Vitamins and minerals are significant contributors to the growth of several cells in the body and perform other core functions. Patients with diabetes have a lot to benefit from essential vitamins, including blood glucose levels regulation and a boost in immunity. These vitamins are readily available in natural sources like animal and plant foods, but you can also get a good dose of them from supplements.

However, many patients are clueless about getting more vitamins into their diet or even their sources. Moreover, many seem to know little about the right amount of vitamins they should take daily. On the one hand, taking too much of certain vitamins can lead to health complications. On the other hand, deficiency of some vitamins can lead to drastic effects in other people.

Your body produces specific vitamins in limited quantities while failing to produce other essential ones. Hence, the need for you to get vitamins from external sources like vegetables, fruits, or supplements. People living with diabetes are known to have specific diets tailored to their needs to help them better manage their condition. However, care needs to be taken when opting for supplements as a source of vitamins, especially for people on medication for illnesses like diabetes.

This guide discusses the essential vitamins your body needs, where to find them, how to use them, and other valuable information critical to healthy living.

Shining the Spotlight on Vitamins: What They Are and How They Work

Vitamins are substances that aid the proper growth and cell development. While the body does produce vitamins on its own, this quantity is nowhere enough to serve our vitamin needs in most cases. Fortunately, vitamins abound in other sources, including fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products, etc.

Sometimes, the body doesn’t get enough of these vitamins. Vitamin deficiency can lead to a condition called vitamin deficiency anemia. This occurs when the body has very few healthy red blood cells than optimal.

Patients suffering from the condition tend to experience fatigue, pale skin, dizziness, etc., as some of its prevailing symptoms. This condition is common among pregnant women. More worrying is that other health issues can arise due to a lack of essential vitamins.

Categorizing Vitamins

There are 13 vitamins recognized as essentials for the body. Vitamins can dissolve in either water or fat, and the grouping of the 13 essential vitamins is rooted in this, as we’ll observe below.

Water-Soluble Vitamins 

Water-soluble vitamins exist in forms that can only be dissolved by water. They move through the body and are easily absorbed into the body tissues. However, they rarely stay long in the body; any excess exits the body as urine. Essentially, you need more water-soluble vitamins due to the inability of the body to store them.

There are nine water-soluble vitamins, including the B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12) and vitamin C.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

These types of vitamins can only function when there’s dietary fat. The four fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Your body can retain them and usually stores any excess in the liver, muscles, and fatty tissues. However, you need to take caution regarding the consumption of these vitamins, as they can quickly accumulate to toxic levels when consumed in excess.

A Closer Look at the 13 Essential Vitamins Your Body Needs

vitamins for people with diabetes

There are various sources of vitamins, including natural ones (like vegetables and fruits) and man-made supplements. As a diabetic, you should note that not all sources of vitamins are safe to consume.

Foods high in fat, sugar, and sodium are deemed unhealthy, and you should strive to avoid them. Also, carefully examine supplements before you take them by doing the due diligence of checking with your doctor.

Here are the 13 essential vitamins with details on their core functions and best sources.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A exists in two forms — provitamin A carotenoids (beta-carotene) and preformed vitamin A (retinyl, esters, retinol). This fat-soluble vitamin is essential for the growth of body cells and supports your immune system. More particularly, taking adequate amounts of this essential vitamin will help you maintain healthy skin, teeth, hair, and bones.

Figured out the early childhood carrot myth yet?

It turns out it’s not much of a myth, as the beta-carotene in carrots helps the eyes adjust to the light.

Best Sources

Foods like meat, fortified milk, poultry, shrimp, eggs, fish, etc., contain the preformed form of vitamin A. On the other hand, provitamin A exists majorly in fruits like carrots, mangoes, orange juice, and leafy green vegetables like cabbage, potatoes, spinach, etc. 

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

Vitamin C is essential for its rejuvenating properties. You get exposed to free radicals daily, majorly from air pollution and ultraviolet light. Smoking also tends to increase the presence of free radicals in the body.

Vitamin C protects the body against free radicals. Moreover, it helps wounds heal faster, boosts the body’s immune system, and aids your body in absorbing iron. This vitamin also acts as a critical oxidant in the body.

However, medical conditions like kidney disease can reduce the body’s ability to absorb this essential vitamin.

Best Sources

Vitamin C exists majorly in fruits and vegetables. Take more tomatoes, potatoes, brussels sprouts, berries, citrus fruits, melons, peppers, etc., to get a good dose of vitamin C.

Vitamin D (Calciferol)

You can get more vitamin D by simply standing in the sun. Naturally, your body produces more vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. It’s the vitamin responsible for the proper development of the bone.

This vitamin aids calcium absorption, a mineral stored in the bone. Vitamin D also plays a part in controlling low diabetes by enhancing insulin sensitivity. Namely, the insulin hormone helps the body in blood glucose control.

A study shows a link between vitamin D deficiency and insulin resistance. Its deficiency also results in rickets or osteoporosis — manifestations of weakened bones.

Best Sources

Although your body can produce this vitamin via exposure to sunlight, you can also get the “sunshine vitamin” from fortified milk, fatty fish like mackerel and tuna, egg yolk, beef liver, mushrooms, and other fortified foods like cereals.

Vitamin E (Alpha-Tocopherol)

Here’s another vitamin that works alongside vitamin C in protecting the body against free radicals. It’s a fat-soluble antioxidant that plays an essential role in maintaining red blood cells.

Other vital functions it performs include boosting the immune system, preventing Alzheimer’s disease, protecting the cell wall, and building muscle. Vitamin E also plays a vital role in improving insulin activity in the body, a plus for diabetics.

However, a lack of vitamin E can lead to a weaker immune system or/and muscle damage.

Best Sources

You can obtain this vitamin from green leafy vegetables, whole grains, salad dressings, and egg yolks. Also, it exists in vegetable oils like corn, soybean, or sunflower. Additionally, you can get more of this vitamin by consuming nuts and whole-grain products.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is tasked with the function of promoting optimal blood clotting. If you take blood thinners, you must get around consuming more vitamin K. This vitamin also contributes to bone health.

While your body can make up to 50% of the vitamin K you need, you can compensate for the rest through other sources, as we’ll see below.

Best Sources

This vitamin can be found in vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, spinach, and dairy products like milk. You can also get more vitamin K from eggs and liver.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Thiamine is an essential nutrient—especially for people with diabetes—that helps the body convert carbohydrates into energy.

Vitamin B1 plays a key role in the proper nerve function of the body. It also aids digestion and helps maintain healthy skin, hair, and muscles. In people with diabetes, vitamin B1 helps maintain blood sugar levels.

Best Sources

Eat more whole grains, cereal, brown rice, fortified bread, pork, ham, soymilk, legumes, watermelons, etc., to meet your body’s vitamin B1 needs.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Vitamin B2 helps in the conversion of food into energy. It’s essential for cell development and the growth of new cells while also playing a vital role in metabolizing fats, drugs, and steroids. Furthermore, riboflavin is a significant contributor to healthy skin while aiding better vision.

Although rare, vitamin B2 deficiency occurs in pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and sometimes in people on a vegan diet. Symptoms like hair loss, sore throat, cracked lips, and liver disorders are common in people deficient in riboflavin.

Best Sources

To get more of this vitamin, you should consume more animal products like eggs, milk and milk, and lean meat. Other sources of riboflavin include mushrooms, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, fortified cereals, yogurt, and some beverages.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Niacin works hand in hand with other B vitamins in converting food into energy. Additionally, this vitamin helps regulate cholesterol levels, a big plus for people with diabetes.

Your skin, nervous system, and digestive system also benefit from vitamin B3 as it helps boost your health. Also notable among this vitamin’s functions is that it aids cell growth and enables them to function optimally.

Best Sources

Sources of this essential vitamin include seafood, poultry, lean meats, whole grains, fortified bread, and grains. You can also get a good dose of niacin from leafy green vegetables, mushrooms, and peanut butter.

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

This water soluble vitamin performs the core function peculiar to B vitamins, helping the body convert food into usable energy. However, it performs other functions, including manufacturing steroid hormones and red blood cells, breaking down fats to release energy, and producing neurotransmitters. It also helps stabilize blood glucose levels.

Best Sources

Vitamin B5 is abundant in nature and can be found in almost all foods. More specifically, familiar sources of pantothenic acid are avocados, potatoes, seafood, beef, poultry, peanuts, whole grain, mushrooms, etc.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6 is essential for metabolizing protein and carbohydrates to supply the body with needed energy. It also plays a vital role in maintaining cognitive abilities, helps manufacture red blood cells, and aids brain development in embryos. Other core functions of pyridoxine include converting tryptophan to serotonin and niacin, as well as aiding proper nerve function.

Best Sources

Familiar sources of vitamin B6 are meat, green vegetables, non-citrus fruits, potatoes, legumes, soy products, etc.

Vitamin B7 (Biotin)

Besides helping the body synthesize glucose, vitamin B7 converts proteins, carbohydrates, and fats into energy. It’s also vital for healthy bones and hair.

Vitamin B7 deficiency is common in people with biotinidase deficiency — a rare genetic disorder that prevents the body from recycling biotin. Alcoholics and pregnant women also risk suffering from vitamin B7 deficiency.

Best Sources

You can obtain this vitamin from organ meats, egg yolks, soybeans, nuts, whole grains, green vegetables, and sweet potatoes.

Vitamin B9 (Folate, Folic Acid)

Vitamin B9 is essential in human development, especially for pregnant women. Notably, it helps prevent birth defects that might likely occur in its absence, including neural tube defects (NTDs) like spina bifida.

Moreover, this vitamin aids the production of red blood cells. It’s also responsible for DNA and RNA formation. According to a review on PubMed, folate shows promising positive signs in battling diabetes as it helps reduce homocysteine — an amino acid linked with higher diabetes risk.

Best Sources

You can obtain folate and folic acid from fortified flour, legumes, orange juice, leafy green vegetables, liver, yeast, turnip, spinach, broccoli, etc.

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Vitamin B12 is regarded as the big gun of the vitamin B family. It plays a significant role in producing DNA, RNA, and red blood cells. Also, it contributes to the development of nerve cells.

Cobalamin plays the typical role of breaking down food to release energy for the body. Other core functions of vitamin B12 include the prevention of megaloblastic anemia and the breakdown of amino and fatty acids.

Best Sources

Cobalamin is abundant in most animal products, including beef, eggs, milk, seafood, etc. As this vitamin is absent in plant foods, vegans risk its deficiency. However, they can make up for it by taking its equivalent supplements.

Amount of Vitamins Needed Based on Gender

daily vitamin values

These are the recommendations according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

VitaminRDA or AIRDA or AI
Adult MaleAdult Female
A900 mcg700 mcg
B11.2 mg1.1 mg
B21.3 mg1.1 mg
B316 mg14 mg
B55 mg5 mg
B61.3 mg1.3 mg
B730 mcg30 mcg
B9400 mcg400 mcg
B122.4 mcg2.4 mcg
C90 mg75 mg
D600 IU600 IU
E15 mg15 mg
K120 mcg90 mcg

Note: The amount required may vary due to pregnancy, age, or other health-related factors. Ensure you check with your doctor for exact details.

Final Thoughts

There you have it; a comprehensive list of all the essential vitamins your body needs. While the body can produce some vitamins like vitamin D in sufficient amounts via sunlight, you may need to make up for others by eating just the right foods. As this guide outlines, you can derive benefits like improved immune systems and balanced glucose levels from these vitamins.

