To explain diabetes very simply we can say that it means excess of sugar in blood. There are three reasons for that: pancreas secretes less insulin or no insulin and the secreted insulin is ineffective to do its metabolic function, which is to send the glucose inside the cells for the production of energy.

Insufficient insulin secretion causes increase of blood sugar, thirst and excessive urination, fatigue and cardiovascular and kidney damage.

There are two types of diabetes. In type-1 there is no secretion of insulin and the patients must take insulin injection. In type-2 insulin is there but this is resistant and not able to do its function.

Age, weight and physical activity also play a role in type-2 but we should not also forget the hereditary factor.

Whatever you eat, there is an effect on your blood sugar because carbohydrate is inevitable in our food. We must select the food correctly so that we can have a control on the blood sugar.

There are many effects of food on diabetes. Food can also act in a helpful manner by supporting insulin or decreasing the sugar by itself.

Antioxidants from food can bring the free radicals under control so that the beta cells in pancreas are not damaged. Carbohydrates and excessive sweets increase the blood sugar value very sharply.

The allergic reaction to food constituents in type 1 are much delayed, e.g. protein in milk.

People regularly eating fish have only 50% of the risk to get diabetes than the people who do not eat fish normally. The food which contains a lot of saturated fat gives problems. Overweight and obesity are risk factors for diabetes type-2.

Broccoli is rich in chromium and chromium supports the insulin and the sugar value is reduced. Nuts, barley, mushrooms, whole grains, yeast, tea and broccoli are the foods rich in chromium.

Fenugreek is well known for its action against sugar and cholesterol, both are lowered. But you must be careful if you have only high blood pressure or diabetes.

Cinnamon also has the effect to lower blood sugar.

Legumes which have complex carbohydrates and high fibre also lower cholesterol as well as sugar.

The diluted juice of bitter gourd helps to reduce the blood sugar but the exact mechanism behind this action is not clearly known.

It is better to take food high in antioxidants such as vitamin C, E and beta-carotene. Sugar metabolism produces harmful free radicals and these must be scavenged from our body, otherwise they can oxidize LDL.

To prevent type-1 diabetes, avoid dairy products to the babies at least till they become one year old.

To prevent type-2 diabetes, you must reduce weight and do more physical work. Eat fish, nuts, legumes, whole grain food and food containing antioxidants.

If you have diabetes, contact your doctor or dietician for a course which will inform you clearly the connection between diabetes and food. Whole grain food, boiled rice, potato, legumes including soy beans, noodles, fish and lean meat are the better food.

Whenever I talk to persons about fruits, the topic touches always fructose (commonly known as fruit sugar in India) and they do not know what it is exactly. Fructose is not alone present in the fruits. Glucose, fructose and sucrose are present in fruits in different amounts and that makes it difficult to say how much sugar is present in a fruit. To take banana as example, here approximately 50% sugar and 50% fructose is present in it. Fructose is metabolized through liver and has nothing to do with insulin and sugar metabolism.

It is also important to know that too much of fructose is harmful to the liver and thus to your health. Sucrose has sugar and fructose in equal amounts.

What is the correct diabetic food? About 40 to 60% of total calories come from carbohydrates
Less than 20% from mono and polyunsaturated fats
Less than 10% from saturated fat, for example animal fat and plant fat
It is not easy to take the necessary amount of food that contains the required quantity of fibre daily. But this is the optimum.

It sounds so easy and you may ask where the problem is? Each diabetes patient is different. He has different weight, his job is different, his physical activity is different and his stress is different.

One is lucky because his wife manages the whole diet very good. The other is a single woman or man. We cannot make a general diet plan. The plan must be individual and tailor made. This makes the whole thing difficult.

The second important problem in the management of diabetes is the fat metabolism. Excess sugar is converted in the liver to fat, the triglyceride and excess fructose is also converted into triglyceride. Apart from this excess protein is converted in the liver to sugar. In turn this sugar is also converted to triglyceride. Now, you know why the diet plan must be tailor made.

With an individual diet plan and a good explanation to the patient diabetes is very good manageable for decades.