Making well informed food choices is the key to staying healthy, feeling active and managing your diabetes in monsoons
As the mercury level shoots up, it is accompanied by a lot of heat, sweat and high humidity leaving you exhausted, de-energized and drained. People with diabetes can be extra sensitive to high temperatures. But there is nothing to worry if you are a diabetic because you do not have to eat special foods or be excluded from what everyone else is eating. Making well informed food choices is the key to staying healthy, feeling active and managing your diabetes in summer. It is time to doll up your refrigerator with all the healthy and fresh foods to beat the heat and enjoy a funfilled summer and the rainfed monsoons.
Dr. Shalini Jaggi, Diabetologist, Delhibased Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute says, “They can play the role of a sunscreen quite perfectly in summers. In fact tomatoes give a little extra defence from the blazing summer sun with the help of their lycopene and carotenoid
content that makes them red in colour. Eat them raw or prepared, tomatoes are nutritious in both their natural and cooked states. Being considered among the non-starchy fruits, a diabetes patient can eat as much as possible to satisfy his or her appetite.” According to Ayurveda, foods like tomatoes have a sour rasa (amla rasa). Lime, citrus fruits, tamarind, and kokum are other foods which have amla rasa. Such items contain earth and fire and help to improve taste and keep the mind in control. Sour taste aids digestion, awakens consciousness and has a mildly warming effect on the body as a whole. Small amounts of amla rasa convey a refreshing sense of realism. It is believed to have a wake up quality.
These are yellow in colour and are a fabulous source of vitamin C, vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin. Summer Squash can be a regular component of a healthy diet for people with diabetes to control blood sugar levels.
Eggplants are a rich source of fibre and low soluble carbohydrates. Thus, they contribute highly in regulating blood sugar levels and also in controlling the absorption of glucose. This makes them the best option for people suffering from type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Jaggi mentions, “Bell peppers belong to the family of capsicums and are present in a variety of colours most commonly green, red and yellow. They are enriched with important vitamins and minerals, including more than twice the Vitamin C content found in oranges.
Peppers are also packed with precious nutrients like carotenoids and flavonoids that protect the body from the summer heat. The essential fibres present in them also help in reducing the risk of diabetes.”
Non-fat milk and yogurt
Yogurt is made for summers. This protein packed dairy product will prevent you from indulging in rich and high calorie diet in summers. It also adds the dose of probiotics in your diet, which is a beneficial bacteria to keep the digestive system running smoothly. Probiotics have traditionally been used as the key dietary component to keep people healthy by protecting their gut against common diseases.
These friendly bacteria are recognised on the health scenario due to their enormous health potentials. Probiotic foods boost immunity, prevent disease and promote overall wellbeing. They help to treat intestinal disorders, flatulence, and constipation. As per Ayurveda, milk and milk products have sweet or madhur rasa. Food with madhur rasa need not necessarily be sweet in taste. The rasa implies the taste the well-digested food produces after processing in the gut. Cereals, pulses, fruits, tubers, vegetables that hold water, eggs, sugar, fish and meat are other examples of food products that contain this rasa. Such foods have earth and water and are cooling in nature. This means their immediate effect on digestion is to cool it down a bit.
They are necessary for building of the body and aid in the formation and repair of tissues. Sweet is the heaviest and most moist of all the tastes and creates heaviness and moisture in the short as well as long-term. It thus helps to stimulate growth, is strength promoting, quenches thirst and is beneficial for the hair and complexion. Madhur rasa promotes a feeling of well-being and a sense of satisfaction and love.
A natural antioxidant in itself, green tea is the perfect supplement for your water intake when it is super-hot outside. Dr. Jaggi adds, “Moreover, for diabetes patients, it slows the absorption of sugar after a meal, reducing the peak levels of glucose in their body.”
Dr. Jaggi explains, “Green beans are packed with antioxidants such as lutein and beta carotene besides being an excellent source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A. With their mild flavour they make a wonderful low-calorie addition to any summer meal. Enriched with necessary carbs and fibres, green beans are important for glucose management.”
Refreshing, tasty, and hydrating, watermelon is packed with inflammation-fighting antioxidants that reduce the risk of complications of diabetes. The word ‘water’ in its name is for a reason. More than 90% of the fruit is loaded with water to keep you hydrated during warm weather. Even with its sweet taste, watermelon can fit into a diabetic meal plan anytime. The antioxidants present in it can help fight back against free radical damage and prevent inflammation.
Leafy green vegetables
Leafy vegetables like Kale and Spinach are non-starchy, which makes them beneficial for diabetics because they help in lowering high blood pressure. Geeta Bector, Marketing Director and Food Expert of Cremica Group, Delhi explaining the health benefits of Kale says, “Kale is considered to be one of the healthiest food products of all times. If cooked properly one can enjoy its maximum nutrition and flavour. It is low on calorie and high on fibre and is packed with nutritional benefits with almost nil fat content. It is high on vitamins, magnesium and calcium. I generally consume it as a detox food item.”
One of the simplest ways of enjoying its health benefits is to steam and use it in salads with various other vegetables. It should be steamed for not more than five minutes as over cooking might destroy its nutrients. Bector adds, “Kale can be used in various forms of salads. Braise chopped Kale and some of your favourite fruit or vegetable for example apple. Combine chopped Kale, Pine nuts and Feta Cheese with whole grain pasta drizzled with olive oil.”
As per Ayurvedic tastes, leafy vegetables like Methi, which provide generous amounts of vitamin A, iron, calcium, magnesium and other nutrients, have bitter taste (tikta). Karela, turmeric, jeera, nutmeg, kesar, dhania, elaichi and lime rind also are tikta. Bitter is made up of the elements of air and space. It is the coldest and lightest of all the tastes. It is a taste that balances the other tastes well, though it is difficult to enjoy at first. Foods containing tikta help to reduce weight and are recommended for diabetic patients. They help in detoxification, killing worms and assist a person to see clearly.
Dr. Jaggi adds, “A perfect vegetable to cool your body from inside this summer, cucumbers are extremely desirable. The skin and seeds are rich in nutrients even more than the flesh. Meanwhile, the juice of a cucumber contains a hormone needed by the cells of the pancreas for producing insulin.
By Khursheed Dinshaw