Adopting a well-structured vegetarian diet may be suitable for a person with diabetes, and is even beneficial. Whether you consider vegetarianism or not, replacing a meal of meat with vegetable protein (tofu, legumes, etc.) is a good habit from time to time.
There are many reasons to be vegetarian: health and well-being, religion, culture, ethical or ecological motives, as well as economics.
There are various more or less strict practices of vegetarianism. Generally, the main sources of protein are legumes (lentils, chickpeas, dried beans, etc.), soybeans and their derivatives (tofu, tempeh, etc.) and nuts, but some also consume animal-source proteins such as fish, milk or eggs.
Benefits for the diabetic person
Several aspects of a vegetarian diet are beneficial to the diabetic person. Indeed, It:
- offers a diet rich in dietary fiber, which has a positive impact on blood glucose, satiety, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and improving the lipid profile.
- suggests a diet low in total and saturated fat, helping to lower bad cholesterol (LDL), blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease, higher in people with diabetes.
- facilitates the attainment of a healthy weight that promotes insulin sensitivity.
Your diet plan can be adapted to take into account the fiber content and sometimes higher carbohydrate content in the vegetarian diet. A dietitian/nutritionist can help you.
Are there any risks?
Depending on the type of vegetarianism and depending on the stage of life (pregnancy, breastfeeding, childhood, adolescence, old age), certain nutrients must be closely monitored:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Folic acid
- Omega-3 fat
Adopting a vegetarian diet may require a reassessment of your medication, based on the results of blood glucose and cholesterol control. Taking a supplement may sometimes be necessary. To find out if your diet meets your needs, do not hesitate to consult a dietitian/nutritionist. Your doctor may also check for any deficiency in any of these nutrients with a blood sample.
The health risks of vegetarianism often come from poor dietary planning, especially in people with restricted and monotonous diets.
Tips for a balanced vegetarian diet
- Opt for a variety of foods, including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, and, if desired, certain foods of animal origin.
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables in abundance.
- Make sure to include a source of protein for every meal, such as legumes, tofu, peanut butter, nuts, etc.
- If cow’s milk is excluded from the diet, consume milk beverages that are fortified (eg, soy beverage or other fortified beverages).
- Compose your meals based on the balanced plate model.
- If necessary, take vitamin and mineral supplements as directed by a health professional.
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