In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), diet is customized to individual lifestyle, body type, physical condition, age, and season. According to TCM, diabetes occurs when there is a deficiency of Yin and an excess of internal heat. They recommend consuming foods like spinach, which they regard as cooling. It strengthens all the organs and promotes urination.

Vegetables and grains recommendations include celery, pumpkin, soybeans, string beans, sweet potato, turnips, tomato, wheat bran, and millet; fruits like crab apple, guava, plum strawberry, and mulberry, along with seasonal fruit and vegetables. Meal size should be small, and meals should be frequent. (Covington, M.B., 2001).

If you compare current diet recommendations with those prescribed in Ayurveda and TCM, principally, they are similar with minor differences. The stress in all diets is on leafy vegetables, low-carb food, unprocessed grain, and low-sugar fruit.

Most diets for people with diabetes do not recommend dairy and dairy products. Modern studies that place the gut at the center of disease management would add fermented foods supplemented with probiotic bacteria to the diet. These additions help build microbiota and are critical to prevent insulin resistance and improving the general endocrine balance in the body.

To sum up, the diet for diabetics should be low fat, low sugar, rich in vegetables and less sweet fruit, no dairy products, and rich in dietary fiber. Ayurvedic and TCM diets are not too different from those recommended by modern diabetologists.

According to the American Diabetes Association, nutrient-dense foods are the best for individuals who have diabetes. These foods are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals but low in added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats.

These nutrients are available in non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, beans, lettuce, cucumbers, and the like. These should be consumed as far as a possible whole and minimally processed.

Apple, cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries, brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta, and oatmeal are other food recommendations.

A diabetic diet can include starchy vegetables like corn, green peas, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, plantain, black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, and green lentils.

Avoid refined, highly processed carbohydrate foods, foods with added sugar, sugary drinks like soda, sweet tea or coffee, juice, white bread, white rice, sugary cereal, sweets, and snack foods like cake, cookies, candy, and chips. Nuts like peanuts, walnuts, and almonds have a lot of fiber and healthy fat. Keep the portion size small, as these contain a lot of calories.

Similar recommendations are made by the Diabetes body in the UK too. While both of these bodies do not prohibit the consumption of fish, meat, chicken, and dairy, they do not also expressly support their use.

Dr. Neal Barnard, associate professor of medicine at George Washington School of Medicine, recommends a vegan diet to people with diabetes. According to him, a vegan diet can even reverse diabetes. (Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes published his book in 2007)

Additional reading:

Natural Solutions for Diabetes

Natural Solutions tri-series


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