As a diabetic, you need to ensure a balanced diet rich in these 13 essential vitamins. However, you should watch out for toxic concentrations of fat-soluble vitamins while at it, as this can be quite harmful. A rule of thumb is to ensure you consult your doctor or dietitian to figure out how to fit the essential vitamins into your diet.

An excellent way to fit these vitamins into your meal plan is via a digital meal planner like Klinio. This easy-to-use app suggests well-rounded meals that contain these essential vitamins in an amount that normalizes blood sugar levels. You can also monitor other key vitals like water and calorie intake, weight, physical activity, etc., on the app.

When people talk about diabetes diets, they tend to speak more about carbohydrates than any other class of the food. And that’s for good reason; carbohydrates have a lot of sugar, and eating too many carbohydrates can have terrible consequences for the blood glucose levels of people with diabetes.

The only problem with that is that people tend to leave out the importance of protein foods on things like your body weight, blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

In this article, we’ll be going through the relationship between diabetes and protein, and how people who live with diabetes can use this knowledge to live fuller lives.

What Is Protein

what is protein

Protein is one of the most important nutrients to living beings, and it’s found in every cell in our bodies and our bloodstream.

Protein is vital to the formation of our muscles and is an important building block in the formation of our bones. Protein is also a vital part of our immune system, and it is also important in the production of hormones like insulin and glucagon.

All protein is made up of 20 classes of amino acids, and each protein is classified based on the number of amino acids it has. Out of the twenty different amino acids, nine of them are considered essential because the body cannot make them on its own.

The protein for human consumption is classified based on whether it contains all nine amino acids or not. Proteins that contain all amino acids are called complete proteins and the ones that don’t are called incomplete amino acids.

For example, sources of protein like eggs, meat, fish, poultry, cheese, and milk are complete protein sources.

However, sources of protein like nuts, seeds, beans, and grains are incomplete. Most plant proteins are incomplete. The only exception to that rule is soy protein.

While high protein intake can also provide the body with a lot of energy, protein isn’t the body’s preferred energy source —instead the body prefers using energy from carbohydrates.

Instead of using protein for energy, the body mainly uses it to repair broken tissues in the body.

Since the body doesn’t use protein for energy, it doesn’t contribute to blood sugar levels the same way carbohydrates do.

This means that your dietary protein as a person with diabetes doesn’t have to differ too much from that of people without diabetes.

However, it’s also important to remember that too many calories can lead to weight gain, and thus can increase the risk of diabetic complications.

It’s also important to note that diabetics who have kidney problems may have to manage their protein intake. But more on that later.

Your Daily Protein Intake

daily protein intake

As long as you still have healthy kidneys, about thirty per cent of all your calories should be protein. About 45% to 65% of your calorie intake should come from carbohydrate sources too.

According to some healthcare professionals, it is a bit more accurate to use the standard formula of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

To do the kilogram conversion, all you need to do is divide your weight in pounds by 2.2. For instance, if you weigh 120 pounds, that is equal to 54 kilograms. Multiply that by 0.8 and you get a protein goal of 44 grams.

Of course, it’s important to confirm this with a healthcare professional before you get settled on a standard diabetic diet.

Is There Anything As Too Much Protein?

Yes, there is. If you pass the recommended limit for protein intake per body weight, you may start to experience symptoms such as problems with kidney function, high levels of calcium in your urine, a higher risk of cancer, problems with your liver, and even weight gain which could lead to obesity.

How To Choose Protein Rich Food Sources For People With Diabetes

protein rich food sources

When choosing protein-rich foods for a diabetic meal plan, the focus should be more on the additional fat and carbohydrate that the foods carry than the actual protein.

Some protein sources, for example, also have carbohydrates that can be easily converted to glucose, which may lead to a spike in blood sugar levels.

Additionally, people setting up a diabetes meal plan need to know that high-fat and high-carb diets can lead to obesity, which generally makes it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar levels.

According to the American Diabetes Association, a balanced diabetes diet should include protein from fish sources at least twice a week.

The association also argues that diabetics should avoid getting their dietary protein from red meat and processed meats like ham, bacon, and hot dogs since these food groups contain lots of saturated fat.

Instead, they argue, that people with diabetes should base their dietary protein intake on lean meats.

According to the association, people with diabetes should also space their meals and try, as much as they can, not to eat too much protein in one sitting.

This is because when the body gets protein, it extracts the one that it presently needs and makes waste with the leftover. Eating too much or not spacing one’s meal can lead to a huge chunk of one’s protein intake getting turned into waste.

So instead of having 60 g of protein with one meal, it is a lot better to spread that across 3 or 4 meals and space them properly. That way, you’ll have the complete benefits of the protein. It’s also important, the association says, to vary your sources of protein.

If you’re a fan of protein shakes, then great. But it’s also vital to get protein from other sources such as meat, fish, dairy produce, nuts, and beans.

Can Protein Help Diabetics

protein and diabetics

Many suffer under the delusion that switching to a high protein diet may help them overcome the symptoms of diabetes.

But if that works it probably only does, not because of the high protein intake, but because of the potential reduction in harmful carbs and saturated fats.

However, that’s something that could be done with just healthy eating and doesn’t require a switch to high protein diets.

Credible research has shown that increased protein intake or taking too much protein doesn’t have any appreciable impact on the way your body digests sugar.

It also doesn’t have any long term effects on your blood sugar levels or insulin resistance. It mostly just does nothing.

However, it is important to note that the opinion of scientists on this isn’t settled by any means because there have been conflicting research results.

In 2003, for example, a five weeks study suggested that people who have a high protein diet may be less likely to develop high glucose levels.

In 2010, that study was challenged after a look at 146 South Asian Indians living in the United States saw that those who followed a high protein diet also had a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

These conflicting results have led scientists to have an agnostic stance on the benefits of eating protein-rich food for diabetics.

Even though we don’t know too much about the benefits of protein on people with diabetes, what we do know is that it’s certainly a healthy alternative for them.

For example, if you’re craving a quick snack, you might be tempted to get something with a lot of bad carbs and artificial sweeteners. But something like a protein shake might end up being healthier for you since protein digests slower than carbs and carries a reduced risk of a sugar spike.

If you’re one of those who think that meals high in protein need extra insulin, well, the answer to that is a bit complicated.

Here’s the thing; when you eat carbohydrates with protein or fat, it generally takes longer for your body to convert the carbs to glucose.

This can be a great thing if you eat a lot of snacks since snacks are great if they stave off hunger for longer. However, for larger meals, the effect can be a bit more complex because it’s harder to predict.

For one, it all depends on the makeup of the meal. How much protein, exactly is in it? What of fat? What kind of carbs are in it?

Let’s consider pizza, for example. When you eat pizza, you get a lot of carbs from the crust. The cheese and the toppings of the pizza are usually made up of protein and fat, so it’s a good combination of carbs and protein/fat.

Once you eat pizza, you could see your glucose levels rise for up to six hours afterwards — of course, this depends on how much you eat.

If you are on mealtime insulin, you have to account for the effect of protein or fat on your glucose levels.

Some people go around this by stretching out their insulin dose for big meals. This means that they take less insulin around the time of the meal, and then a correction bolus later. Either they do that, or they use their insulin pump to deliver an extended or dual bolus.

This is one of the reasons why taking large meals with carbs, proteins and fat can be a real problem for people with diabetes.

Taking too much insulin in this case may make your glucose levels go too, and taking too little, of course, may make it go too high. That’s why it matters to test your blood sugar a few hours after a meal or to use a continuous glucose monitor to stay on top of your glucose levels.

Another thing that people with diabetes should know is that high protein diets aren’t great for everyone with diabetes. For example, some studies have shown that people with type 1 diabetes may have to get an insulin shot after eating a meal high in protein.

Diabetic Nephropathy And Protein

diabetic nephropathy

Diabetic nephropathy is a kidney disease related to diabetes. It’s one of the complications associated with diabetes, and the peculiar thing about it is that one of the most important ways to manage it is to eat less protein.

Many people think that diabetics generally have to reduce their protein intake because of diseases like diabetic nephropathy and how it affects diabetics.

But that’s not true. If you’re a diabetic and still have full kidney function and haven’t suffered from kidney disease, you have nothing to worry about. The only thing that reducing your protein intake may do for you, in this case, gives you malnutrition.

If you’re suffering from this illness, you need to have a systematic review of your diet, as you may need to stop eating protein-rich foods. However, before you make any drastic decision concerning it, you should see your doctor.

Protein And Weight Loss

protein and weight loss

If you are in search of a good and easy to follow weight loss diet and think that eating more protein is the way to get there, you may not be entirely wrong.

If you’re suffering from type 2 diabetes, for example, you’re likely already dealing with obesity since that’s a contributing factor to it.

Since protein generally takes longer to digest than diabetes, including more protein in your diet may end up making you full for longer and may decrease your urge to eat unhealthy food.

However, people with diabetes should know that adding more protein to their diet will only help if the protein that is added is used to replace carbohydrates and fat. If it’s merely added on top of your normal diet, it will not lead to weight loss but weight gain.

This doesn’t mean that protein should replace all the important carbohydrates in your diet. For example, protein shouldn’t replace fresh fruits, vegetables, and wholegrain foods because these food groups contain fibre which is very beneficial to the body.

Reducing the level of fibre in one’s diet can be dangerous since fibre is crucial to the normal workings of the body.

It follows that the best diabetes diet or weight loss one can have is to combine foods rich in protein with high fibre ingredients, as they provide the best benefits nutrient-wise.

FAQs About Protein And Diabetes


Is Protein Better Than carbohydrates For Diabetics?

There’s a popular myth that protein is better than carbohydrates for diabetics — or even that carbohydrates are bad for diabetics. That’s just patently false.

First off, carbohydrates are an important part of any diabetic diet. Cutting carbs from your diet entirely as a diabetic will only lead to malnutrition.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you can eat carbs with abandon. They do affect your blood sugar levels, which is where you need to keep track of how much you eat each day.

Carbohydrates are necessary to provide your body with energy to function, and a lot of carb food sources also have vitamins, minerals and fibre, which are all important to the body. Some of those carb food sources include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Some carbohydrates, such as starchy foods or sugary carbs do not have these essential nutrients, so they are less vital and their intake should be tightly controlled.

It’s easy to say that protein is better for people with diabetes than carbohydrates, but that’s not necessarily true either.

A lot of protein comes with too much saturated fat, which can lead to weight gain or obesity, which is a risk factor for people with diabetes.

You should also be very careful with your portion size even when taking protein, as exceeding your recommended daily calories can lead to high glucose levels.

Should you use carbohydrates and protein to treat hypoglycemia?

According to the American Diabetes Association, pure glucose is the preferred treatment for low blood sugar, which is also known as hypoglycemia. This doesn’t mean you should always use pure glucose, though, as any carbohydrate that has glucose will raise your glucose levels.

Carbohydrate sources with a very high levels of protein should not be used to treat or prevent hypoglycemia because it doesn’t have the level of glucose needed to drastixau increase the body’s glucose levels.

Is It Possible To Eat Fruit For Snack Without The Protein?

Yes, fruit can be a snack. It’s also advised that you eat something with protein and fat while eating fruit, as it will keep you full and prevent a spike in your glucose levels. A good example is eating a slice of pineapple with something like peanut butter on each slice. You could also eat nuts too, as they usually have a lot of protein.

But you’ve also got to remember that everyone has different bodies, so you need to check your glucose levels to know exactly what’s right for you.


Protein doesn’t directly affect your blood glucose levels. However, since it’s difficult to eat foods that are just protein alone, it’s important to understand how the other components of high-protein foods can affect you.

