Posted on Mar 5, 2020 in Senior Tips
According to a 2017 CDC Report, 9.4% of Americans over 65 have diabetes. For seniors with diabetes, this condition can lead to other chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, and obesity.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, what is diabetes?
When we eat, our body converts food into glucose for energy. For our body to use energy, our body produces a hormone called insulin.
Insulin enables glucose to enter cells to be used as energy. Without insulin, the glucose builds up in the blood to such levels that it causes hyperglycemia.
By contrast, if blood sugars get too low, this can cause hypoglycemia. This occurs when too much insulin is produced.
There are two main types of diabetes:
There is much confusion between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The primary difference is that type 1 diabetes can only be controlled by taking insulin via oral medication or injection.
Type 2 diabetes can be controlled and put into remission with diet and exercise.
Unfortunately, sufferers of type 1 diabetes cannot control it with diet. Despite this, they must still eat healthily to prevent their blood sugar levels from getting too high.
When shopping for seniors with diabetes, you must understand which foods can regulate their blood sugar.
The Glycemic Index (GI) measures, on a scale of 0-100, how quickly or slowly a food raises blood sugar levels. Foods that are absorbed slowly have a low GI value.
However, it’s essential to understand that the Glycemic Index only accounts for the speed at which food raises blood sugar. It does not account for different types of carbohydrate content which can affect how quickly food is absorbed.
The Glycemic Load tells us how much blood sugar will spike per portion and the type of carbohydrate that food contains.
Foods with a low Glycemic Load score below 10. A score of 10-19 is given to food with a moderate glycemic load, and anything over 20 indicates a high GL.
For example, a raw carrot has a glycemic index of 92, pretty high. But, it has a low Glycemic Load (GL) of 1 due to its carbohydrate and fiber content.
The American Diabetes Association recommends using carbohydrate content rather than GI or Glycemic Load as it’s simpler. It’s also a more reliable way of assessing how a food will affect blood sugar levels.
There are two types of carbohydrates: complex carbohydrates and simple sugars.
Diabetics are advised to eat complex carbohydrates as they have a low glycemic index. This means that they are digested more slowly. This prevents blood sugar levels from going too high. Simple sugars found in candy and processed foods can cause rapid blood sugar spikes.
If your elderly loved one has diabetes, it’s essential to keep their blood sugar stable. Nutritionists recommend seniors eat healthy diets such as vegetarian, vegan, paleo, or Mediterranean diets.
Make sure your elderly loved one eats nutrient-rich food with a low GI if they struggle with diabetes.
Research has shown that fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel all have a positive impact on blood sugar levels.
Fruit and vegetables have been proven to have a positive effect on type 2 diabetes. They should form the basis of a diabetic diet. Non-starchy veggies are best as they have low glycemic content.
Vegetables ideal for diabetics include green leafy vegetables, yellow vegetables, broccoli, and cauliflower.
Berries such as strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, and blueberries are also great for diabetics as they have high water and fiber content.
Yogurt is proven to stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol levels in diabetics. Greek yogurt is particularly beneficial due to its fat and protein content.
A 2018 study found that diabetics who eat eggs regularly experienced steadier blood sugar levels.
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which is useful for treating and preventing diabetes. Research scientists are currently developing a supercurcumin as a health supplement because it is so effective.
Nutritionists regularly advise anyone with type 2 diabetes to incorporate nuts into their daily diet. Nuts contain high levels of polyunsaturated fats. When eaten over time, nuts help to regulate insulin production.
Whole-grains are ideal for diabetics due to their high-fiber content and release glucose into the bloodstream slowly. Types of whole-grains include:
Since couscous has a glycemic load of over 20, this is not ideal for diabetics.
Any foods with a high Glycemic Load of over 20 should be avoided.
Foods with a high GL include candy, dried fruit, white bread, white pasta, pizza, French fries, and baked potatoes.
If you’re concerned about seniors with diabetes in your life, why not give us a call here at Landmark Senior Living? If your elderly loved one might benefit from assisted living with all their dietary needs taken care of, we’ll arrange a free tour of the nearest active senior living community.