Type 2 diabetes: Eating more of this food for breakfast could prevent blood sugar spikes
Type 2 diabetes means a person’s pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Unchecked blood sugar levels can pose grave health risks such as heart disease and strokes. Fortunately certain dietary decisions can stave off blood sugar spikes. One study makes a strong case for eating more protein for breakfast.
Eating breakfast prompts cells to increase concentrations of insulin at the second meal
Jill Kanaley, study researcher
Researchers from the University of Missouri have found that type 2 diabetics can eat more protein at breakfast to help reduce glucose spikes at both breakfast and lunch.
“People often assume that their glucose response at one meal will be identical to their responses at other meals, but that really isn’t the case,” said Jill Kanaley, professor and associate chair in the MU Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology.
She added: “For instance, we know that what you eat and when you eat make a difference, and that if people skip breakfast, their glucose response at lunch will be huge. In our study, we found those who ate breakfast experienced appropriate glucose responses after lunch.”
Kanaley and her colleagues monitored type 2 diabetics’ levels of glucose, insulin and several gut hormones – which help regulate the insulin response – after breakfast and lunch.
The participants ate either high-protein or high-carbohydrate breakfasts, and the lunch included a standard amount of protein and carbohydrates.
The researchers found eating more protein at breakfast lowered individuals’ post-meal glucose levels.
Insulin levels were slightly elevated after the lunch meal, which demonstrated that individuals’ bodies were working appropriately to regulate blood-sugar levels, Kanaley said.
She added: “Eating breakfast prompts cells to increase concentrations of insulin at the second meal, which is good because it shows that the body is acting appropriately by trying to regulate glucose levels.
“However, it is important for type 2 diabetics to understand that different foods will affect them differently, and to really understand how they respond to meals, they need to consistently track their glucose. Trigger foods may change depending on how much physical activity people have gotten that day or how long they have waited between meals.”
Kanaley said that although it would be helpful for individuals with high blood sugar to eat more protein, they do not need to consume extreme amounts of protein to reap the benefits.
“We suggest consuming 25 to 30 grams of protein at breakfast, which is within the range of the FDA recommendations,” she said.
Which foods containing protein are best to eat?
According to Diabetes.co.uk, oily fish and lean meats, such as skinless chicken and turkey, are often recommended for a diabetic diet.
Mounting evidence also points to the benefits of eating a low-carb, high-fat breakfast to control blood sugar levels. Associate Professor Jonathan Little, who teaches in UBC Okanagan’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences, published a study demonstrating that a high-fat, low-carb breakfast (LCBF) can help those with type 2 diabetes control blood sugar levels throughout the day.
“The large blood sugar spike that follows breakfast is due to the combination of pronounced insulin resistance in the morning in people with T2D and because typical Western breakfast foods – cereal, oatmeal, toast and fruit -are high in carbohydrates,” said Little.
Study participants, with well-controlled type 2 diabetes, completed two experimental feeding days.
On one day, they ate an omelette for breakfast and on another day, they ate oatmeal and some fruit. An identical lunch and dinner were provided on both days.
A continuous glucose monitor – a small device that attaches to your abdomen and measures glucose every five minutes – was used to measure blood sugar spikes across the entire day.
Participants also reported ratings of hunger, fullness and a desire to eat something sweet or savoury.
Little’s study determined that consuming a very low-carbohydrate high-fat breakfast completely prevented the blood sugar spike after breakfast and this had enough of an effect to lower overall glucose exposure and improve the stability of glucose readings for the next 24 hours.
“We expected that limiting carbohydrates to less than 10 per cent at breakfast would help prevent the spike after this meal,” he said.
He added: “But we were a bit surprised that this had enough of an effect and that the overall glucose control and stability were improved. We know that large swings in blood sugar are damaging to our blood vessels, eyes, and kidneys.
“The inclusion of a very low-carbohydrate high-fat breakfast meal in type 2 diabetes patients may be a practical and easy way to target the large morning glucose spike and reduce associated complications.”
What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
According to the NHS, symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
- Peeing more than usual, particularly at night
- Feeling thirsty all the time
- Feeling very tired
- Losing weight without trying to
- Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
- Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- Blurred vision
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