That’s why diabetics need to understand what kind of proteins they should be eating, and which kinds they should limit to a recommended level.

In addition to that, people with diabetes need to limit their protein intake to the daily recommended amount and avoid using it to entirely replace the carbs in their diet, since carbs are still essential.

All of this is really hard work, and it can be very difficult to keep track of the protein in one’s diet, and how it’s affecting one’s blood sugar levels. That’s why diabetics should consult experts who understand how to help them live fuller lives with healthier habits.

With the help of such experts, diabetics would be able to make brave and sensible decisions about their lifestyle choices that will help them have a more complete life.

If you’re making an effort to create a healthy lifestyle and follow a nutritious diet, you’ve probably heard of the health benefits of leafy greens. While you may recognize that it’s important to incorporate green leafy vegetables into your diet, you might not know what foods fall under this category. Here, learn the answer to, “What are leafy greens?” as well as some information on the specific health benefits of these superfoods.

What Constitutes a Leafy Green?

It’s no secret that leafy greens are healthy, but you may not know exactly what vegetables fall under this category. Some of the healthiest leafy green vegetables are listed below:

  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Beet greens
  • Watercress
  • Mustard greens
  • Arugula
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Swiss chard
  • Endive
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Bok choy

What all of these vegetables have in common is that they come from plants with edible leaves, and as their name suggests, they can be identified by their green color. Some leafy greens like spinach can be consumed raw, whereas cooked collard greens are preferred, since they have a bitter flavor and tend to taste better when steamed.

Eating leafy greens like the ones above can be part a nutritious diet that supports a healthy lifestyle.

Nutrition Content of Leafy Greens

So, why eat leafy greens? You’ve probably heard of the health benefits of leafy greens, which come from their rich nutritional profile. According to nutrition experts, green leafy vegetables are rich in important nutrients, including vitamins A, C, E, and K. Some leafy greens are also an excellent source of the B vitamins, and many of them provide a healthy dose of fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

Beyond these micronutrients, green leafy vegetables are known for being high in antioxidants and carotenoids, which can protect the cells and reduce the risk of cancer. What makes leafy greens so beneficial for health is that they pack a powerful nutritional punch, while being low in sodium, carbohydrates, and cholesterol. This means that they can be incorporated into numerous diets, including those for individuals with health problems like diabetes.

Finally, leafy greens contain dietary nitrates, which are believed to have numerous health benefits.

While leafy greens as a whole come packed with nutrition, the specific nutritional content will vary between specific types of leafy green vegetables.
Consider the nutrition facts of various leafy greens below:


kale for diabetics

As a member of the cabbage family, kale comes with the following nutritional content per cup, cooked:

  • 43 calories
  • 6 grams carbohydrates
  • 1 gram sugar
  • 1 gram fat
  • 3.5 grams protein
  • 5 grams fiber


spinach for diabetics

Packed with iron, magnesium, folic acid, and calcium, spinach is a true superfood. It’s also rich in beta carotene and can promote eye health. Beyond these benefits, a cup of spinach includes the following nutritional profile:

  • 7 calories
  • 1 gram carbohydrates
  • Trivial amounts of fat and sugar
  • 1 gram of protein
  • 1 gram of fiber


watercress for diabetics

Cruciferous vegetables like watercress protect the body from cancer cell growth and other damage. A cup of watercress includes the following:

  • 4 calories
  • Under half a gram of carbohydrates
  • 1 gram of protein
  • Trivial amounts of fat, sugar and fiber

Romaine Lettuce

romaine lettuce for diabetics

A favorite in salads, romaine lettuce is a good source of beta carotene and other antioxidants which can boost the immune system. A cup of romaine lettuce boasts the following nutrition facts:

  • 8 calories
  • 2 grams carbohydrates
  • 1 gram sugar
  • 1 gram protein
  • 1 gram fiber
  • A trivial amount of fat


arugula and diabetes

Arugula is also among the cruciferous vegetables, and it is often eaten raw, as it has a pleasant peppery flavor. People may also put it in soups or pasta dishes. The nutrition facts for a one-cup serving of arugula are as follows:

  • 3 calories
  • Under half a gram of carbohydrates
  • Trivial amounts of fat, protein, sugar, and fiber

Swiss Chard

swiss chard and diabetes

Swiss chard is rich in polyphenols, which can stop cancer cell growth. A cup of Swiss chard contains:

  • 7 calories
  • 1 gram carbohydrates
  • Less than one gram of sugar and fat
  • Half a gram of protein and fiber

Bok Choy

bok choy for diabetics

Referred to as Chinese cabbage, this cruciferous vegetable contains the following in each one-cup serving:

  • 9 calories
  • 1.5 grams carbohydrates
  • 1 gram sugar
  • 1 gram protein
  • Almost 1 gram of fiber
  • A trivial amount of fat


cabbage and diabetes

While cabbage can sometimes be purple or white, it can also have green leaves, making it a member of the class of leafy green vegetables. A one-cup serving of this cruciferous vegetable contains the following:

  • 22 calories
  • 5 grams carbohydrates
  • 3 grams sugar
  • A trivial amount of fat
  • 1 gram of protein
  • 2 grams of fiber

What you probably notice when reviewing the nutrition facts of leafy green vegetables is that they are all low in calories, carbs, and sugar. This makes them an important part of a healthy diet. Raw greens and other leafy greens are packed with nutrition, but because they do not contain many calories, you can eat large portions to fill you up, so you get the fuel you need without overdoing it on calories. Their low sugar and carb content also makes them suitable for a diabetes diet.

Specific Health Benefits of Leafy Greens

It’s pretty clear that green leafy vegetables like romaine lettuce and raw spinach are full of nutrients, and along with this nutrition profile come specific health benefits. Consider some of the health benefits of leafy greens below:

  • Veggies with dark green leaves are packed with vitamin K, which reduces inflammation and improves bone health, thereby lowering the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Antioxidants in leafy greens can reduce the risk of stomach, breast, and skin cancer and lower the risk of heart disease.
  • The fiber content in green leafy veggies helps with digestion and weight management, making these vegetables beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Leafy green vegetables promote skin health, as research has shown that consuming them leads to reduced risk of skin cancer.
  • Leafy greens contain beta carotene, which promotes eye health and can reduce the risk of macular degeneration.

Research With Leafy Greens

Since leafy greens have gotten so much attention for their role in a healthy diet, researchers have conducted studies to determine the exact benefits of these veggies. Studies have shown that eating more leafy greens does reduce the risk of breast cancer. In fact, a study in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment found that eating more leafy vegetables reduced the risk of breast cancer by 30 percent!

Leafy greens can also lower the risk of heart disease. A new study in the European Journal of Epidemiology found that eating about one cup of leafy green vegetables per day reduces the risk of heart disease and lowers the incidence of hospitalizations linked to heart failure, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.

The beneficial effects of eating more leafy green vegetables are so strong that a review of 95 different studies showed that these veggies reduce the risk of heart disease and lower the risk of death from any cause.

Additional studies have shown that green leafy vegetables can reduce the risk of developing diabetes, because of their nutritional profile. For those who have diabetes, leafy greens may assist with blood sugar regulation, as animal research has shown that extracts from leafy green vegetables can lower blood glucose levels.

Adding Leafy Greens to Your Diet

If the idea of eating cooked spinach or raw greens on their own doesn’t seem too appealing, the good news is that you can incorporate leafy greens into your diet by adding them to some of your favorite dishes. Consider the following ways to incorporate leafy green vegetables into simple dishes you’re probably already making:

  1. Make a wrap that combines a lean meat like turkey or chicken, and throw in your favorite leafy greens, like romaine lettuce or swiss chard to add some crunch.
  2. Toss some spinach into your morning omelet or scrambled eggs.
  3. Throw together a salad with a variety of greens, such as kale, mustard greens, and swiss chard.
  4. Use stir fry greens like broccoli or bok choy and mix with chicken for a healthy homemade Asian-inspired dish.
  5. Steam collard or mustard greens and serve them as a side dish with dinner.
  6. Make green smoothies, and mix some of your favorite leafy greens with powerhouse fruits like blueberries or raspberries.
  7. Put leafy greens like bok choy and Swiss chard into homemade soups.
  8. Place greens on top of a pizza for a healthier version of this classic dish.

Healthy Recipes Including Leafy Greens

Throwing leafy greens into your favorite dishes is an easy way to incorporate these vegetables into your diet, but if you’re looking to try something new, consider the healthy recipes below.

Baked Kale Chips

baked kale chips

For this simple recipe, you’ll need just three ingredients: one bunch of kale, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of sea salt.

Follow these steps to prepare:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Remove kale leaves from the stems with kitchen shears, and break into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Wash and dry the kale leaves in a salad spinner.
  4. Drizzle olive oil on the kale leaves and sprinkle with salt, and then toss.
  5. Bake for 2o to 30 minutes, or until edges start to brown.

Caesar Salad

caesar salad

Caesar salads are an excellent way to eat more leafy greens. Toss one at home with one large head of romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, croutons, and homemade salad dressing.

The following steps are required for this recipe:

  1. Whisk together minced garlic, dijon, Worcestershire, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar, and then add in olive oil while continuing to whisk. Then, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing boil, and then toss in the dressing, mixing until the salad is evenly coated in dressing.

This Caesar salad makes an excellent side dish. If you’d like to turn it into a full lunch or dinner, consider adding some strips of grilled chicken for a healthy dose of protein.

Swish Chard & Tahini Dip

Swiss chard tahini dip

For those who love hummus, this dip will hit the spot. Ingredients include 2 bunches of Swiss chard, 2/3 cup olive oil, 5 finely chopped garlic cloves, 1/2 cup Tahini, 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, Kosher salt, toasted flatbread, and lemon wedges.

To make, follow the recipe below:

  1. Separate ribs and stems from the Swiss Chard and finely chop. Separately, tear Swiss chard leaves into small pieces.
  2. On medium-low heat, heat up 1/3 cup of olive oil.
  3. Cook Swiss chard ribs and stems for 5-7 minutes, until tender, stirring often. Add in garlic and cook while stirring for one minute.
  4. Add one handful of Swiss chard leaves at a time, and add another handful once the previous handful begins to wilt. Cook, while tossing, for 10-12 minutes.
  5. Let the Swiss chard cool, and remove excess liquid.
  6. Put Swiss chard and 1 tablespoon of cooking liquid in the food processor. Add tahini, lemon juice, and 1/3 cup olive oil. Season with salt and then process until the dip is creamy.
  7. Place the dip in a serving boil and drizzle with olive oil.
  8. Serve dip with flatbread and lemon wedges.

Sautéed Bok Choy

Sautéed Bok Choy

For this recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 peeled, minced garlic cloves
  • One half-inch piece of ginger root, peeled and minced
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 4 bunches baby bok choy, with ends trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chicken stock
  • Toasted sesame oil

Prepare with the following steps:

  1. Use a sauté pan with a lid to to heat canola oil over medium-high heat until it begins to simmer, and then add garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Cook, while constantly stirring, for 45 seconds.
  2. Add bok choy and stir the mixture carefully to cover the bok choy with oil. Cook for 2 minutes, add soy sauce and chicken stock. Cover the pan and cook for about two more minutes.
  3. Uncover the pan and and cook until the liquid is nearly evaporated, which will take about 3 more minutes.
  4. Remove the bok choy from pan and drizzle with sesame oil.

You can enjoy this recipe as a side dish along with chicken or another meat.

