What should diabetic people eat to improve their mental health?

What should diabetic people eat to improve their mental health?

Living with Diabetes

Dealing with diabetes is not restricted to taking care of the carbs you consume and the metformin or insulin you take. It also has a lot to do with maintaining your mental health. There are two reasons why diabetic people mental health holds significant importance:

  1. Biochemical Factors

People with diabetes are more prone to having mood swings because of blood sugar levels on the extremes. Lower blood sugar levels or hypoglycemia leads to confusion, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and aggression. High blood sugar levels can cause a person to feel distressed and nervous. Moreover, it might become difficult for a person to think quickly in this case. As diabetic people undergo blood sugar level changes often, they have higher chances of getting mental health-related issues than people without diabetes. It is the biochemical change that triggers these changes in diabetic people’s mental health.

  1. Psychosocial Influences

Psychological and environmental stresses are other reasons for having mental health issues in people with diabetes. The need to follow a medication routine every day and/or getting insulin shots (in case of diabetes type 1) can cause a diabetic person to go under stress. It can become difficult to handle daily routine. Also, a person with a chronic condition has a high chance of going into depression, especially when the condition comes with no cure. All of these matters make it necessary to find ways to maintain a better attitude towards the condition and life, and consequently, better mental health.

Although you can bring positive changes to your life by following different behavioral strategies, meditation techniques, and counseling by a professional in psychology, you should also opt for a diet that helps you stay away from abrupt mood swings.

Why is Diet Important for Diabetic People’s Mental Health?

Maintaining normal sugar levels in the body is essential not only for better physical health but also mental health. That is why it is important to consume foods that help in maintaining normal blood glucose levels.

Foods to Eat to Improve Mental Health

Here are some foods you can eat to improve mental health:

  1. Low GI foods

Foods with a low GI are helpful as they break down and release glucose slowly into your blood, thus preventing you from getting sharp surges in your blood glucose levels. Frequent, small intake of foods with a low Glycemic Index keeps you on the safe side when it comes to maintaining normal blood sugar levels.

These foods include:

  • Leafy or green, non-starchy vegetables
  • Oats and barley
  • Skimmed milk
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Most fruits except mango, pineapple, and melons

It is advised to consume foods high in fiber as fiber helps in the elimination of excess glucose release into the blood, therefore maintaining normal glucose levels in the body. You should prefer consuming whole fruits and vegetables over juices as the latter would bring a sharp rise in the blood glucose levels in the body.

  1. Food containing healthy fats 

Diabetic people have high chances of getting depression due to recurrent mood swings and affected quality of life. Therefore, they should consume foods high in omega-three fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats that help in the prevention of depression, mental fatigue, and dementia.

These foods include:

  • Fatty fish
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Fish liver oil
  • Plant-based oils

Try consuming a moderate amount of these foods, either raw or combine them in the preparation of your food. Foods containing high levels of omega-three fatty acids help in nourishing your brain cells and foster the development of new cells.

  1. Anti-inflammatory food

People with chronic conditions, especially diabetes, have high inflammation levels in their bodies that trigger anxiety and stress, along with other physical conditions. To prevent these, you can include anti-inflammatory food in your diet. Diabetic people, mental health is quite often at an elevated risk of getting affected through inflammatory conditions that require ample care in dietary choices and behaviors. For example, antioxidants are essential to prevent and treat inflammation in the body. For that reason, foods rich in flavonoids and other anti-inflammatory compounds are helpful in treating anxiety and stress in diabetic people.

These foods include:

  • Berries
  • Citrus fruits
  • Peppers
  • Teas
  • Kiwis

All these foods are rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids that help to alleviate inflammation in the body. On the other hand, you should keep a note to avoid consuming foods that aggravate the inflammatory conditions of the body. These include highly processed foods, refined foods, canned foods (filled with additives and preservatives), and cured foods. Rather, stick to a natural diet to improve mental health.

What’s the diet that contains all these foods?

Simply speaking, you can opt for regular, balanced diets with some precautions, as mentioned. However, there is one comprehensive diet plan that encompasses all recommended foods to eat to improve mental health in diabetic people: The Mediterranean diet.

Consisting of food groups like leafy vegetables, fatty fish, lean protein, polyunsaturated fats, and citrus foods, the Mediterranean diet is an evidence-based diet for improving mental health in people with different conditions like depression and anxiety. Considering the factors involved in affecting diabetic people’s mental health, the Mediterranean diet holds an equal role in helping to improve mental health in such persons, if not more.

Final word

Taking care of diabetic people, mental health is equally important as taking care of their physical health. One cannot expect to sustain a healthy lifestyle and an improved quality of life if any of the two sectors is neglected. We noted in this article how different biochemical factors and psychosocial influences interfere with the overall mental health of people with diabetes. Therefore, it becomes increasingly significant to improvise healthy dietary choices and behaviors for improved mental health. Foods low in Glycemic Index and foods rich in fiber, omega three fatty acids, and antioxidants are essential to maintain a healthy mind in people managing diabetes.

We hope this article gave you an insight on which foods to eat to improve mental health if you or your loved one is managing diabetes type 1 or type 2.

Let us know If you have any questions or suggestions about eating habits of diabetic people. Share your thoughts in the comments section!

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