Contributed by: Priyaish Srivastava
Are vegan & vegetarian diets the same?
Most people tend to get confused between a vegan and a vegetarian diet. A vegetarian person avoids having animals in their meals, but they do consume animal products such as dairy and honey.
On the other hand, following a vegan diet can be described as a particular way of living in which people exclude all forms of animal foods (such as meat, fish, eggs, poultry, dairy products and even honey) from their diet. And include foods that have no connection with animals.
Studies conducted over the past few years suggest that the inclination towards a vegan diet has increased dramatically.
Not only because following a vegan diet is beneficial for the environment, but also because it brings along a host of health benefits and can also help in managing diabetes.
A vegan diet & diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic condition for which no cure has been found yet. People tend to follow different diet plans, several medications, and various lifestyle changes to avoid the aggravation of this illness.
Following a vegan diet is one such way to manage diabetes. It includes foods such as non-starchy vegetables, several types of fruits, seeds, and nuts that can aid in controlling diabetes as they tend to have a low glycaemic index (amount of glucose in a particular food) which aids in regulating blood sugar levels by preventing insulin resistance.
One important point to remember is that not all vegan foods are healthy. Processed and packed foods such as chips and candies can deteriorate the health instead of promoting it, leading to unhealthy changes in blood sugar levels.
When opting for a vegan diet, it is also necessary to keep a track of calories, protein, and fat intake. The best way to do this is by consulting your doctor and getting a diet chart prepared.
Apart from managing diabetes, a vegan diet can also:
- Aids in maintaining a healthy weight
- Reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Helps in minimizing bad cholesterol levels and increasing good cholesterol levels
- Can help boost your mood
- Promotes skin health
- Help in managing arthritis
Here are a few considerations that should be kept in mind when planning your vegan diet to manage diabetes.
Watch your protein intake
Protein is one of the most essential nutrients required for managing diabetes as it helps in improving overall glucose control. Here are a few good sources of vegan protein:
- Pulses & beans
- Soy products (tofu, soy cheese & soy milk)
- Vegetable milk (legumes & cereals milk)
- Nuts & seeds (cashew, peanut, almond & sesame seeds)
Don’t forget the essential vitamin
Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient that plays a vital role in keeping the nervous system in check and blood cells healthy.
Fulfilling the body’s requirement of this vitamin can be tough when you shift to a vegan diet. But fear not, here are some good sources of vitamin B12 for you even when following a vegan diet.
- Nutritional yeast
- Fortified soy + almond milk
- Plant-based meats
- Fortified cereals
Keep calcium levels in check
When it comes to managing diabetes, calcium is essential because it helps in the better metabolism of glucose.
Just like animal-based foods, several vegan foods can also help in maintaining sufficient calcium levels. Here are a few of them:
- Red kidney beans
- Soy foods
- Sesame, chia & flax seeds
The omega-3 fatty acid is vital
The omega-3 fatty acid is an essential nutrient that helps in managing body weight and blood sugar levels simultaneously. Some vegan foods loaded with this nutrient include:
- Soy foods such as soy milk & tofu
Zinc it up
Zinc is an important mineral required to manage diabetes as it helps in controlling glucose levels. To ensure that you get a sufficient amount of zinc, here are a few vegan food options:
- Legumes such as lentils, beans & chickpeas
- Nuts & seeds
Diabetes is a chronic condition that requires lifelong management. According to experts, having a vegan diet is one of the best ways to ensure that blood glucose levels remain under control.
Most people think that a vegan diet might not be able to fulfil the nutrient requirements of the body, which is wrong.
The above-mentioned are five essential nutrients with their vegan food options that can help in managing the condition.
Furthermore, you should also opt for regular diabetes screening. This preventive step can help in keeping an eye on blood sugar levels, allowing you to take necessary measures to avoid any complications and stay at the top of your health.