If you’re looking for ways to add more leafy greens to your diet, the recipes above are worth trying. In addition to using these recipes, you can make a habit of regularly throwing green leafy vegetables like kale into salads, smoothies, or eggs to easily incorporate them into your diet. You can find additional recipes on the Internet when you want to try something new.

The Bottom Line on Leafy Greens

Vegetable intake in general is important for health and nutrition, but leafy greens come with some unique health benefits. Incorporating more leafy greens into your diet is an excellent way to get the nutrients you need without adding excess fat, sodium, or calories to your diet. If you’re watching your weight or trying to manage a health condition, adding your favorite leafy greens to everyday dishes will deliver a healthy dose of micronutrients and fiber. This can keep your body systems functioning optimally and regulate blood pressure and blood glucose levels, reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

For those already living with diabetes, it can be helpful to add leafy greens to your diet. These foods will add volume and crunch to your favorite dishes, making them more satiating and satisfying, while helping you to keep calories and carbohydrates in check. Filling your plate with these low-calorie vegetables can also assist with weight management and prevent complications like high blood pressure that can come from excess weight.

If you’re looking for additional support for managing diabetes, download Klinio diabetes app. It offers time-saving resources, such as personalized diabetes meal plans and at-home workouts, so you can make the lifestyle changes necessary for keeping blood sugar levels in check.

When it comes to overall general health where there is no issue of a congenital or chronic condition, it would be fair to say that the vast majority of issues that people tend to experience over the course of their lives is related to their diet and the food they eat.

Common health issues such as obesity, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes are all massively linked to the foods and nutrients (or lack of) that you are putting into your body every single day. And these issues are very common as statistics show:

  • More than 70 million adults in the USA are classed as obese (35 million women and 35 million men). A further 99 million are overweight (54 million men and 45 million women).
  • Over 37 million Americans have diabetes and in approximately 90-95% of them, it is type 2 diabetes.
  • 40% – 93 million – Americans have high levels of cholesterol.

If you have been told by a doctor or other healthcare professional that you need to start making changes to your lifestyle or you simply feel like the time is right to start taking your health more seriously, then your diet is the most obvious place to look.

The Basics

basic food substitutions

Anyone who has tried to lose weight knows how difficult it can be. You can’t eat things you normally love and you need to cut down on portion size. You need to be conscious of every bite and understand more about the nutritional value of every food.

You need to start out with a positive mindset and that you can still enjoy a varied diet and maintain a good healthy balance of nutrition. The important thing to remember when trying to change your diet is the fact that healthy eating does not have to mean boring or flavorless eating. It isn’t all about fresh fruit and salad leaves.

The aim is to achieve a calorie deficit over a period of time – usually a day – and this can be done by building a healthy plate with the correct portions of the correct food groups, as well as controlling your snacking.

A tasty snack isn’t just the kinds of fatty, sugary, overly salty junk foods that you may have been tempted by too many times before. Healthy fats are just as tasty as the saturated fat that is found in junk food, And you can satisfy a sweet tooth without resorting to sugar. it’s all about seeking out the products that are deemed to be healthier and more acceptable to nutritional experts.

One of the easiest things to start doing is making healthy substitutions for foods that aren’t necessarily classed as healthy or beneficial.

Here is a guide to some of the best food substitutions that you can make regularly without sacrificing any flavour or satisfaction. These simple food substitutions will not only bring with them plenty of health benefits like reduced risk of heart disease, but they will also broaden your culinary horizons and introduce you to much more great food than you have been used to up to this point!

  1. Eat whole eggs not just the egg whites

One of the trendiest foods people quote for losing weight is egg white omelet. This is a low fat, low-calorie dish and it is so often quoted as being “diet food” because of this. However, there is so much more nutrition in the egg yolk. The yolk also contains a fat-fighting nutrient called choline, so you are much better off having whole eggs and cooking them in a healthy way like poaching or light scrambling them.

  1. Replace jam/jelly with mashed avocado

Instead of reaching for the sweet sugary jam to spread on your toast, swap things around and use some avocado. It obviously doesn’t replicate the flavours, but it is a massively healthy food swap that has a creamy texture and is packed full of healthy nutrients. It is easy to upgrade the flavor of avocado without adding calories. Try some hot sauce or mix in some taco seasoning. Look on Instagram for some amazing inspiration for ways to serve avocado toast.

  1. Replace cheese with fresh veggies

Instead of throwing cheese into an omelet, grab a handful of fresh vegetables and you automatically make your meal healthier with fewer calories. You don’t need us to tell just how important fresh fruit and vegetables are, not only for things like heart health but also for more fiber. For a cheesy flavor in other dishes, try adding some nutritional yeast flakes.

  1. Switch to a non-dairy milk

Organic whole milk is a hearty ingredient, but it contains too much fat for a truly healthy diet. Instead, try to experiment with some of the popular milk alternatives such as almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, peanut milk or any of the different types of milk that you will see on supermarket shelves these days. Almond milk is now so common that coffee chains usually offer it along with soya milk and most non-dairy milks can be used in the same way as dairy milk in everything from breakfast cereal to banana ice cream.

  1. Switch to brown bread

White bread is a classic that tastes nostalgic, but it really doesn’t have much nutritional value. The same can be said for white rice and brown rice. Nutrient deficient white rice and white bread don’t do anything for a good diet, but their whole-grain counterparts are simple food substitutions that can help a person to eat healthier. Avoid refined carbs in favor of good carbs.

  1. Choose low sodium soy sauce

Soy sauce is an easy way to make a bland rice recipe taste better, but it has a high salt content. A simple way to get around this is to opt for a low sodium version. Thankfully, these are very easy to find in supermarkets so you won’t have any trouble.

  1. Replace ground beef with ground turkey

Turkey is super low in calories, and it is also delicious when you know what to do with it! Red meat is one of the worst foods for heart health, so making the switch to turkey for things like homemade burgers and chilli can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease.

  1. Replace vegetable oil with olive oil

You would be surprised by how many calories there are in vegetable oil portions that aren’t that big. You can get around this by switching to olive oil in your cooking. You don’t need to use as much, and it is lower in calories to start with. A win/win situation with this food substitution! Also, where you can, use a spray oil. A little goes a long way.

  1. Decide on homemade salad dressing

If you look at the label of a supermarket salad bottled dressing, you will be amazed by how many unnecessary additives and things like excess sugar there are. Cut a lot of these calories out by making your own salad dressing at home. All you need to do is a quick Google search and you will find plenty of recipes that are only a few healthy ingredients but still pack a big flavour punch. When you make your own you control exactly what is included and avoid the added sugar and preservatives so common in processed foods.

  1. Replace burritos with bowls

If you love Mexican food, you can enjoy all the ingredients in a bow and forego the flour tortilla or corn tortilla. This way, you still get all of the valuable nutrients of the vegetables and rice, but without the calories of the nutrient-void white bread

  1. Make the switch to sweet potatoes

French fries are everyone’s guilty pleasure, but they don’t have to be quite so guilty if you choose to use sweet potatoes instead. They are much more nutritionally healthy because they are low on the glycemic index and also have an incredibly high vitamin A content. Sweet potatoes are just as tasty as mashed potatoes long as you avoid throwing in a knob of butter or some sour cream. A blob of Greek yogurt will work just as well to make a creamy mash. ,

Another potato switch that you can make is to cut out potato chips in favor of vegetable chips. Things like beets and parsnips make for great crunchy chips.

  1. Change your dairy habits

We have already spoken about making changes with the milk that you drink, but you should also look to make changes with your other dairy. Stay away from things like heavy cream and full fat cream cheese, and use low fat cheese options instead.

There are plenty to choose from on supermarket shelves. You also might want to consider switching to things like greek yogurt. There is more protein in plain greek yogurt than regular yogurt. Plain Greek yogurt can be a wonderfully healthy alternative to something like sour cream. All you need to do is add a few fresh herbs and spices to fill it with flavour.

Also with yogurts, be sure to check the label if you choose a fruit version, even if you opt for Greek yogurt. Sweetened fruit can significantly add to the calorie count.

  1. Be careful with your sauces

There are so many hidden calories in condiments and sauces, you don’t want to make a healthy meal full of things like dark leafy greens, zucchini noodles or cauliflower mash only to ruin it nutritionally with bad sauces.

Make sure that you pay attention to the labels and find tomato sauce that isn’t too sugary, for example. Unsweetened applesauce is also another great find.

  1. Always Choose Dark Chocolate

If you find that you can’t keep from craving chocolate, then at least make it a more acceptable craving by always opting for the dark chocolate. Things like dark chocolate chips are nutrionallty better than milk or white because they contain lots of antioxidants.

As food swaps go, swapping milk chocolate chips for dark one isn’t the worst thing in the world!

  1. Bake smart

Baking traditionally uses a lot of butter and sugar but you will find so many recipes for your favorite baked goods if you look online. For example, coconut oil, creamed coconut, apple sauce or mashed banana can be used instead of fat in many recipes. Wholegrain cereals can be a substitute for breadcrumbs. Greek yogurt can replace milk and oil. Honey or agave syrup can replace sugar and there are many lower calorie flour options than regular white flour. And did you know that garbanzo beans water (known as aquafaba) can substitute for egg whites?

  1. Try To Add Lots Of Flavour To Food Swaps

The number one complaint that people have when making food swaps is that the new versions don’t taste as good as the old versions. Do your best to make this a myth by adding lots of your own flavour into your food.

Things like lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, taco seasoning and chia seeds can really make a big difference. You are basically trying to replace the added sugar of the corn syrup that we have all become addicted to in junk food with ingredients that are much better for your heart health.

  1. Eat Meals That Are Good For Bone Health

Try to concentrate on your bone health by enjoying meals like chicken broth, lasagna noodles, garbanzo beans, a quick healthy stir fry, baked goods made with whole wheat flour (like a whole grain English muffin) and mashed bananas that have a lovely creamy texture.

  1. Focus On Portion Control

Once you have made all of these great food substitutions to get more fiber and nutrients into your diet, the next step is portion control. Make the effort to only have a few slices of pizza rather the whole thing, or cut your chicken tenders into thin strips rather than eating a whole basket etc.

Substitutions are about being smart. Try to set out to find new flavors to enjoy rather than trying to simply replicate the unhealthy foods you usually eat. Make clever swaps to improve your diet. Remember that you are making these food substitutions for the sake of your blood sugar and other health factors and when your blood sugar levels are normal, you are able to live a happy, normal life.

When it comes to healthy eating, the average person needs nutrients combined from various food categories. Namely, you need to feed your body with meals that pack a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, fat, fiber, and minerals. Each of these food categories offers essential nutrients, which you need in varying amounts.

For a person with diabetes, carbohydrates are generally considered a no-no. In fact, most doctors advise people with diabetes to reduce their intake of carbs as excessive consumption is deemed unhealthy for the body.

Carbohydrates are rich sources of sugar and starch, both ranking high on the glycemic index scale. Our system quickly digests them and converts them into blood glucose. This usually translates to increased blood glucose levels in patients with diabetes.

However, you don’t necessarily need to avoid carbohydrates completely. Carbohydrates contain fiber which has been regarded as “the good carb.” According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), it’s the healthiest form of carbohydrate. The health body asserts that fiber-rich foods will significantly benefit people with diabetes and those at risk of developing the illness.

This exploratory guide enlightens you on how fiber works in battling diabetes and how you can increase your fiber content to just the right amount.

