fibre

'Eat more fiber'. As a nutritionist we insist on this very often. For people with diabetes, fibre is very powerful. Not only does it manage your weight but also has a beneficial impact on your blood glucose levels. There are two types of fibre: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fibre found in bran, vegetables and whole grains keeps the digestive tract running smoothly. Soluble fibre found in oatmeal, nuts, seeds, beans lentils and peas help to lower your cholesterol levels and improve the blood glucose control.

Make it a point to include 5 serves of fruits and vegetables in the diet and consume whole grain diet reducing the use of refined flour and junk food.

3. Omega 3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for the normal growth and development and several studies have reported that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the plasma triglycerides and increase the HDL cholesterol.

Diabetes is caused due to inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and reduce the oxidative stress.

Omega-3 fatty acids occur as DHA and EPA are found in plant and animal sources. In the non-veg sources they are present in marine fish like sardines, mackerel, salmon, tuna, herring etc and in the vegetarian foods, they are found in seeds like flax, pumpkin, melon seeds and also in nuts like almonds and walnuts.

Make it a point to include fish in the diet at least 2 times a week and 1-2 tbsp of seeds and 30 g of nuts in the diet every day.

4. Selenium

Selenium is an antioxidant nutrient and protects the pancreatic islets from oxidation and improves its function. A study which administered 200 micrograms of selenium taken on an empty stomach for 6 months by 75 diabetics along with a healthy diet showed a decrease in the blood sugar, HBA1C, cholesterol and LDL and increase in the good HDL cholesterol.

Beans, lentils, fish, Brazil nuts, fortified cereals and whole wheat are some of the sources of selenium in food. A Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits and vegetables and whole grains seems to be the best to manage diabetes.

5. Chromium

Chromium is an essential mineral that enhances insulin activity, Studies have shown that chromium is deficient in people with type 2 diabetes. Chromium Supplements enhance the action of insulin and lower some of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease particularly in overweight individuals. Chromium is present in many foods including meats, grain products, fruits, vegetables, nuts, spices, brewer's yeast and wine. Make it a point to include these foods in the diet for prevention of diabetes.

Managing type 2 diabetes is easier if the positive lifestyle changes are done along with being more active.

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