Statistics have shown that Nigeria has the highest indices of diabetes in Sub-Saharan Africa, with about five million people currently living with the condition, which is the number six leading cause of death globally.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), diabetes is a chronic disease caused by the body’s inability to produce required amounts of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar or to efficiently use the insulin it produces, which results to type 1 and type 2 diabetes respectively.WHO noted that over the past decade, the prevalence of diabetes has risen faster in low and middle-income countries.
While, the Minster of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole lamented over its increase in Nigeria, stating that the country constitute a quarter of 15 million cases of diabetes in Africa, noting that one in every 11 adults had diabetes and up to half of these, that is, about 50 percent of the cases were undiagnosed.Diabetes is a health condition that cause 80 percent of its victims to die of cardiovascular complications ranging from stroke, myocardial infarction, blindness, kidney failure and foot gangrene, which leads to limb amputation, in addition to other long-term consequences, if not well controlled.
One way to control this blood sugar is to eat a healthful diet. And in generally, foods and drinks that the body absorbs slowly are best because they do not cause spikes and dips in blood sugar.Meanwhile, the glycemic index (GI) measures the effects of specific foods on blood sugar levels and people looking to control their levels could pick foods with low or medium GI scores, as well as pair foods with low and high GI scores to ensure that a meal is balanced.
Below are some of the best foods for people looking to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. They include:
Sweet potatoes and yams
Regular potatoes have a high GI score, but sweet potatoes and yams have low scores and are very nutritious.Research indicates that the flesh of the sweet potato contains more fiber than the skin, indicating that the whole vegetable could be beneficial for those that are diabetic.
While there is still no conclusive evidence that sweet potatoes can help to stabilize or lower blood sugar levels in humans, they are undoubtedly a healthful, nutritious food with a low GI score, as people can substitute sweet potatoes or yams for potatoes in a variety of dishes, from fries to casseroles.
Oatmeal and oat bran
Oats contain B-glucans, which help maintain glycemic control and have a GI score of 55 or lower, making them less likely to cause spikes and dips in blood sugar levels.Oats also contain B-glucans, which can reduce glucose and insulin responses after meals, improve insulin sensitivity, help maintain glycemic control and reduce blood lipids (fats)
Whole wheat or pumpernickel bread
Pumpernickel has a low GI score and fewer carbs than other breads.Studies revealed that many types of bread are high in carbohydrates and quickly raise blood sugar levels and as a result should be avoided.However, pumpernickel bread and 100 percent stone-ground whole wheat bread have low GI scores, at 55 or less on the GI scale.
Except for pineapples and melons, most fruits have low GI scores of 55 or less.This is because most fruits contain lots of water and fiber to balance out their naturally occurring sugar, which is called fructose.
Nuts are very rich in dietary fiber and have GI scores of 55 or less. It also contains high levels of plant proteins, unsaturated fatty acids, and other nutrients, including: antioxidant vitamins, phytochemicals, such as flavonoids, minerals, including magnesium and potassium
Legumes, such as beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils, have very low GI scores.They are also a good source of nutrients that can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. These nutrients include:A 2012 study found that incorporating legumes into the diet improved glycemic control and lowered the risk of coronary heart disease in people with type 2 diabetes.
Garlic is a popular ingredient in traditional medicines for diabetes and a wide variety of other conditions.The compounds in garlic may help reduce blood sugar by improving insulin sensitivity and secretion.
Cold-water fish may help manage or prevent diabetes better than other types of meat.Cod does not contain carbohydrates and may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Eating plain yogurt daily may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.Authors of a large 2014 meta-analysis concluded that yogurt might be the only dairy product that lowers the risk of developing the condition. They also noted that other dairy products do not seem to increase a person’s risk.However, plain yogurt is generally a low-GI food. Most unsweetened yogurts have a GI score of 50 or less.