An Overview of What Fiber Is and How It Works

Dietary fiber is a significant promoter of digestive health. A 2018 review of dietary fiber by Marc P. McRae reinforces this valuable plant food nutrient to be incredibly effective in reducing the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Fiber acts as nature’s broom for our digestive system. It’s a type of carbohydrate commonly found in plant-based foods.

Naturally, the body is unable to digest this type of carbohydrate. However, it’s known to pass through the digestive tract, taking on waste as it exits the system. Even in its unprocessed state, it constitutes a healthy diet and benefits the body, mainly regulating blood sugar levels.

To get the best from fiber, you should consume 20–30 grams per day. However, only 5% of people in the US get up to this amount per day. The majority only get about 15 g on average per day.

The reason for this somewhat low number isn’t far-fetched — most people don’t just eat enough fruits, whole grains, vegetables, etc. While it’s essential to have a high fiber diet as a person with diabetes, you should ensure you increase your fiber intake gradually to curb side effects like bloating, cramping, and gas.

Categorizing Fiber

categorizing fiber

Fiber is categorized into two, including:

Soluble Fiber

This type of fiber is characterized by its ability to dissolve in water. It forms a gel-like substance that helps slow down the digestion process when fully dissolved. It’s also quite effective in weight loss and lowering blood glucose levels.

Furthermore, soluble fiber is incredibly effective in lowering cholesterol levels by preventing the digestion of dietary cholesterol. It also boosts colon health by helping the gut bacteria thrive. You stand to derive these benefits and more when you consume foods high in soluble fiber, including black beans, lima beans, apple, artichoke, lentils, etc.

Insoluble Fiber

As the name implies, this type of fiber doesn’t dissolve in water. Instead, it’s left intact during digestion passing through the digestive tract to execute its effects.

Insoluble fiber offers many benefits to the body in this undigested state. For example, it helps prevent constipation by absorbing fluid in the gastrointestinal tract and speeding up waste processing. Examples of foods that contain this form of fiber are almonds, pear, lentils, garbanzo beans, strawberries, walnuts, etc.

Is Fiber Supplement a Thing?

Apart from eating food high in fiber content, you can also get a good dose of fiber from fiber supplements. These supplements are usually available in drug stores or food stores. Suffice to say, they can be a great alternative to plant fibers, especially for people with gastrointestinal issues.

Although fiber supplements function just as well as regular high fiber foods, some have been observed to cause side effects like bloating. Thus, a preference for high fiber foods over fiber supplements is often advised. It’s also vital you consult with your dietician before taking fiber supplements.

How Does Dietary Fiber Benefit Diabetes Patients?

fiber supplements

When it comes to chronic illnesses like diabetes, the kind of food a patient consumes warrants special attention. Foods containing high fiber have proven incredibly effective in battling this illness. They provide a wide range of health benefits for people with diabetes and can also help prevent the disease from developing.

One of the significant challenges people with diabetes face is fluctuating blood sugar levels. When blood levels rise too high, it can result in some health complications.

Also, diabetes is known to lead to cardiovascular disease, resulting from high blood cholesterol.  Thankfully, a high fiber diet, especially those rich in soluble fiber, helps lower LDL cholesterol, reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases like heart disease.

It does this by preventing the recirculation of bile salts when it binds to them. This way, it forces the body to produce more of these salts using cholesterol from the liver. The resultant effect is a reduction of blood cholesterol.

Obesity is another significant risk factor for diabetes. Luckily, a high fiber diet is filling, helping you manage your appetite. In addition, foods high in fiber content have been observed to take longer to chew, giving your body enough time to figure out if it’s full or not, preventing you from overeating. This helps with weight management and also maintains your blood glucose levels.

Finally, fiber takes care of gut health by keeping your internal plumbing running smoothly. Namely, it functions as a laxative agent, getting rid of unnecessary waste in the digestive tract. Your gut bacteria also benefit from soluble fiber as they get the necessary food they need from its fermentation.

The Right Amount of Fiber for a Person With Diabetes

High-fiber diets are essential for people of all ages. But, more importantly, people living with diabetes are to follow the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Eating fiber within this range guarantees you a healthy, fiber-rich diet. However, you must integrate fiber into your diet plan gradually. That’ll help your body adjust to the diet change. 

Fast-tracking things or going overboard can lead to uncomfortable digestive symptoms. Notably, you can quickly get bloated or suffer constipation if you don’t pace your fiber intake.

ADA advises taking more water when on a high-fiber diet meal plan. Water aids the smooth movement of food through the body, which is also true for fiber-rich meals. So, drink water and lots of it at that.

Foods That Are High Fiber Sources

Generally, fiber tends to exist in varying quantities in different kinds of food. However, to get the correct amount of fiber for you, it’s good to know those that have it in high amounts. That said, here are some fiber-rich foods that’ll surely be a great addition to your diabetes diet.


Various types of beans have differing quantities of fiber. Experts advise mixing up these legumes to get the best portion of the fiber. For example, a half-cup serving of black beans has as much as 6 g of fiber, while a similar serving of white beans contains only about 5 grams. Combining them with other food such as salad or soup would make a fiber-rich meal.

Fresh Popcorn

Popcorn is often regarded as one of the healthiest snacks. However, we’re not referring to those enjoyed at the movie theaters, often mixed with salt, butter, and popcorn topping. Rather, we mean a fresh air-popped popcorn source containing 2 grams of fiber.

Enjoying a bowl of popcorn on a regular afternoon is a great way to get more fiber into your system. Worthy of mentioning is that this snack contains no cholesterol or fat; it’s as healthy as it comes.


Get more soluble fiber with these green veggies. They’re rich in vitamins A, C, and K, offering the perfect replacement for rice.

You get about 3.5 g of fiber from ⅔ cup of canned peas. Apart from getting a good amount of fiber per serving, you also get 3.8 g of protein and just 11 g of carbohydrates. Yellow peas contain more fiber, offering about 9 g per quarter-cup serving.

However, it’d be best if you watch your carbohydrate intake. For example, adding some peas to your salad will increase its fiber content.


These legumes are a great source of fiber, with 50% of their carbohydrate makeup being just fiber. Remarkably, a cup of lentils offers as much as 15 g of fiber. More particularly, they’re an excellent source of soluble fiber. Other added benefits include 40 g and 18 g of carbohydrates and protein, respectively, per one-cup serving.


Get a good fill of fiber in your next meal by scooping some avocado. These bright green fruits contain both soluble and insoluble fiber as well as healthy fatty acids. Namely, a quarter-cup serving offers at least 2 g of fiber, 3 g of carbohydrate, 5 g of fat, and just 50 calories.

Suffice to say, this fruit contains all the nutrients essential for people with diabetes. Eating this in place of saturated fat is a good recommendation to help lower LDL cholesterol.


The above are just a few examples of fiber-dense foods. It’d help if you looked out for artichokes that contain about 4.8 g of fiber in a half-cup serving. Broccoli is another cruciferous green veggie that offers a decent amount of fiber at 2 g per cup. Berries, pears, oatmeal, wheat bran, shredded wheat, etc., are other excellent sources of fiber. 

Having outlined the various types of food that are pretty rich in fiber, the next thing to look at is how to integrate them into your regular diet. The following section outlines the right way to get a diet that’s a lot richer in fiber, especially for a diabetic.

How to Get More Fiber in Your Diet

Figuring out how much fiber is right or the type of food that contains the fiber you need can be quite a hassle. However, knowing how to add more fiber to your regular meal in just the right way would go a long way to improving your overall health.

You can also adopt new diet plans that are exceptionally rich in fiber. It’s advisable to spread your fiber intake across your daily meal plan instead of taking it at once. The following tips can help:

  • Go for a fiber-friendly breakfast: A bowl of crunchy nuts and berries should suffice for a healthy, fiber-rich breakfast.
  • Do more of whole grains: Brown rice is an excellent source of fiber; take more of it in place of white rice. Also, whole wheat pasta and whole wheat bread are excellent choices to give yourself a fiber boost.

Key Takeaways

Fiber or healthy carb (as it’s commonly referred to) is essential for people with diabetes and those at risk of developing the illness. Of course, you need to inform your dietician or doctor before switching to a fiber-rich diet. These healthcare professionals are in the best position to enlighten you on the right amount of fiber you require and how you can successfully fit them into your diet.

Overall, opt for a fiber-rich whole-grain diet with dried fruits, nuts, and berries. Don’t forget to eat apples at least once per day. You also can’t go wrong with the veggies, broccoli, and other green vegetables that qualify as great fiber sources. While this guide outlines how you can successfully add fiber to your regular meal, you should slowly introduce fiber-filled foods into your diet to preclude certain side effects like bloating and gas.

Another great way to monitor your fiber intake is via digital meal planners, which help manage your meal plan and monitor your blood sugar level. Our Klinio app offers a great resource of foods rich in fiber and suggests just how much you should take daily based on your blood sugar levels. To cap it all, our app users enjoy frequent updates on the most recent approaches to managing diabetes through diet changes and workout sessions.

If you know somebody with diabetes, or are perhaps diabetic yourself, then you will know just how much food and its nutritional content can matter on a minute-by-minute basis during the day.

In this modern age of health consciousness, many people are much more mindful of healthy eating patterns and the calories and ingredients that they put into their bodies. When you have diabetes, however, this consciousness of healthy eating takes on a whole new significance.

Rather than thinking about small-scale issues like skin complexion or hitting a calorie target for the day, those who have diabetes have to pay much more serious attention to the foods that they consume. In very serious and sensitive cases, making sure that you as a diabetic have the perfect plate of balanced food following United States government guidelines could be the difference between maintaining good health and becoming ill.

What Is Diabetes?

In simple terms, diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) condition that negatively affects the way that your body is able to turn food into energy.

Most of the food that you eat every day gets broken down into glucose, which is essentially sugar and is then released into your bloodstream.

When this release happens and your blood sugar rises, what should normally happen is your body sends a signal to your pancreas to release the insulin hormone. Insulin acts like a gatekeeper, unlocking the door of your body for blood sugar to be used as energy.

If you have diabetes, your body is not able to make enough insulin to successfully complete this task, or it is unable to make the best use of the insulin that it does create. When there is insufficient insulin and it can’t perform its function efficiently, too much sugar stays in the bloodstream, which can lead to problems ranging from vision loss to kidney disease to heart disease and more.

There are two main types of diabetes – type I and type II. Type I is usually congenital while type II is acquired. Diabetes cannot be self-diagnosed and must be confirmed by a medical professional.

Type II diabetics can manage their condition through lifestyle changes such as losing weight, eating healthy food, and being active.

Type I diabetics have to maintain insulin levels by introducing it directly into their bodies and also follow healthy eating patterns in order to manage their condition.

How Does Diabetes Affect The Body?

Before a diagnosis, diabetics usually experience symptoms such as

  • An increased thirst that can’t seem to be satisfied.
  • A much more frequent feeling and need to urinate.
  • A higher level of fatigue than your daily exertions should warrant.
  • Moments and periods of blurred vision.
  • A sensation of tingling or slight pain in all or some of the hands, feet or legs.

When not properly medicated and controlled by lifestyle changes, diabetes can have a massively negative impact on the body. Due to the fact that it contributes to high blood pressure, diabetes massively raises the risk of heart-related problems and strokes.

People who do not make serious changes to their lives are also very likely to lose much, if not all, of their vision over time. This is due to the damage caused to blood vessels by high sugar levels.

Another area of concern is the kidneys. Function deteriorates over time, particularly if issues such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol are not addressed.

The Relationship Between Diabetes And Food

The relationship is complicated because it is multifaceted.

