Living with diabetes requires a positive change in lifestyle. Start your change with Breakfast.
Long established as the cornerstone meal of the day, breakfast confers a host of benefits to those who regularly make it their morning ritual.
For people living with diabetes, a nutritious and healthy breakfast each morning helps regulate their blood sugar level and kick start the metabolism1. Research indicates, a healthy breakfast is beneficial for the heart, cholesterol level, and reduces the risk of developing diabetes2
So Why is Breakfast so Important for a Person Living with Diabetes?
People with diabetes tend to experience a high blood sugar level in the morning as a result of a hormone surge that the body produces during the wee hours to control the blood sugar level4. This phenomenon known as the ‘dawn effect’, affects each and everyone of us regardless of whether we have been diagnosed with diabetes. Unfortunately, people with the condition, are vulnerable to the dawn effect as their body is unable to produce adequate insulin responses to counteract the hormone surge4.
A recent clinical trial found that patients with Type 2 diabetes who skipped breakfast recorded blood sugar level readings 37 percent higher than when they consumed breakfast5. The study revealed that the omission of breakfast is associated with a significant increase in ‘day-long’ blood sugar spikes5.
For the 422 million people worldwide6 and 3.5 million Malaysians diagnosed with diabetes7, it's important to note that blood sugar surges can be life threatening, and in some cases lead to cardiovascular complications8.
Healthy Breakfast Basics
Breakfast is especially important for people living with diabetes. A person living with diabetes has much greater control over their blood sugar level when low glycemic (GI) carbohydrates are consumed. Eating low-GI carbohydrate foods causes a steady rise in the level of sugar in the blood, which in turn leads to a small and subtle rise in insulin9. Small increases in insulin keep you feeling full and energised for hours after eating.
Here are some quick tips that will help you plan your breakfast each morning:
Protein and Fibre
Food containing fibre and protein help you feel full faster, and has a minimal effect on your blood sugar level9,10. Protein helps to break down your food slowly, thus supporting a balanced blood sugar level8.
Whey proteinis widely known to for its high protein content which effectively reduces blood sugar spikes after meals compared to other protein sources such as eggs, soy or tuna15. Essentially, whey protein helps release specific types of hormones in your body, GLP-1 and GIP, to stimulate insulin after a meal. Taken over a period of time, whey protein even helps to reduce your HbA1c.
Fibre is beneficial to diabetics because of its role in decreasing blood glucose and lipid levels. 11,12 Also known as roughage or bulk, dietary fibre can slow down the absorption of sugar by increasing the thickness of the intestinal contents after a meal. Additionally, soluble fibers produces short-chain fatty acids that help to prevent your liver from secreting too much glucose into your blood during overnight fasting.
Most complex carbohydrate foods contain fiber, and generally takes longer to digest. Due to its slow-releasing nature, complex carbohydrate, have less of an immediate impact on blood sugar, thus help improve glycaemic response and regulate blood sugar level.
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a numerical measurement (0-100) for food, which indicates the speed at which carbohydrates convert to sugar in the body. The faster the conversion, the higher the GI number. Foods with a high glycemic index can cause spikes in blood glucose levels, while foods with a low glycemic index results in a more gradual rise in blood glucose levels9.
Examples of low GI food that can complement your breakfast include, raw unsalted almonds, eggs, and fruits such as apples and bananas.
Too busy for breakfast? If so, enjoy a meal replacement specially formulated for people with diabetes packed with essential vitamins, minerals and trace elements such as vitamin B, and K, zinc, magnesium, and chromium. Meal replacements that are specially formulated for people with diabetes are foods that you can eat or drink as an alternative to or as part of your meals.
Choose your meal replacement wisely as not all meal replacement products are created equal. It's important to review the ingredient list as well as the nutrition label before purchasing.
