The Food Pyramid for Diabetes and other Tips for Health

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH

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2. Auxiliary Supporting Nutrients

The food pyramid for diabetes and regular injectionsDo you suffer from diabetes? Do you find it difficult to figure out what is best for you to eat? Do you think you could benefit from a food pyramid for diabetes?  Would a food pyramid for diabetes help you gain more control over you health?  Keep reading to learn more about what a food pyramid for diabetes looks like and how you or someone you love may benefit from utilizing it.

  1. Alpha-Lipoic Acid: Lipoic Acid is an antioxidant that is especially effective for the treatment of diabetic poly neuropathy- the nerve degeneration that often accompanies diabetes – which causes pain, tingling, and numbness in the hands and feet. Included in the food pyramid for diabetes are: red and organ meats are the richest dietary sources, but it is also found in carrots, yams, beets, and spinach. Take 300-500 mg a day.
  2. Bitter Melon: A member of the squash family, this plant normalizes glucose levels and is used as the sole remedy for diabetes in some parts of China and India. Clinical trials have shown good results with NIIDM who were given 2 ounces of the juices. Drink 2 ounces of the juice daily for the first week, and then increase the dose to 8 ounces.
  3. Blueberry: Incorporating this fruit into your diet on a regular basis helps protect your arteries and nerves from damage due to diabetes. Eat at least 1/2 cup of fresh berries every day, or take 25 mg capsules two times a day.
  4. Bilberry (European Blueberry): This is a plant from Europe. Bilberry leaf tea has a long history of folk use in the treatment of diabetes. This use is supported by research which has shown that an oral intake reduces blood sugar levels in normal and diabetic animals. Bilberry flavonoids (anthocyanosides) have been shown to increase intracellular vitamin C levels, decrease the leakiness and breakage of small vessels commonly associated with vascular damage from diabetes, has an affinity for blood vessels of the eye and retina, and improves circulation t the retina. This affinity is consistent with several clinical trials showing positive results with diabetic retinopathy. The dose widely used in Europe is standardized to contain 25% anthocyanidine. Take 50 mg to 100 mg three times a day.
  5. Vitamin A: This antioxidant helps convert beta-carotene efficiently, which reduces the risk of blindness in diabetics. Foods rich in vitamin A include green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, fish, watermelon, and cantaloupe. Take 2,500 I.U. daily.
  6. Zinc: Diabetics typically excrete excessive amounts of zinc in the urine and therefore require supplementation. Taken daily, this mineral helps control blood-sugar levels. Take 30 mg a day.
  7. Ginkgo Biloba: Gingko has been shown to improve cerebral and peripheral vascular blood flow. This is important for diabetics who commonly suffer from peripheral vascular insufficiency. Dosage is standardized to contain 24% gingko flavoglyosides. Take 40 to 80 mg three times a day.
  8. Gymnea Sylvestre: This Ayurvedic medicine has been used in India for centuries to improve blood-sugar levels. It works to regenerate the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Gymnea extract has shown positive clinical results in reduce blood sugar in both Types I and II diabetics. It is interesting to note that no blood-sugar-lowering effect is seen in healthy volunteers. Take 200 mg 1 -2 times a day.
  9. Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 supplementation has been used successfully to treat diabetic neuropathy. Vitamin B12 deficiency is characterized by numbness of the feet, pins-and-needles sensation, or a burning feeling – common symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. Oral supplementation with 500 to 2,000 mcg per day is usually sufficient.
  10. Vanadium and the food pyramid for diabetesVanadium: The amount of vanadium we get in our diet appears to be 50-60 mcg. In the therapeutic use in diabetes management, the dosage required is often 1000-fold greater. Unfortunately, vanadium compounds have not been extensively tested in clinical trails. The use of vanadium for treatment of diabetes should best be taken under the supervision of a knowledgeable physician.
  11. Fish Oils: These oils help improve insulin efficiency by enhancing blood flow to arteries and reducing the clumping of red blood cells. Coldwater fish, such as salmon, are a good source, or you can take 500 mg capsules twice a day, or simply eat 8-12 ounces of fish per week.
  12. Berberine: Berberine is an extract from several different plants. It has a yellow color that is often used as dye. Many studies have shown that berberine helps to activate an enzyme in the cells that regulate metabolism. Through this, berberine is able to improve the body’s usage of sugar. This includes lowering blood sugar, decreasing insulin resistance, slowing down the breakdown of carbohydrates in the gut, breaking down sugars inside cells, and reducing sugar production in the liver. Note that berberine may also cause weight loss. It can also improve heart health by lowering total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglyceride, and raising HDL cholesterol.