Diabetes affects how the body processes fat, protein and carbohydrates and its ability to turn them into energy (sugar). All these nutrients require insulin but, carbohydrates, for example, needs insulin immediately after it is ingested.

If your body is unable to sufficiently cope with even average amounts of sugar, then it makes perfect sense that you need to start cutting out as much sugar from your diet as you possibly can.

Diabetics also need to be conscious of eating healthy to avoid weight gain. Excess weight can exacerbate any problems diabetes can cause.

Somebody who has diabetes should maintain a healthy diet that includes all of the nutrients and ingredients that are needed in order to give the body the energy that it needs. This isn’t the kind of eating that involves fasting and crash dieting to lose weight. Rather, this is a complete lifestyle that will help you to keep your diabetic symptoms under control.

Alongside insulin and any prescribed medications, eating right is the best thing you can do to control your diabetes. Experts have devised some guidelines to help called the Diabetes Plate Method.

What Is The Diabetes Plate Method?

The Diabetes Plate Method is also known as MyPlate. MyPlate is used in nutrition counseling for both diabetes and general healthy eating.

Developed and approved by award-winning, groundbreaking experts in the fields of diabetes and nutrition, the official website of MyPlate is maintained by the United States Government Department of Agriculture.

This federal-backed nutrition policy encourages healthy eating for all Americans not only with what foods to eat but also has beneficial educational purposes that help us understand more about the food we eat. By having a greater understanding of the healthy eating pyramid and food groups, everyone can produce balanced meals.

Using this method, you follow the dietary guidelines to create meals that are not only perfectly portioned in terms of calories, but also optimally balance important and essential nutrients from all food groups.

Here is an easy-to-understand and easy-to-follow guide to using the Diabetes Plate Method.

Choose a dinner plate in your kitchen that is not too big and not too small. Ideally, this should be about 9 inches in diameter. Don’t choose an overly large plate – you need the visual aspect of food filling the plate to aid the mental processes of hunger.

  1. First, visualize the plate in four quarters. This food plate chart is an essential of the MyPlate guidelines and it will make it easier to build the ideal meal with different foods.
  2. Now fill half of the plate with non-starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables are low in carbohydrates, which means that they do not significantly raise your blood sugar levels. They are also very high in minerals, vitamins and fiber, and should make up at least half of your meal. Examples of non-starchy vegetables
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Okra
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Salad greens
  • celery
  • Cabbage

    3. In one quarter of the plate, add your protein. It should be high in protein but low fat. Protein, especially from animal sources, can contain too much saturated fat, and this increases the risk of heart disease. Red meat, for example, is best avoided as a prime nutrition source. Some of the good sources of lean proteins are
  • Eggs
  • Poultry (chicken and turkey)
  • Oily fish like salmon, trout, tuna
  • Lean pork
  • Shellfish

Some of the best plant-based sources of protein are

  • Edamame
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • chickpeas
  • Nuts

    4. The final quarter of your plate is for carbohydrates. Some carbohydrates are essential for maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, but too many carbs can raise blood sugar immediately after consumption.

Examples of healthy carbohydrates

  • Whole grains like bulgur wheat, brown rice and quinoa.
  • Whole grain products like pasta and bread.
  • Starchy veggies like butternut squash, green peas, pumpkin, sweet potato and plantain.
  • Legumes and beans like garbanzo, kidney, black and pinto.
  • Portions of fresh and dried fruit.
  • Dairy products like yogurt and milk, as well as milk substitutes such as soy.

5. Although not included on the food plate chart, the final step is to choose the beverage that accompanies the meal. A glass of water is the very best option. It contains zero calories, zero carbohydrates and has zero effect on blood sugar.

Other options include

  • Unsweetened tea (both hot and cold)
  • Sparkling water/club soda
  • Diet sodas with zero calories.
  • Unsweetened coffee (both hot and cold)
  • Flavored waters that don’t contain any calories.

So to recap, the ideal diabetic plate is one quarter lean protein, one quarter unrefined carbs and two quarters vegetables. It’s about learning what you can and can’t eat and in time, practice and knowing how to plate food will result in healthy eating habits without needing the visual clue of the food plate chart. Using a diabetes management app will also aid the process.

What foods should a diabetic person avoid?

The cruel part of being diabetic is the list of foods that are ‘off limits’ are generally delicious, guilty pleasure foods that would normally be the first thing you would order off a menu.

They range across all five food groups but no whole group is ruled out. They are not prohibited as such, but to manage diabetes and for general healthy eating, they should be limited but best avoided.

Sugary Drinks

You would be amazed by the amount of sugar in a can of soda. In addition to the glucose, most sugary sodas also contain fructose, another type of sugar that has been linked to insulin resistance. For obvious reasons, it is advisable to stick to the zero-calorie diet versions of fizzy and other soft drinks such as heavy fruit-based drinks.

Trans Fatty Acids

Also known as trans fat, this is a type of saturated fat that is artificially made to be stable and have a longer shelf life. You will find trans fats in most cheap processed snacks and foods, and they have been identified as contributing to insulin resistance. Most dietary guidelines suggest avoiding foods containing trans fats if you follow healthy eating habits. Avoid margarine and butter substitutes (spreads) and choose olive oil over other types.

Refined Grains

Refined grains are processed grains. Unlike whole grains which have multiple health benefits, refined grains have been so processed that most of their nutritional goodness is lost. The downside of this is that foods made from refined grains are very high in carbohydrates. Sadly, refined grains also make up the bulk of the basic Western diet – white bread, white pasta and white rice.

It is much better to choose brown (whole grain) versions. There are plenty of different types of bread and lots of different shapes of whole wheat pasta.

Fruit Flavored Yogurts

You might think that, unless you are lactose intolerant, yogurt would be a good Myplate food. Dairy yogurt comes in low fat versions made from low fat milk, sits nicely in the protein group, has good nutritional value and is said to have numerous health benefits.

This is certainly applicable to plain yogurt but when you move into the realms of fruit and fancy yogurts, the sugar content should be a cause for concern for diabetics. Some fruits are very high in sugar. If you opt for a non-dairy option, the product is usually loaded up with stuff to make it taste like yogurt. Compare the calories of flavored and non-dairy yogurts against plain yogurt to see the difference immediately.

Sweetened Breakfast Cereals

This is important to know because so many cereal companies gear their advertising to kids, positioning their cereals as a sensible, healthy breakfast option. Despite the various health claims on the boxes of sweet-tasting cereals, they are incredibly processed, incredibly high in sugar, and incredibly high in carbohydrates … all things to avoid when you are diabetic and trying to stick to good foods on the healthy eating pyramid. MyPlate balanced meals include breakfast and there are many good choices of cereals based on whole grains.


It might seem that as a diabetic, you have to follow the same sort of restricted diet as someone trying to lose weight but if you are committed to keeping your blood sugar levels down, then you have to play by the rules of the science.

With the help of the Diabetes Plate Method and the knowledge of foods to avoid, you should be able to control your diabetes and enjoy a healthy, happy life.

Carbohydrates are generally considered “bad” food for people with diabetes and are usually associated with one of the major causes of spikes in blood sugar levels — glucose. Your medical doctor would have also emphasized the need for you to reduce carb intake because of its dangers to blood sugar and entire health.

While the talk about carbohydrate intake and its adverse effects on blood sugar and diabetes is valid, the truth is that not all carbs pose such a risk to diabetics’ health. In fact, some carbs do the opposite and aid blood sugar control. The goal is to find a balance and the right carbs to eat.

Did we just say right carbs for diabetes? Yes, you read right! This article examines the different categories of carbs that are safe for diabetics and answers questions like, “how many carbs should a diabetic have a day?”

What Are the Experts Saying?

While this article outlines the differences between healthy and not-so-friendly carbs for people with diabetes, this section focuses on experts’ stance on carbs and diabetes.

Top-rated diabetes educator, Meredith Nguyen, throws weight in support of carbs as an essential part of a diabetic’s diet and isn’t a food source to completely cut off for the general long-term safety of people with the condition. The Dallas-based expert states that carbs aren’t exactly diabetics’ enemy.

She stated that while people usually think of carbs as only sugar and starch, it’s only the half-truth as carbs also contain fiber, which is very valuable for people with diabetes. She acknowledges that fiber is a significant component of many healthy foods that diabetics eat as it controls blog sugar spikes and dips.

Erin Palinski-Wade, the author of the 2-Day Diabetes book, also talked about the importance of fiber as a vital part of a complete diabetes diet and shouldn’t be necessarily cut off.

According to him,

“Carbohydrates provide energy to your body. But not all carbohydrates are created equal. For people with diabetes, choosing whole, unprocessed carbohydrates over refined options and simple sugars is key.”

He continued that fiber-giving carbs help reduce heart disease and cancer risks and also promote a healthy body weight.

The Difference Between Good and Bad Carbohydrates

Source: Fabulous Body

For people with diabetes, carbohydrates can be categorized into three groups. These three groups are then divided into good carbs and bad carbs in the context of their health benefits for people with diabetes.

The three groups that carbohydrates fall into are:

  • Sugar
  • Starch
  • Fiber

The sugary crabs are generated from lactose-containing dairy foods, sweet treats like chocolate, sweets, candies, soft drinks, and desserts.

On the other hand, starchy carbs include major meals like white bread, starchy vegetables, pasta, rice, yams, sweet potatoes, plantains, couscous, and breakfast cereals.

Fiber is the other carb and is found in foods like oats and barley peanuts, pulses, brown rice, potatoes, and wholemeal bread.

Bad Carbs

The three types of carbs are prevalent in general food choices. However, starchy and sugary carbs are considered unhealthy or bad for people with diabetes because they increase blood glucose levels.

Starchy food such as white bread has an extremely high glycemic index and glycemic load and is easily broken down by the digestive system and converted into blood glucose. The ease with which the body breaks down this starchy food eventually leads to excessively high glucose in the blood, increasing overall blood sugar level.

While people without diabetes have enough insulin sensitivity to control spikes eventually, people with diabetes find it difficult to replicate the same insulin production, predisposing them to further complications.

The effects of sugary carbs on blood glucose are the same as those of starchy foods. In essence, people with diabetes will have similar blood sugar spikes as with starchy foods. Moreover, sugary carbs usually contain added sugar which is not the best for people with diabetes.

Good Carbs

Fiber is a good carb and is highly recommended by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) as a healthy diet for people with diabetes. Fibers do not only serve as food; they also act as a digestive system cleanser.

They have an extremely low glycemic index and can’t be digested by the body and converted into glucose. Instead, they form a thick liquid that naturally cleanses the body of other food sources that increase blood sugar and take them out with them.

Fiber also helps a person feel full quicker than any type of crabs or food. This ensures you eat less than you would have with other meals.

In addition, fiber carbs reduce cholesterol in the body and aid digestion generally. However, the most notable benefit of carbs is that it controls blood sugar. Namely, it ensures zero/minimal sudden spikes and dips in blood sugar levels, especially after medications or meal consumption.

What’s the Right Amount of Carbs for a Diabetic?

One of the most important questions that people with diabetes often ask relates to determining the right amount of carbs per serving. This question is valid as cutting off carbs from your meal can be highly challenging.

Suppose you’ve ever wondered, “how many carbs should a diabetic have a day?” or pondered on the question, “how many carbs per meal for a diabetic?” In that case, this section should address your current concerns.

Since carb raises blood sugar levels, it’s only logical to include only a minimal proportion of these food sources in your diet. Experts and medical institutions generally recommend low-carb diets with fiber as the best carbs to go for due to their effectiveness in regulating blood pressure and aiding weight loss.

