Diet is important to maintain health for everyone. However, amongst diabetics, choosing a sustainable and healthy diet is essential.

Diet is one of the most important ways of controlling diabetes, and combined with appropriate exercise and medication can offer a fast route to keeping blood glucose stable.

A well-balanced vegetarian diet, with an emphasis on low fat, high fibres, and high carbohydrates can be particularly suitable for diabetic patients.

I am diabetic, why eat well?

Genetic pre-conditioning aside, obesity is the major risk factor for type 2 diabetics. Diets that are high in fat and a lifestyle lacking in exercise, have lead to obesity spreading like wildfire across the Western world. In the USA, Australia and England obesity is a major and developing problem.

Excess abdominal fat lessens bodily ability to utilise insulin, leaving sugar to build up in the bloodstream.

A recent study by the Diabetes Prevention Program found that diets with low-fat and low-calories, when combined with moderate exercise, lead to significantly reduced risks of diabetes with a figure of over 50 per cent.

By contrast, the popular diabetes drug metformin increased insulin sensitivity by just over 30 per cent.

The importance of diet is obvious for diabetics.

I am diabetic, why go vegetarian?

Vegetarianism excludes high-calorie foods and animal products laden with saturated fats. It instead concentrates on foods that give necessary minerals and vitamins that help give diabetics a better chance of blood glucose control.

These include whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.

Vegetarian diets are rich in fibre, which has numerous benefits. When a diabetic eats a fibre-rich meal, the desire for further food disappears.

Fibre also plays a protective role for pre-diabetics, and can lead to lower daily requirements of insulin amongst type 1 diabetics.

Fibre is well known as being important in the improving blood sugar control, lowering cholesterol levels and providing folate, thereby reducing the risk of complications like heart disease

Considerable research is available as evidence for the role of fibre in diabetes.

Recent nutritional research suggests that diabetics should partake in as many as nine servings in the vegetable and fruit group, and up to six servings of whole grains for optimum benefit.

Will a gradual change to vegetarianism benefit me as a diabetic?

Absolutely. In most cases it is important to take things at your own pace.

No-one can dictate your diet apart from yourself, and it will have to adapt to suit your personal tastes.

Thankfully, the range of foods and recipes are enormous.

Learning how to cook healthily takes time, but beyond this your body will need time to adjust to the difference in food.

There are numerous Internet resources dedicated to introducing dietary changes.

Are diabetic vegetarian recipes available online?

There are many Internet recipe resources available for the diabetic, including vegetarian recipes. Diabetics should consult their nutritionist or healthcare team before following any recipes.

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