According to the American Diabetes Association, 1 in 11 today have diabetes in the U.S. Along with the complications of the disease itself, having diabetes also doubles the risk of cancers of the liver and pancreas, and increases the risk of colorectal, breast, and bladder cancer by 20% to 50%. The reasons for this link are unclear, although the risk factors for both diseases are similar. For example, as you get older your risk of developing both diabetes and cancer increases. There is also a higher chance of developing both cancer and diabetes if you are overweight or eat an unhealthy diet.
Diet and Diabetes
As with most things, prevention is better than cure when it comes to diabetes.
Being overweight and obese increases the risk of developing diabetes, so following a calorie-controlled, plant-based diet is recommended to lower risk. For those who already have diabetes, the way you eat can also help to control your diabetes, and reduce cancer risk.
Healthy eating for those with diabetes includes increasing plant foods, consuming healthy complex carbohydrates and limiting added sugars. Simple ways to improve the diet to minimize blood sugar changes include switching to wholegrain carbohydrates, and filling up with vegetables at each meal time. Having a vegetable-based soup before meals, such as our Pureed Soup with Collard Greens will provide a portion of plant foods, and help to control appetite. Lowering fat content in the diet by choosing lean cuts of meat and having low fat dairy products is also recommended.
Diabetes and sugar
Public perception of eating with diabetes often includes warnings about sugar intake. This can lead to well-meaning individuals advising those with diabetes to avoid all sugar, including sugar from healthy foods such as fruit.
While it is true that fruits contain fructose, a form of sugar, it is not advised that people with diabetes avoid fruit. Fruit is an excellent source of fiber, which helps to slow down the absorption of the sugar in fruit. Fruit is also high in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals which play an important role in health.
It is important that people with diabetes remember portion size when it comes to eating fruit. One portion of fruit is generally considered to be one small piece of fruit, or a half cup of fruit salad. Having a fruit based dessert like poached pears is a delicious way of satisfying sugar cravings and increasing the nutrition in your diet.
It’s best to save sweets and desserts for special occasions so you don’t miss out on the more nutritious foods your body needs. These foods add excess calories to the diet without contributing healthful vitamins and minerals. If you tend to overeat on sweets, avoid keeping them in the house. Instead, plan to have dessert only when you are away from home, and try splitting dessert with a friend. It is also better to avoid special “diabetic” foods, as they often cost extra money and may not be much healthier than following the suggestions given here, like focusing on natural foods flavored with healthy ingredients. Check out our recipes page for ideas which will lower your disease risk, and are tasty to boot!