We were told as children to drink milk for good health. You probably have the childhood memories that you have to drink whatever milk your parents provided for you when you are a child. There is a variety of different types of milk available in the market now, as compared to the traditional option such as whole milk, and you can pick the best type of milk that you desires.
However, that’s not the case if you have diabetes- not all types of milk are beneficial for you. Although the nutritious calcium and protein found in milk are essential for your health, other ingredients such as saturated fats, carbohydrates, and sugar levels in the milk do make an effect to your health too. How to choose the best milk for your dietary needs?
Dietary needs for people with diabetes
As insulin production is not efficient in people with diabetes, thus blood sugar levels can spike. Managing sugar intake is important in people with diabetes. As sugar is a type of carbohydrate, thus, carb counting plays a major role in managing blood sugar or glucose levels for people with diabetes (1). Besides that, keeping an eye on the saturated and trans fat content in the diet is important, as these components can increase the risk of heart attack, which is common in people with diabetes. This is due to the high blood glucose from diabetes that can damage blood vessels and nerves that control the heart and blood vessels.
Individuals living with diabetes are also at greater risk of bone fractures. The increased risk of falls among insulin users and those with hypoglycemic episodes may contribute to the increased risk of fractures. Thus, a diet high in calcium can keep the bones strong, and one of the options to achieve this is by drinking milk daily.
Adding calcium-rich milk into the diet of diabetes patients may be quite challenging. Utilizing meal plan can be a good start for people with diabetes.
How meal plans help?
The American Diabetes Association recommends meal planning to keep blood sugar levels balanced. Popular meal plans include:
Carb counting: Sets a number of carbs for each meal
Plate method: Uses portion control to promote non-starchy vegetables and limit starches and protein
Glycemic index (GI): Pick and choose foods based on their nutritional value and their effects on blood sugar levels
Most people with type 2 diabetes should stick to eating around 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal (2). The carbohydrates found in milk should be tallied into that number. People with diabetes should also look at the amount of sugar per serving in milk, as well as milk that is high in saturated and trans-fat.
Tired of counting carbs & looking for low GI foods?
Every diet choice can make a difference. While people with diabetes do not need a “special diet”, one may face frustrations and uncertainty when trying to make food choices.
Diabetes specific formula can be used to replace a meal or supplement as it contains macro- and micronutrient ingredients needed to manage malnutrition, dysglycemia and other cardiometabolic risk factors (3). These formulas usually have low glycemic indices and complement dietary recommendations for patients with diabetes. Studies have also demonstrated the effectiveness of nutrition therapy for improving glycemic control and various markers of cardiovascular and hypertension risk (4).
Healthy eating can help to prevent, control and even reverse diabetes. Most cases of type 2 diabetes are preventable and some can even be reversed. Even if you have already developed diabetes, it’s not too late to make a positive change. With the right food choices and being more physically active, one can reduce the symptoms. Taking steps to prevent or control diabetes doesn’t mean living in deprivation, but having a complete and balanced diet is the key to boost your energy and improve your mood.
1. Carb counting, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/eat-well/diabetes-andcarbohydrates.html#:~:text=On%20average%2C%20people%20with%20diabetes,225%20carb%20grams%20a%20day.
2. Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee, Sievenpiper JL, Chan CB, Dworatzek PD, Freeze C, Williams SL. Nutrition Therapy. Can J Diabetes. 2018 Apr;42 Suppl 1:S64-S79. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjd.2017.10.009. Erratum in: Can J Diabetes. 2019 Mar;43(2):153. PMID: 29650114.
3. Evert AB, Boucher JL, Cypress M, Dunbar SA, Franz MJ, Mayer-Davis EJ, Neumiller JJ, Nwankwo R, Verdi CL, Urbanski P, Yancy WS Jr. Nutrition therapy recommendations for the management of adults with diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2014 Jan;37 Suppl 1:S120-43. doi: 10.2337/dc14-S120. PMID: 24357208.
4. Goldhaber-Fiebert JD, Goldhaber-Fiebert SN, Tristán ML, Nathan DM. Randomized controlled community-based nutrition and exercise intervention improves glycemia and cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetic patients in rural Costa Rica. Diabetes Care 2003;26:24–29