Specialised diabetes nutritional beverages are a great source of nourishment as they can provide the right balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins while offering a slow-release of energy to balance blood sugar. They can be enjoyed as a meal replacement or as a supplement to a regular meal in the event that you are not securing enough nutrition from your meal plan.
If you are considering a specialised diabetes nutritional beverage, select one that has the added benefit of whey protein and has a low GI.
It is also beneficial to look out for a specialised diabetes nutritional beverage that contains 100% soluble fibre, and slowly digestible complex carbohydrates that can improve glycaemic response, and help regulate blood sugar level more efficiently.
Finally, there are many types of specialised diabetes nutritional beverages, choose one which meets the American Diabetes Association (ADA) nutritional targets for people living with diabetes.
Planning is Essential
In order to have better control over what you eat, keep a food diary, or journal to help you monitor your meals and its effect on your blood sugar level. Your journal should consist of mealtimes, the type of food and drinks consumed, its quantity, and your blood sugar reading (before your meal and two hours after). By keeping a journal, you will be conscious to your hunger pangs and satisfaction levels and the emotional triggers that lead you to overeat. It will also provide you a guideline to how your blood sugar responds to different foods.
There is no doubt of the inherent benefits of a healthy and nutritious breakfast for people living with diabetes. A good breakfast fuels and prepares you for the day ahead. Make breakfast a priority and start your day right.
This article is brought to you by NUTREN UNTUK DIABETIK®, a sucrose, lactose and frutose free, clinically proven complete and balanced nutritious beverage for people with diabetes. Formulated in accordance to the International Diabetes Guidelines, NUTREN UNTUK DIABETIK® meets the latest American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommendations. NUTREN UNTUK DIABETIK® has a low GI and contains whey protein and a unique fibre blend (100% soluble fibre) to help you stay in control and energised for the day. NUTREN UNTUK DIABETIK®, Together We Take Charge.
- The Science Behind Breakfast. Retrieved on 27 October 2018, from https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/why-you-should-eat-breakfast
- Kirchheimer, Sid(2003), Breakfast Reduces Diabetes, Heart Disease. Retrieved 17 Octob223 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20030306/breakfast-reduces-diabetes-heart-disease
- Benton D, Parker PY. Breakfast, blood glucose, and cognition. 1998. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 67:772S-8S..
- Dawn Phenomenon. American Diabetes Association. Retrieved on 28 Oct 2016, from http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/dawn-phenomenon.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/
- Gordon, S. (2016, August 7). Skipping breakfast a bad idea for people with type 2 diabetes. InWebMD. Retrieved October 20, 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20150807/skipping-breakfast-a-bad-idea-for-people-with-type-2-diabetes
- Global Report on Diabetes. World Health Organisation(WHO), Geneva. Retrieved on 26 Oct 2016, from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs312/en/
- National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke.Retrieved on 31 Oct 2016 from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/preventing-diabetes-problems/heart-disease-stroke
- Carbohydrates & Blood Sugar. The Nutrition Source – Harvard TH Chan. Retrieved on 28 Oct 2016 from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/carbohydrates-and-blood-sugar/
- The Facts about Carbs, Fiber and Diabetes. Retrieved on 27 Oct 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/understanding-carbohydrates-fiber
- Meier R & Gassull MA. Consensus recommendations on the effects and benefits of fibre in clinical practice. Clin Nutr Supplements 2004;1:73–80.
- Alvarez EE & Sanchez PG. Dietary fibre. Nutr Hosp 2006;21(suppl2):60–71
- Canadian Diabetes Association 2008 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada. Can J Diab 2008;32(suppl 1):S1–S201
- Franz MJ, Protein:Metabolism and effects on blood glucose level. Diabetes Educ.1997 Nov-Dec;23(6):643-6, 648, 650-1. Retrieved on 28 Oct 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9416027
- Large Whey Protein Breakfast May Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes, retrieved on 17 Nov 2016, from http://www.newswise.com/articles/large-whey-protein-breakfast-may-help-manage-type-2-diabetes