A 2018 article published in The BMJ recommended that people with diabetes go for carb diets that are majorly fiber-filled. Suggested foods include vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, legumes, and dairy.

These foods were considered as the major inclusion of a diabetes management diet. However, there are limits to how many carbs a diabetic should have for a day, fiber inclusive.

The recommended carb amount for each person is unique as certain factors play a role and determine how well every person reacts to the condition. When it comes to the question of, “how many carbs should a diabetic have in a day, week or month?” certain factors determine this, including:

  • Sex
  • Age
  • Body Size
  • Level of Exercising

Fiber is undoubtedly the primary carb diet to include in your meal if you have diabetes, as it enhances the body’s overall operation and controls blood sugar. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), the recommended amount of fiber per 1,000 calories is 14 grams at the minimum.

The good thing about the DGA recommendation is that it’s easy to sustain, and the majority of the calories are from fiber. You could ensure that the other comes from fats and protein. Overall, your aim should be to cut off bad carbs as much as possible.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), anyone looking to migrate to a low-carb diet by integrating fiber into their meal plan should start little and not rush it. This argument particularly holds water for those that undergo a new and deliberate fiber inclusion in meals.

The gradual addition of fiber in meals helps the body appropriately adjust to the change in diet. On the other hand, a sudden increase of fiber in meals will lead to too much gas in your digestive system, cause bloating and even trigger constipation.

The diabetes health institution, ADA, also suggests increasing water intake when upping fiber in meals. Notably, water helps fiber move through the body, so you’ll need lots of it to aid the process and reduce the effect of bloating.

The suggested fiber sources by the ADA are:


Pulses are common foods and include peas and lentils, think navy beans, split peas, small white beans, chickpeas, and pinto beans.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are also suggested additions by the ADA, with those having edible skins (apples, pears, e.t.c) being the main focus. Fresh fruits with edible seeds like berries are also recommended as they have natural sugar and can substitute for the need to consume sweet foods.

Most vegetables are excellent fiber sources, and you should have no problem eating them and making them a part of your diet.


The ADA suggests all edible nuts as healthy fibers. These include almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and pistachios. Some of these nuts are also healthy fats, so there should be discretion in servings to avoid excessive calorie stacking.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are high in fiber and great for people with diabetes. The ADA outlines several grains that you can go for as a diabetic, including quinoa, bulgur, barley, brown rice, oats, farro, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat, and wheat bran.

The best carbs for healthy eating should have up to 5 grams of fiber, while excellent alternatives should have up to 2.5 grams per serving. However, there’s no one-size-fits-all amount of the best low-fat diet carbs per day for a diabetic.

You’ll need to meet your doctor to help you craft a good plan for the best amount of fiber to go for. However, one thing that you should be sure of is that the fewer the carbs in your meal, especially bad carbs, the lesser your chances of having high blood sugar.

Other Important Inclusions to Control Blood Sugar

Source: YouMatter

We’ve discussed the major fiber foods in the above sections. This section will consider other essential areas that complement a diet plan centered around fiber foods with fewer calories and a low carb count.

To meet up with your blood sugar goals, other vital factors that you should consider include:


You should take exercise as a crucial part of your health and lifestyle. For one, exercise plays a significant role in blood sugar control, and incorporating it into your diet will help you become less dependent on diabetes medications.

There are different types of exercise you can go for, and choosing the intensity that your body can tolerate is essential. Notably, this may determine your ability to sustain physical fitness for the long term. You can start with moderate exercising and, as you continue, incorporate more intense routines.

Adequate Rest

As a person managing diabetes, you can never go wrong with having a good rest; this underscores why you must ensure you rest properly. Don’t stay awake when you should be sleeping to avoid getting stressed and an increased risk of unnecessary blood sugar spikes.

Intermittent Fast

A fiber carb diet, coupled with proper intermittent fasting, can translate into impressive results. Choosing a great window that ensures you eat early enough so that your body can use the food as fuel before you go to bed is key. Moreover, pairing a fiber diet with intermittent fasting will help you become less dependent on diabetes medication and allow you to live a normal life.


Fiber carbs are excellent food options and can complement other diabetic management plans. Still, incorporating healthy carbs for diabetes into your diet must be done with the recommendation of medical personnel. Your doctor is in the best position to make correct decisions on how best to replace unhealthy carbs and some fatty foods with fiber to prevent your body from reacting poorly.

People with diabetes who depend on diabetes medications and insulin doses can also incorporate more fiber carbs into their meals. They will, however, need their doctor for suggestions on how to “gradually” replace their former unhealthy diets with more fiber carbs.

Finally, you can never go wrong with our diabetes management meal app, Klinio, when it comes to planning how much diet and overall calories you consume daily, weekly, or monthly. Remarkably, diabetes meal apps have continued to grow in importance over the years and are incredibly reliable to help people with diabetes make better food choices.

If you’re familiar with diabetes mellitus, or simply diabetes, you may be aware of the two common forms, type 1 and type 2. However, did you know that there are other types out there? These include gestational diabetes and a form that is often called type 1.5. These are just the main forms as diabetes covers a huge group of metabolic disorders, with most of them possibly causing long-term damage if untreated.

What all these conditions have in common is that the body does not have sufficient insulin to use the energy from food. Insulin is required to convert the sugar available from food into fuel that is carried to all cells in the body.

What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus?

Most forms of diabetes have similar traits. These are related to the body’s inability to use energy from food and causing excess sugar in the blood. 

You can have diabetes and not even know it, much like 7.2 million people in the US. Or you may have prediabetes, like a whopping 84.1 million, according to statistics.

That is why it is important that you are familiar with the many indications of diabetes, such as:

  • Increased urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Weight loss
  • More hunger, despite eating normally
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Frequent urinary or yeast infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry skin
  • Slow-healing wounds, infections, or sores
  • More dental problems, including bad breath and cavities
  • Pain, numbness, tingling in the feet

If you have one or more of these symptoms, even if you attribute them to something else, do consider getting a blood sugar test. Diabetes is best treated in the early stages so that you can take appropriate steps to prevent any later complications. 

Causes of Different Types of Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes is quite a variable disease as people might not necessarily attribute to one specific type – they might have combined symptoms. As of today, these are the few most commonly discussed and experienced forms of diabetes: 

Type 1 Diabetes

This is an autoimmune disease and affects a small percentage of people with diabetes. The immune system damages the pancreas in such a way that it is unable to manufacture insulin. It was earlier known as juvenile diabetes because it’s more prevalent among the younger population, including children.

Type 2 Diabetes

This form of diabetes occurs in the majority of people with diabetes. It is also known as Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM) and is diagnosed predominantly in adults. It develops due to two reasons: either the pancreas does not make enough insulin, or the body’s insulin sensitivity decreases, so it is unable to use the insulin efficiently. Sometimes both factors co-exist. 

Gestational Diabetes

Pregnancy causes many hormonal changes in a woman. These can disrupt the normal balance of sugar and insulin and cause high blood sugar, resulting in gestational diabetes. If gestational diabetes is not diagnosed and managed, it puts the mother and the baby at risk for various complications.

Type 1.5 Diabetes

Often called type 1.5 diabetes mellitus, it is known as latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA). It is a combination of type 1 and type 2 diabetes and may be mistakenly diagnosed as only the latter.

It actually occurs when the immune system kills the insulin-producing cells (much like type 1 diabetes). It can be diagnosed with a blood test known as the GAD antibody test. If it is positive, your doctor may diagnose LADA. 

Treatment Options 

The good thing about diabetes is that it can be treated, regardless of its type. Patient compliance is very crucial to treat diabetes. No matter which form or combination you have, you have to achieve a balance between your sugar levels, your diet, and your activity. And you have to take your insulin or medications as prescribed by your doctor. If you neglect even one aspect, you can face minor or major diabetes complications. 

Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes requires external insulin. You can take this in the form of injections at regular intervals or get an insulin pump attached to your body, which will release the insulin (usually rapid-acting insulin) in preset quantities at programmable times. You can also get pre-filled insulin syringes to use. 

Now there are many different kinds of insulin available, making it easier to control your condition. You can get:

  • Rapid-acting insulin – it works between 2.5–20 minutes of injection, and its effects last up to 5 hours. 
  • Long-acting insulin – this starts working after about 30 minutes. This insulin can be taken once (rarely twice a day) as its effects last for 24 hours.
  • Intermediate-acting insulin – this is background or basal insulin. It takes effect 60–90 minutes after injection and can last for up to 24 hours. 
  • Mixed insulin – many different premixed variations of rapid or short-acting insulin with intermediate-acting insulin are available. 

Depending on a variety of factors, including your sugar levels, your doctor may prescribe one or more insulin types.

Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Your doctor may prescribe one or more medications for treatment to get the sugar levels under control. These may include:

  • Metformin – works by reducing the liver formation of glucose and improving glucose sensitivity.
  • Sulfonylureas – increase the formation of insulin.
  • Glinides – help the pancreas make more insulin faster than sulfonylureas.
  • Thiazolidinediones – enhance insulin sensitivity.
  • DPP-4 inhibitors – work by reducing blood sugar levels.
  • GLP-1 receptor agonists – work by slowing digestion and lowering sugar.
  • SGLT2 inhibitors – stop the return of glucose from urine into the bloodstream.

As a last resort, you may be prescribed some insulin if the medicine is not helping you sufficiently. 

Treatment for Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes can put both the mother and baby at risk. When diagnosed, it is usually treated by a combination of diet and exercise. However, if sugar levels do not meet the required criteria, you may be prescribed metformin or insulin injections. 

At the same time, blood sugar monitoring on a regular basis is necessary since sugar levels fluctuate as the pregnancy advances. After the birth of the baby, gestational diabetes usually resolves on its own. Although the blood sugar levels often return to normal after the birth of the baby, women with a history of gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in subsequent years, so attention to prevention with lifestyle modification is very important for women who previously had gestational diabetes. 

Treatment for Type 1.5 Diabetes

This kind of diabetes is usually treated with non-insulin medicine initially. As the disease progresses, it can advance to type 1 diabetes, when you need insulin instead of or in addition to the non-insulin medication. This form takes a long time (many months or even years) to turn from type 1 to type 2. 

No matter the kind of diabetes you have, diet and exercise have an essential role to play in managing the disease. Additionally, regular monitoring of blood sugar levels is crucial so that you catch any signs of high blood sugar at an early stage and modify your treatment measures, insulin intake, or diet as required.

Uncontrolled blood glucose levels can lead to many complications, including neuropathies that are often irreversible and cause organ damage. Diabetes mellitus is also a causative factor in cardiovascular problems like heart disease and stroke. 

Key takeaways:

  • Diabetes affects millions – you may have undiagnosed diabetes or pre-diabetes without knowing it.
  • Be knowledgeable about the common symptoms of diabetes – different forms are still present with similar symptoms.
  • Different types of diabetes can be managed – taking the right medications or insulin at the correct timings, watching your diet, and indulging in exercise are healthy ways of managing the condition. 
  • Beware of its complications – diabetes mellitus, if not well-controlled, can cause organ damage, neuropathies and put you at greater risk of many serious diseases.  

Hypoglycemia is a condition that is defined by low blood sugar levels in your blood. If you have diabetes, you need to know what exactly low glucose levels are and how you can deal with them. Low sugar levels can be debilitating, if not downright dangerous. 

How Hypoglycemia Occurs

Diabetes is diagnosed when blood sugar levels are very high. If you have type 1 diabetes, you will have to take insulin externally. If you have type 2 diabetes, your doctor will prescribe medicine to increase your insulin naturally. 

