|Dr. Eno Nsima-Obot, MD
Functional Medicine Doctor
Type 2 Diabetes expert
Diets that are personalized to the individual work best, but there are general diets that are more suited to preventing and reversing type 2 diabetes. A study at Indiana University showed that type II diabetes patients were able to maintain normal blood sugar levels by following a low-carb ketogenic diet. Low carb diets, and there are several kinds, are usually best for reversing diabetes and make the most sense for the majority of pre-diabetic and diabetic people.
A low carb diet for someone who already has high blood sugar may need to be low as 50 grams a day. This should come primarily from vegetables and a small portion of whole grains. Although this is a low amount it is doable once you get into the swing of things.
Even without high blood sugar, a low carb lifestyle is actually something we all should be looking into. Excessive carbohydrates do cause a spike in insulin. If you eat a high carb meal, once you digest your food you get hungry again and crave more sugars. Most of us are constantly living on this sugar roller-coaster.
Foods Options for Type 2 Diabetes
In general, some good foods to eat on a type 2 diabetes diet would include:
- Complex carbs
- Low glycemic index foods
- Fruits in moderation
- Whole grains
You can have fruits in moderation because along with sugars you are getting a lot of fiber. Fruit juices should be avoided because they have been stripped of the fiber.
Fiber is very important to regulating blood sugar. Most people who eat the standard American diet eat only an average of 15 grams of fiber a day and that’s not enough. You are likely to see a dramatic increase in your health by increasing your fiber to above 25 or even 30 grams per day.
Other great diet options for treating diabetes are plant-based diets and the ever-popular Mediterranean diet.
As functional medicine practitioner, I avoid using the word ‘diet’ as this can not only be a trigger for some people, but it also connotes a quick fix. We are focusing on lifestyle changes. So we use the word ‘food plans’, because we use food as medicine. Whole food is not only nutritious but it also has healing properties.
So, when it comes to food plans there are lots of options. In order to produce the best results, these options ideally are personalized to each person’s needs.
However, across the board certain foods need to be reduced and if possible avoided.
- Refined carbohydrates, like white bread, pasta, and foods high in sugar
- Sugar-sweetened beverages, like soda
- Foods high on the glycemic index
A diagnosis of diabetes is really an invitation to a healthy lifestyle because now you have to focus on healthy eating and metabolic changes. You can thrive with type 2 diabetes.
The Role Intermittent Fasting Plays in Blood Sugar Control
Fasting is something I think we really need to begin to highlight and it’s usually not that hard. Fasting allows a break from feeding. There are many benefits to fasting.
You can start by fasting 12 to 18 hours at a time. If you stop eating at 7 pm and don’t eat again until after 7 am then you have easily completed a 12 hour fast. A few times a week you can stretch that to 18 hours and now you are intermittently fasting.
Now, here is a word of caution. If you are on oral medications or insulin, then fasting is probably not going to work for you because a drop in blood sugar can cause hypoglycemia which is dangerous, so always consult your physician before doing any fasting or change in diet.
Natural Supplements for Type 2 Diabetes
There are several supplements that can help with blood sugar control. However, I caution people against going out there and just picking up supplements. It is advisable to work with a qualified functional medicine practitioner to select the supplements that are right for you.
Having said that, these are some dietary supplements that generally work for a lot of people who are trying to thrive with type II diabetes:
- Berberine – some consider it to be just as good as Metformin, it can help to naturally decrease blood sugar
- Cinnamon – shown in studies to help improve blood sugar levels due to its insulin-like effect. Use a good quality cinnamon powder, sprinkle it on yogurt, oats, black coffee, etc.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid – a powerful antioxidant that has also shown to be effective for type II diabetes
- Chromium – a beneficial trace mineral has been shown to reduce insulin resistance 
- Polyphenols – found in green tea and dark chocolate (use at least 85% cacao)
- Minerals – may also help for glycemic control, make sure to include magnesium as we are all generally deficient in it
- Vitamin D – ask your doctor to check your level and if you have type 2 diabetes try to get your levels over 50.
Additional Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Tactics
Should someone without pre-diabetes be worried about their blood sugar? According to CDC, 1 in 3 US adults has prediabetes.
Considering this, it is best to take action now. We are more resilient when younger, so even if you have normal blood sugar, try as best as possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A teenager can drink sugary coffee or eat hamburgers and it seems like nothing happens, but we are only resilient to a certain point and then the accumulation of this diet and lifestyle begins to deteriorate us. I recommend starting now and trying as best as possible to incorporate a healthy lifestyle.
Avoid the sedentary lifestyle. There is a saying that sitting is the new smoking. Movement is very important in prevention. It not only aids in weight loss but helps control stress and contributes to you getting more sleep. Studies have shown that resistance training (weight training) improves your insulin resistance. .
Focus on your stress, sleep, and diet. See your doctor regularly to monitor your blood sugar. With a little bit of effort, you can prevent type 2 diabetes from happening to you.
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