Nutrition - The Underutilized Tool in the Fight Against Diabetes


When someone is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, there can be many emotions and thoughts running through their head. As they come to understand their new diagnosis, they might feel like food is a foe and the potential cause for their situation. For those living with diabetes, nutrition can be one of the more challenging aspects of diabetes management compared to pharmacology and physical activity. However, when these three components of diabetes management are in step, they can help individuals be more successful on their management journey.

While understanding nutrition can be daunting for those recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, those who take the time to learn about and implement good nutrition can make huge progress in their diabetes control. There are many resources available for people living with diabetes to help them learn about and navigate the condition. Speaking with a healthcare professional, like a dietitian, nutritionist, or diabetes educator, can help individuals develop a nutrition plan that’s customized to their needs and lifestyle.

When it comes to nutrition for those with diabetes, there are some important considerations including:

  • Overall Eating Pattern: Following a healthy eating pattern that includes a variety of nutrient- dense foods – or foods that have a lot of nutrients but relatively few calories, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins – in appropriate portion sizes can help improve overall health and :
    • Maintain or lose weight, if needed.
    • Achieve blood sugar goals.
    • Delay or prevent diabetes complications.

  • Quality and Quantity of Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are one of the main nutrients in many foods and have a direct impact on blood sugar levels. Learning about carbohydrates – where they’re found and in what quantities can help people with diabetes manage their condition. Considering foods’ glycemic index (GI), a value that indicates how slowly or quickly a food can increase blood sugar levels, may also help management. In general, low GI foods increase blood sugar slowly whereas high GI foods increase blood sugar quickly. For people with diabetes, high GI foods can make it difficult to control diabetes while eating low GI foods can help individuals control blood sugar. Examples of low GI foods include barley, quinoa, oatmeal, many fruits, and most nuts, legumes and beans.

  • Diabetes-Specific Formulas: Specialized nutrition products are convenient nutrition sources to help support diabetes management. Glucerna, a diabetes-specific formula, is a low glycemic index product that has been extensively studied and has a unique formulation to help with the body’s natural process to help manage blood sugar.* Glucerna’s new, advanced blend of ingredients is designed to help support diabetes management. It has low glycemic carbohydrate system to help manage glucose level, dual fiber blend to support digestive tract health, heart healthy fat blend, and levels of vitamin D, calcium, zinc and iron to help meet the nutritional needs of people with diabetes.

By speaking with a healthcare professional or looking at diabetes-related resources, people with diabetes can get practical tips and strategies on how to implement good nutrition and form healthy habits while maintaining the pleasure of eating. These strategies – along with pharmacology and physical activity – can help them successfully manage diabetes.

*Postprandial glycemic response

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  1. American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care. 2019;42 Supplement 1:S46–S60.

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