Diabetes is a very common problem among adults, but its prevalence among children has witnessed a rise in recent times. Lifestyle choices and poor eating patterns, this condition has been observed to increase in children and teenagers. As a result, those who have diabetes need to watch what they consume very carefully. This World Diabetes Day, let’s take a look at how to manage blood sugar levels in children and help them beat Type 2 diabetes.
Health Shots reached out to nutrition expert Rohit Shelatkar, who shared some key points on how parents can help their children control their blood sugar levels. He says, “It is important to be aware of the different macronutrients, including carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids, in order to manage their blood sugar levels.”
Children who are overweight typically struggle with high blood sugar due to disturbed insulin balance. Shelatkar explains that high-calorie, sugary, and fatty diets can raise blood sugar levels, lead to insulin resistance, and lower insulin sensitivity. High sugar intake can also result in inflammation and a weakened immune system.
“Foods high in fibre can help reduce inflammation in the body, boost the immune system, and regulate blood sugar levels,” says the nutritional expert. A recent study found that drinking a small amount of whey protein before meals can help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels.
Some foods which can help children and young adults control their blood sugar levels as suggested by Shelatkar:
Apples are a fulfilling snack since they are high in fiber and vitamin C. “They contain polyphenols, plant-based chemicals with a history of preventing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Apple sugar, or fructose, has virtually little impact on blood sugar levels,” says Shelatkar.
Diabetic children can opt for carrots in their daily diet despite its sweet flavor as it can help manage blood glucose levels. Despite being high in carbohydrates, it is good for diabetes patients as carrots are non-starchy.
3. Complex carbs
The body needs more time to absorb complex carbohydrates than it does simple ones. Shelatkar explains that foods with complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and often include fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They, therefore, affect blood sugar less immediately and cause it to rise more gradually.
Include whole grains, brown rice, wild rice, oats, barley, and foods that resemble grains like quinoa. Children with diabetes should also incorporate vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, beans, and legumes like lentils, kidney beans, and chickpeas in their diets as they are all great sources of complex carbohydrates.
4. Chia seeds
Even though chia seeds are not something children will eat willingly, this is something that will be really beneficial for them. You can check out some interesting ways to include chia seeds in their diet. Healthy fats, vitamins, fibre, and antioxidants are abundant in chia seeds. According to one of the studies published in Diabetes Care, chia seeds can help lower blood sugar levels. Additionally, it lowers the risk of heart disease in type 2 diabetic individuals.
Consuming yogurt with live bacteria may aid in fighting off the disease. Additionally, a wonderful source of protein is yogurt. “Live microorganisms known as probiotics (good bacteria) aid in the defense against all types of harmful bacteria. By raising the quantity of virus fighting cells, they also aid in the battle against disease,” says Shelatkar.
Pro tip: Diabetic children should avoid processed meats because they are high in fat and salt. Additionally, it is important for them to exercise in their home through body-weight exercises or yoga and practice breathing on a regular basis. Evidence suggests that nutritious foods can help to curb sugar spikes and improve insulin resistance that may eventually lead to less dependence on medications.