3. Diabetic Low Glycemic Index Diet:

Dietary control of diabetes comes down to 2 simple principles:

  1. Eat less (fewer calories) to maintain ideal body weight.
  2. Eat low glycemic index foods that do not turn into sugar quickly

A food pyramid for diabetes could help you to understand and comprehend what this looks like in daily life.

The Glycemic Index (GI)

The glycemic indexrepresents the magnitude of the increase in blood glucose that occurs after ingestion of the food. This index measures how much your blood sugar increases in the two or three hours after eating.

When you make use of the glycemic index to prepare healthy meals, it helps to keep your blood sugar levels under control. GI tends to be lower for foods that are present in relatively large particles, minimally processed, and are ingested along with fat and protein.

Below are the general guidelines to what is considered high or low Glycemic Index (GI) foods.

High GI Foods

The following foods are considered unacceptable:

  • Foods containing sugar, honey, molasses, & corn syrup.
  • Breads – all white breads, all white flour products, corn breads
  • Grains – rice, rice products, millet, corn, corn products
  • Cereals – all cereals except those on the Low GI List below
  • Pasta – thick, large pasta shapes
  • Fruits – bananas, watermelon, pineapple, raisins
  • Vegetables – potatoes, corn, carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips
  • Snacks – potato chips, corn chips, popcorn, rice cakes, pretzels
  • Alcohol – beer, liqueurs, all liquor except red wine

Low GI Foods

Look at what you can have:

  • Breads – whole rye, pumpernickel, whole wheat pita
  • Grains – barley, bulgur, kasha
  • Cereals – Special K, All Bran, Fiber One, regular oatmeal
  • Pasta – whole-wheat pasta, bean threads
  • All meats
  • All dairy products (no sugars)
  • Whole Fruits – all except the High GI fruits above
  • Green leafy Vegetables – all except the High GI vegetables listed above
  • Snacks – nuts, olives, cheese, pita chips, fried pork rinds
  • Alcohol – red wine
  • Misc. – olives, eggs, peanut butter (no sugar)

Take a look at this food pyramid for diabetes to help gain persepctive.

Anti-Aging Food Pyramid for Diabetes

Eat from the food pyramid for diabetes
This Diet consists of 50-55% complex carbohydrates of low glycemic type (whole fruits, above ground vegetables, whole grains), 20-25% protein (preferably from plant sources), 25-30% fat. The normal 5% sweets, candies and dessert should be avoided.

There are three major layers to the Anti-Aging Food Pyramid or Food Pyramid for Diabetes. They are divided into daily, 2-3 times a week, and weekly layers. Imagine a pyramid with three layers, each layer getting much narrower as it gets closer to the tip.

The daily broad base layers of the pyramid starts with 10 glasses of pure filtered water a day and complex carbohydrates supplying up to 55% of the calories These carbohydrates are those of low glycemic index type – barley, cereal, legumes, and above ground vegetables. A limited amount of nuts, which is a fatty food, is also included in this first base layer. Three servings of vegetables should be eaten daily. High glycemic index complex carbohydrates such as wheat, rice, and corn should be restricted. Moderate amounts are acceptable if they are mixed with fat and protein.

Eggs also form part of the base layers. It is a good protein source. One egg per day is acceptable (including those used in cooking and baking). Organic eggs are the best.

Olive oil and fats from fish; nuts are part of this daily layer. 25-30% of the calories in your comes from fats. The fats in the diet should come mainly from olive oil, which is high in monounsaturated fats and also a good source of antioxidant. Some come from the fish, poultry and meat consumed.

The second layer is a much smaller layer containing protein food from fish and poultry. You should eat from this group 2-3 times a week. Fish should be those that live in deep and cold water, such as salmon and tuna. Poultry should preferably come from free-range chickens.

The third layer, which is very small, contains foods that one should eat 1 time a week. These include sweets, red meat (lean). If blood sugar is severely impaired, sweets should be avoided altogether.

Diet Tips for Diabetes Mellitus

  1. Reduce overall fat, especially trans-fat commonly found in fried food so the overall calories is immediately reduced, as a result, weight loss is inevitable. Use oils or foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as olive oil, rapeseeds oil, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, for they lower insulin requirements.
  2. Eliminate refined carbohydrates and sugar from your diet, as they increase the blood sugar immediately. Substitute complex carbohydrates that have lots of fiber. Beware that sweet snacking is a frequent behavior at times of stress. