Three food groups to ‘limit’ or ‘avoid’ to reduce your risk of diabetes – expert

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

Poor dietary and lifestyle choices can lay the groundwork for type 2 diabetes, which is characterised by high levels of sugar in your blood.

Claire Lynch, a diabetes expert from Plant Based Health Professionals, said: “When considering which foods ‘help diabetes’, it is also worth mentioning foods that are best avoided, due to the harm they cause in relation to diabetes development and progression.”

Worryingly, consuming certain foods in excess can lead to insulin resistance, which could be a stepping stone to the blood sugar condition.

Lynch said: “It is important to note that type 2 diabetes develops as a result of insulin resistance, which is where the body can no longer respond to increasing levels of insulin, which in turn causes increased levels of blood glucose.”

With this in mind, the expert outlined the foods that you should either “limit” or “avoid” to minimise your risk of this happening.

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Red and processed meat

While the likes of sausages, bacon and ham are beloved by the nation, they don’t have a great reputation when it comes to health.

“There are a number of compounds that are present in meat, that we know to be harmful to the body and implicated in the development of diabetes,” Lynch said.

From nitrates to saturated fat, red and processed meat contain compounds that spell no good news for your health as well as your diabetes risk.

The expert added: “All of these compounds, or their end products, have been associated with causing either oxidative stress, inflammation or direct cell damage, or a combination of these, leading to the development of insulin resistance.”

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Refined and fried foods

Whether it’s chunky chips or greasy chicken nuggets, fried foods are high in fat and contain some “harmful substances”, such as advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that are formed in high levels during the cooking of animal foods, the expert shared.

Lynch said: “Refined foods such as cakes, biscuits, pastries, sugary cereals, and sugar-sweetened beverages, have had most of the healthy fibre and micronutrients stripped away, and harmful artificial chemicals added, such as flavourings, preservatives, sweeteners and emulsifiers. 

“Some of these added compounds are harmful to your gut bacteria which plays a significant role in your hunger signals, glucose regulation, and insulin sensitivity.

“One nutrient of note is fructose, which when added to foods in the form of table sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, is implicated in diet-induced insulin resistance.

“This ‘free fructose’, if eaten in excess, is converted into a type of fat called triglyceride, which is stored in the liver, contributing to fatty liver and insulin resistance.”

In contrast, natural fructose which can be found in fruit also comes with fibre and other “healthful” plant chemicals that are able to benefit both your gut health as well as insulin sensitivity.

The expert added: “To help improve our diabetes, we need to consider what we might want to eat along with what we might want to avoid. 

“Considering swaps and ‘crowding out’ certain foods are more positive ways to think about your dietary changes than restriction.”

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