A total of 8 million people in Germany suffer from diabetes. Another 2 million also - but know nothing about it. (Source: German Diabetes Aid )
Diabetes affects almost every tenth person in this country. The good news: It is a very intensively researched field, life as a diabetic is quite possible.
Nevertheless, research is still being done to better understand the disease and eventually cure it. A big factor here: diet. Especially with diabetes, it can be incredibly helpful to ask yourself the following questions:
What should I eat? How many carbohydrates can be on the menu? And what should I avoid if I suffer from diabetes?
What is diabetes?
According to the Federal Ministry of Health, diabetes is the umbrella term for various metabolic diseases, all of which lead to elevated blood sugar. The reason for this is a lack of insulin and/or reduced insulin action.
There are two types of diabetes: type I and type II diabetes. The most common form in Germany (at about 95%) is type II:
type II diabetes
This type used to be referred to as “adult-onset diabetes”. However, since more and more young people are now suffering from it, the term has become obsolete.
It is not age that is decisive for the disease, but hereditary predisposition, obesity or lack of exercise. Over 80% of all type II diabetes cases are associated with obesity.
If one (or more) of the factors apply, the body gradually develops insulin resistance. Insulin is a vital hormone whose job is to move sugar from the blood into the cells - where it's needed. Insulin keeps blood sugar stable in a healthy person. If, on the other hand, the body develops a resistance to the hormone, it can no longer work properly on the organs: the blood sugar level rises and diabetes can develop in the long term.
There are a number of ways to get this disease under control. The focus is usually on integrating regular exercise into everyday life, adjusting your diet or losing weight.
type I diabetes
Unlike the widespread type II, type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease: the pancreas cannot even make insulin (as it would in type II), but produces very little or no insulin.
So that the sugar in the blood can still be utilized, even without the body's own insulin, people with type I diabetes have to inject insulin every day. In addition, the blood sugar level is measured every day. In this way, the symptoms (frequent urge to urinate, extreme thirst or tiredness) are largely avoided and the sufferers can lead a largely normal life.
Type I diabetes is believed to be hereditary. Nevertheless, the risk of developing diabetes if one parent is diabetic is only a few percent (source: Apotheken-Umschau ). What exactly causes the immune system to attack the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, however, is still unclear.
Is diabetes curable?
Type I diabetes cannot be cured. Those affected must learn to deal with the disease. However, thanks to modern insulin therapies, it is now easier to lead a life as a diabetic.
The situation is different with type II: Since the causes are mostly obesity, poor nutrition and lack of exercise, the treatment can initially focus on getting the sick person used to a healthier lifestyle and thus lowering the blood sugar level.
In addition to regular exercise, the first starting point is a healthier and more balanced diet. Many diabetics don't pay enough attention to what they can or should eat - time to change that!
What should I not eat as a diabetic?
In short: All foods that consist primarily of short-chain carbohydrates. These cause the blood sugar level to rise quickly and fall again quickly - you neither stay full for long nor do your blood sugar do anything good. The same is true of fried foods or foods that are heavily processed.
- Soft drinks: The effect on blood sugar should not be underestimated just because they are drinks. Just one glass of Coca Cola contains 9 sugar cubes ! Better to drink water, unsweetened tea or coffee.
- ready-made salad dressing: You may not believe it - but even in such an innocent-looking salad dressing there is hidden sugar. 8 g of sugar per 100 g are not uncommon.
- Sweets: should be obvious, but we're happy to mention it again. Gummy bears, chocolate and chips are highly processed and real sugar and calorie bombs.
- Alcohol: The liver is needed to break down alcohol. In this case, however, she cannot take care of releasing her sugar reserves into the blood. The result can be dangerous hypoglycaemia.
- Trans fats: Trans fats are originally unsaturated ("healthy") fatty acids that are chemically hardened during the manufacture of food. Trans fats have negative effects on lipid metabolism and heart health and should be avoided – not only by diabetics.
- Fried food: Not only is sugar not skimped on here, but also fat. Trans fats in fried foods can be identified by the words "hardened" or "partially hardened."
Note: In the case of kidney damage , which is a typical long-term consequence of permanently elevated blood sugar levels, protein intake should also be kept in mind. Too much protein can be harmful in this case. Always clarify your diet with your doctor!
What should I eat as a diabetic?
The Professional Association of German Internists , the Techniker Krankenkasse and the German Nutrition Advice and Information Network state that around 50% of the diet should consist of carbohydrates, 30-35% of fat and 15-20% of protein. Important here: It should primarily be a plant-based and balanced diet. Also, avoid fast food, prefer to cook yourself and pay attention to the quality of your meals.
Unfortunately, the rumor that diabetics shouldn't eat any carbohydrates is still stubborn. However, the concern about sugar is unfounded, as several sources ( 1 , 2 ) confirm: It depends on the type of carbohydrates - it should be clear that soft drinks, gummy bears and the like are not healthy.
You can read more about how carbohydrates work and what their tasks are here .
As a rule of thumb, remember: Any food that doesn't spike your blood sugar levels is good for diabetics. The goal should always be to have a blood sugar level that is as stable as possible and does not have extreme swings up or down.
The best way to do that is through
- Complex carbohydrates: In order not to let your blood sugar level rise sharply and to avoid cravings, rely on long-chain carbohydrates. They keep you full for a long time and are perfect for a diabetic diet. These include above all whole grain products, rice, oatmeal or legumes. At best, remove white flour products from the menu.
- Fiber: … are indigestible, complex carbohydrates. They fill you up, bind water and are extremely healthy. Broadly speaking, they slow down the processing of carbohydrates in the gut, so they get into the blood more slowly. The recommended amount of fiber is around 30-40 g per day. You can read more about fiber and which foods contain it here .
- Fats: It is best to use unsaturated fatty acids here. You will find these mainly in linseed or rapeseed oil, linseed and nuts. When in doubt, opt for omega 3 instead of omega 6 fatty acids.
- Vegetables and fruits: Many vegetables and fruits are also high in fiber. Make sure you eat at least 5 servings of vegetables per day.
Is Löwenanteil compatible with a diabetic diet?
Yes, all of our dishes are ideal for diabetics. We only use natural ingredients, we don't have any added sugar - instead we use complex carbohydrates.
Legumes are also the absolute basis of our dishes. The small power balls score with lots of proteins and a lot of complex carbohydrates - the dietary fibers. They are difficult to digest, increase the volume of our stool and dilute the energy content of food.
Especially for (but not only for) diabetics, they are extremely useful in that they ensure that carbohydrates from food enter the blood more slowly. In this way, the blood sugar level rises slowly and gently and diabetics can prevent sugar peaks after eating. With the beans in our two chili dishes ( Chipotle Chili & Chili Vegano ) or the lentils à la Provence , you can easily fight cravings!
Legumes also have a positive effect on digestion: the plant fibers they contain bind water in the intestines, swell up and stimulate digestion.
As a diabetic, you should always keep an eye on your diet and insulin in order to be able to deal with the disease. Eat a balanced diet and avoid highly processed foods as they contain bad trans fats and short carbohydrates.
However, demonizing carbohydrates in diabetes is not the right approach either: instead, rely on long-chain carbohydrates to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
Don't feel like cooking something elaborate for yourself? Then feel free to try our dishes ! Healthy, nutritious - and suitable for diabetes.