Let's Eat

Recipe for lower blood sugar

It is possible to bring down glucose levels if you eat the right foods


The right diet can put Type 2 diabetes (T2D) into remission and reverse dangerously high blood sugar. Food for thought if you’re teetering on the edge of a diabetic diagnosis — especially as the disease can put you at higher risk of succumbing to Covid-19.

Dr Jackie Rose, GP and nutritionist and co-author (with cousin Judi Rose) of To Life, Healthy Jewish Food, explains that diabetes is related not just to genetics but to diet and lifestyle. “The simplest way to reduce your risk … is to eat as though you have diabetes, though less strictly.” And it’s not only those with high blood sugar levels who’ll benefit through changing their diet: “Repeated blood sugar spikes can reduce your immunity, so this is relevant to everyone” says Judi Rose.

“Many of my blood sugar clients brought their levels under control within weeks and came off their medications,” says nutritionist Dr Michelle Braude who advises avoiding white carbs including challah, bagels and highly processed breakfast cereals. “But don’t cut out other carbohydrates as you need them for fibre and B vitamins. They’re also important to help maintain steady blood sugar levels and a healthy gut microbiome. Choose unrefined sources like sweet potatoes, barley or quinoa.”

Nutritionist Laura Southern says the quality of your carbs is key. “Switch to dark, rye bread made from 100 per cent rye flour that is higher in fibre and will break down slowly in your body and not give you a blood sugar spike.” She too points patients towards brown or wild rice, quinoa and legumes, which will also keep you feeling full. “You don’t want that evening binge after denying yourself all day — that’s really damaging.”

Diabetes specialist nutritionist, Heather Daniels says the getting right proportions on your plate quantity is key. “As a rough guide, only a quarter of your cooked meal should be carbohydrate.” She helps patients identify ways they can improve their diet. “I don’t ask them to do it all at once — I may ask them to swap white to seeded bread, or to eat more fruit. And we look at portion sizes.”

All the experts advise increasing veggies and fruits. “Diabetes UK recommend the portion size of fruit is what’s important. Eat any fruits, just not too much, and the greater variety the better —each one has different vitamins and minerals. As a rough guide, a handful is a portion” says Daniels.

Fruit juice gets a unanimous thumbs down. “It gives you a massive sugar rush. Or even smoothies — which can be four or five portions of fruit consumed without chewing,” says Daniels, who also advises caution with dried fruits. “You can end up eating too many — if eating dried apricots, think of how many fresh ones you would consume.”

All of the experts say you should keep proteins lean. “Eat less red and processed meats,” says Dr Braude. “Red meat is high in saturated fat, which can be a risk factor for pre-diabetes. It can also contribute to weight gain — another risk factor. There’s a stronger link between saturated fat and T2D than with sugar.” She advises cutting out red meat entirely and replacing it with legumes (which provide fibre and nutrients) and with fish, poultry, eggs and dairy, which are better for weight reduction or healthy weight maintenance. “Most people don’t eat enough dairy” says Heather Daniels, who recommends a small pot of yoghurt with berries as a healthy snack.

While we’re on snacks — the advice is to keep them in check. Southern prefers clients not to graze: “It’s important to put a clear meal structure in place — three meals a day with no snacks.” Dr Braude does permit sensible snacking. “If you’re craving something sweet then try a couple of squares of 70% dark chocolate or a date stuffed with unsweetened nut butter.”

Daniels suggests combining a small amount of carbohydrate with a little protein — vegetables with low fat hummus or a piece of fruit with some nuts. Judi Rose warns that rice cakes can spike your blood sugar and suggests swapping to oat cakes which contain fibre. She also recommends replacing matzah meal with fine oats when possible — when making kugel or fish balls for example.

Fats are not ruled out entirely. Healthy fats like olive oil, hummus, nuts and seeds are all recommended, as is drinking plenty of water.

Finally, keep your stress levels down — yoga and meditation are great to help with this — and make regular movement part of your daily life.

“It’s all about getting sugar in range. Increased movement gives it somewhere to go as you use up more energy. You don’t need to rush to the gym — I walk when I’m on the phone, unload the dishwasher plate by plate, do star jumps while waiting for the kettle to boil and swing my legs while I’m on Zoom calls,”says Laura Southern.

Of course, you should always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet or other health-related programme.


Dr Michelle Braude: / Instagram: thefoodeffectdr; Laura Southern: / Instagram: londonfoodtherapy ; Heather Daniels: ; Judi Rose:


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