Along with genetic factors, diabetes is also closely related to diet. Dr. Jonathan Liu, a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner (TCM), recommends five kinds of low glycemic index foods that help prevent various complications of diabetes, allowing people to eat safely and healthily.
The typical symptoms of diabetes are commonly known as “three Ps and one L,” that is, polyuria, polydipsia, polyphagia, and weight loss. Diabetes is often accompanied by complications, such as diabetic foot, cardiovascular disease, diabetic nephropathy (deterioration of kidney function), ketoacidosis (high levels of ketones in the blood), neuropathy (damage to peripheral nerves), eye diseases, and bacterial infection.
Dr. Liu, a professor of Chinese Medicine at Canadian Public College, told The Epoch Times that as well as genetic factors, diabetes is mostly related to eating foods that are high in sugar, salt, and oil.
Liu said that processed foods, such as sweetened beverages, cakes, and biscuits, are full of refined sugar, a monosaccharide, that causes blood sugar to rise rapidly after ingestion. Non-processed foods, such as whole grains and vegetables, are complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides), which take longer to digest and thus raise the blood sugar level more slowly. Therefore, it is very important to limit the intake of sugar in the diet and avoid high-salt and high-fat foods. He recommends eating in moderation and eating more non-processed and low glycemic index foods.
Liu pointed out that TCM can divide the condition of type 2 diabetes into 4 stages: phlegm-damp stagnation (which is completely reversible via lowering blood sugar), blood stasis (which still has a chance for treatment), deficiency (complications have begun to appear), damage (obvious damage to organs, advanced disease).
Liu recommends 5 foods with medicinal properties:
1. Bitter Melon
Bitter melon can be used for both medicine and food, which can clear away heat and dispel dampness, improve the damp-heat constitution of diabetes, and is suitable for diabetics who are in the stage of phlegm-dampness stagnation. People who are obese can eat more of it in daily life. Bitter melon can be pan-fried with meat or used in a salad.
2. Powdered Kudzu
Kudzu contains pueraria flavonoids, which can help lower blood sugar, improve blood circulation, and prevent cardiovascular disease. It is suitable for consumption in the stage of phlegm and blood stasis. It can be steamed or used to make soup.
Okra contains flavonoids along with soluble dietary fiber that can inhibit blood sugar absorption, especially reducing postprandial (after a meal) blood sugar rise. It can be cooked in water and then eaten cold.
4. Chinese Yam
Chinese yam can strengthen the spleen and replenish qi, which helps lower blood sugar. It is recommended to steam it and eat it without seasoning.
Diabetes is called an “emaciation-thirst disease” in traditional Chinese medicine. When diabetes develops to a later stage, both qi and yin are injured. Yam can not only nourish qi and yin, but also is very mild, and has no side effects even if you eat it for a long period of time.
5. Astragalus Root
Astragalus can strengthen the spleen and lungs, strengthen islet function (cells in the pancreas that produce insulin), lower blood sugar, improve diabetic neuropathy and diabetic foot, and regulate peripheral circulation. It is suitable for diabetics in the depletion stage with complications, such as peripheral neuropathy in some elderly patients, with symptoms such as peripheral paralysis and burning pain.
Liu recommends 15 grams (0.53 ounces) of astragalus, 30 grams (1.05 ounces) of Chinese yam, and 10 grams (0.35 ounces) of scrophulariaceae to drink as a tea, once a day. As Astragalus is sweet and warm in nature and yam is sweet and flat, long-term drinking can help the body feel hot and dry, and can cause dry mouth and red tongue. Therefore, adding some scrophularia with cold nature and taste to balance the tea. Scrophularia also has a blood sugar-lowering effect on diabetes with yin deficiency syndrome.
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