You may be given one or more medications, depending on various factors such as whether your body produces less insulin or your body is not sensitive to the insulin it makes. The overall aim is to regularize blood glucose levels.

Hypoglycemia, or when the blood sugar goes below normal, is a risk for all people with diabetes as their insulin levels are artificially controlled. For most people with diabetes, the blood glucose level lower than 70mg/dL signals the condition, although it can vary.

You can get diabetes-related hypoglycemia if you:

  • Have not eaten enough
  • Have taken too much insulin
  • Have eaten a low carbohydrate meal
  • Drank alcohol without eating for a long time
  • Took medications that interact with the food/insulin and cause low sugar
  • Increased or intensified physical activity like exercise
  • Are sick and eat less
  • Are more sensitive to temperature changes in the weather
  • Are under stress

Often just one factor or a combination leads to hypoglycemia. 

How to Know When Your Sugar Levels Are Low

When you have diabetes, it is important that you balance the insulin available in your body with your food intake. It makes eminent sense that you test your sugar levels regularly. At the same time, you should be aware of the symptoms of hypoglycemia such as:

  • Shakiness or tremors
  • Sweating
  • Extreme hunger
  • Palpitations
  • Arrhythmia
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty in focusing or concentrating
  • Blurred vision
  • Mood changes
  • Skin tingling
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Insomnia or restless sleep

If hypoglycemia is not immediately treated, you can suffer from fainting, seizures, or even go into a coma as sugar levels drop. 

What Is a Hypoglycemic Attack?

The brain is the center of all thoughts and the management of bodily processes and systems. So when you feel confused, shaky, or experience other symptoms of hypoglycemia, it signifies that the brain is not getting the glucose it needs. Additionally, you may have extra adrenaline in your body because of this, which can cause sweating, anxiety, and rapid heartbeat. 

When you experience one or more symptoms of low blood sugar, you have a hypoglycemic attack or episode. If you have diabetes, it is important that people you generally interact with, such as your family, friends, work colleagues, are aware that you have diabetes. 

If you suddenly have a hypoglycemic attack that causes you to faint or have seizures, they should know what to do. Hypoglycemia can be easily taken care of in the early stages; however, it’s best to go to the emergency room at a hospital in the later stages.

How to Take Care of an Episode of Hypoglycemia

If you catch hypoglycemia early enough, you can take care of yourself. If possible, check your blood sugar level first, but you can still take steps to get over the episode if you don’t have the monitor. You should:

  • Have a half cup of any sweet fruit juice or beverage with sugar
  • Take 3–4 glucose tablets (you should always carry these with you)
  • Take instant glucose gel, 1 tube 
  • Have some fresh or dried fruit
  • Snack on a granola bar
  • Have some pretzels or cookies

You should be getting 15–20g of carbohydrates, and this should be sufficient to stabilize your sugar levels. If you test after 15 minutes and the glucose levels are still low, you should consume more drinks or food till you feel normal. 

If you suffer from frequent hypoglycemic attacks, you should talk to your doctor about getting a glucagon kit. This is an injectable form of glucagon for when you are unable to swallow. You and your family should know how to use this in an emergency. 

How You Can Prevent Hypoglycemia 

Whether or not you are prone to lower sugar levels, it’s essential to know how to prevent hypoglycemia. Normally, a person with diabetes attempts to normalize sugar levels through insulin or medicine that increases insulin in the body. The vital word here is “normalize” – you don’t want high sugar levels (hyperglycemia). And you definitely don’t want low blood glucose.

To keep your diabetes at bay and prevent it from its extremes, you should:

  • Monitor your sugar levels regularly.
  • Change medicines or dosage or medicines, if required, under medical advice.
  • Eat food at regular intervals.
  • Ensure that you have carbohydrates.
  • Don’t keep long gaps between meals.
  • Avoid alcohol or restrict its intake as far as possible.
  • Don’t undertake an intensive exercise or weight loss program without consulting a doctor.
  • If you go to any doctor or hospital for an unrelated medical problem, inform them about your diabetes so that necessary precautions are taken and you don’t suffer from hypoglycemia due to wrong medications.
  • Keep glucose tablets and snacks handy for longer gaps between meals.
  • Take your diabetic medications regularly.
  • Be consistent with your meals and medicine intake.
  • Go for regular medical check-ups.

It can be a delicate balance between medicine, food, and activities that keep your sugar levels under control. And you need to ensure that you can maintain the balance so that you don’t get hypoglycemia. 

Key takeaways: 

  • People with diabetes who take medication that can cause hypoglycemia (insulin, sulfonylureas, or glinides) are at constant risk of low blood glucose levels. You need to fine-tune the balance between food, insulin, activity, and medicine. When these are not in sync, your sugar levels can go down.
  • Be knowledgeable about low blood sugar symptoms – shakiness, tremors, weakness, hunger, mental confusion are some of them. If sugar levels go drastically low, you can faint or even go into a diabetic coma. 
  • Keep sweets handy – glucose tablets or fruit juice can help combat symptoms of low blood sugar quickly and effectively if you take them immediately.
  • Manage your diabetes – monitor glucose levels regularly and go to a doctor if you are prone to hypoglycemia. 

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a dangerous and possibly fatal complication of diabetes. If you have type 1 diabetes and take insulin, you are at greater risk of developing this condition when sugar levels go high. However, it might also occur for people with other diabetes forms and might even be one of the first symptoms for those who haven’t been diagnosed yet. 

On average, there are over 200,000 cases of ketoacidosis annually in the United States. It is not to be taken lightly – it should be rightly treated as a medical emergency. You need to be under hospital treatment if you have symptoms of DKA.

What Happens When You Have Diabetic ketoacidosis and Why?

When you have this complication of diabetes, you will have high blood sugar and ketones in the urine and blood. This can happen quite suddenly over a period of 24 hours or less. 

If you have type 1 diabetes and have not taken insulin in a sufficient quantity or missed one or more doses, you are at risk of DKA. When you don’t have enough insulin, the glucose available from food cannot be used for energy. This causes the liver to break down fat into ketones in an effort to use the energy from fat. 

As ketone production goes up, the ketones are excreted in the urine, and the blood turns acidic. This happens rapidly and causes ketoacidosis. Under normal circumstances, when your diabetes is under control, or you don’t have diabetes, the liver breaks down fat very slowly, and the ketones produced are actually used by the heart and muscles. 

High blood sugar, too fast breaking down of fat, high production of ketones all contribute to DKA. 

What Causes Ketoacidosis in Diabetes?

You are diagnosed with diabetes when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal. There are many causative factors of this serious and life-threatening condition. 

Diabetic ketoacidosis can occur due to varied reasons such as: 

  • Not enough insulin in the body
  • Certain medications that trigger DKA (steroids, antipsychotics)
  • You don’t know that you have type 1 diabetes – DKA can be the first sign of insulin-dependent diabetes
  • You experience some physical stress like infection or illness
  • Stroke, heart attack, or pancreatitis can also cause DKA
  • Drinking a lot of alcohol 
  • Indulging in high doses of narcotic drugs like cocaine

If you have undiagnosed diabetes, you must look out for signs and symptoms that could potentially signal this condition. In case you’ve already been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you should be aware of the warning signs of DKA, so you can take action quickly. 

At any time, if you are ill or have a serious infection, do inform your doctor about your diabetes. You should also be wary about taking medicine and supplements on your own, even supposedly natural and herbal products, as they can interact with any diabetic medications and cause problems. 

What Are the Warning Signs of Diabetic ketoacidosis?

Even though diabetic ketoacidosis can develop suddenly, if you experience some of the symptoms together and you know you have diabetes, do contact your medical service provider or rush to the hospital. Some of the signs are:

  • Sudden abdominal pain 
  • Extremely frequent urination
  • Severe thirst
  • Smelly urine that signifies the presence of ketones
  • Fruity smelling breath
  • Red or flushed face
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid breathing or panting for breath
  • Dry skin
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion 
  • Falling blood pressure

If you don’t know whether you have diabetes, you should also take greater care and, at the first signs, check with your medical advisor or do a blood sugar test. 

What Organs Are Affected by Ketoacidosis?

Your body and your brain can be affected by DKA. As you continue to urine often, you can get dehydrated, and this can affect your kidneys and cause organ damage. DKA also affects the brain, causing confusion and irritability. You may act as if you are drunk and lose your sense of balance and control over your emotions. Your mental state may also be affected. 

Internal swelling can happen in your brain due to excess fluid build-up, resulting in cerebral edema or fluid in the brain. Fluid build-up can also affect your lungs, causing heavy breathing and shortness of breath. 

As ketones increase, you can suffer from a heart attack or stroke, or you can also fall into a coma. 

Before any of these complications happen, take steps to normalize your blood glucose levels. If you are in a bad state, rush to the emergency room or call 911. 

Prevention of Diabetic ketoacidosis

It is absolutely crucial that you manage your diabetes, no matter the type. As far as possible, avoid getting your sugar levels too high or too low. As a matter of course, you should:

  1. Monitor your blood sugar levels regularly. If you’re doing fine on your medications and insulin but experience any kind of stress or trauma, check your sugar. If you overeat, miss a meal, drink alcohol, or do anything that will affect your glucose levels, just check. You can get really small and portable monitors that you can keep with you. You can even get ones that use smartphones for checking and tracking. 
  2. While exercise is very good to manage diabetes, make sure that you suddenly don’t over-exercise or indulge in strenuous physical activity. 
  3. Eat regularly and have meals that are generally with a low glycemic load. 
  4. Check ketone levels via a urine test, available at most pharmacies. Any time you feel that you are urinating very often or have ketones in the urine, just check. 
  5. Adjust insulin intake if necessary. Or talk to your doctor if you note any symptoms of high blood sugar.

If you feel that your sugar levels are high, you don’t have access to a sugar monitor or insulin and experience symptoms of DKA, just go to the emergency room. 

How Is Diabetic ketoacidosis Diagnosed?

Apart from testing your blood sugar levels, you will probably have to undergo a number of tests for a definitive diagnosis: 

  • Blood sugar test to check the levels of blood sugar
  • A urine test may show ketones in the urine
  • Arterial blood test for gas in the blood may show that the blood is acidic
  • Electrolyte level check
  • Blood pressure is a basic test
  • A chest x-ray for breathing-related problems and to rule out pneumonia
  • Electrocardiogram to check the effect of ketoacidosis on the heart
  • Kidney function test

These tests may be repeated as required and as your condition stabilizes and improves. 

What Are the Treatment Options of DKA?

Even if you’re treated in a hospital, you should be aware of the treatment protocols. The aim of the treatment is to get you out of diabetic ketoacidosis as quickly as possible. So you will be given fluids, either orally (if you can take them) or via I.V. so that your body is no longer dehydrated. Hydration is an important method to reduce hyperglycemia.

You will be given insulin so that your blood sugar levels normalize. These should be below 240mg/dL.

Electrolyte imbalance often occurs with DKA. As sodium and potassium levels are not normal, they can affect the functioning of your body. You will be given electrolytes, again via I.V. 

Key takeaways:

  • Diabetes invariably carries some risks – diabetic ketoacidosis is a complication when you are severely hyperglycemic. It can occur if you have undiagnosed or poorly controlled diabetes.
  • Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of DKA – when you know what the signs of this complication are, you can take steps to save your health and prevent organ damage or worse.
  • Always aim to keep blood sugar levels under control – balance your insulin or medications, your diet, and activity levels and monitor your blood sugar levels regularly, several times a day, if necessary, so that you can manage your diabetes better.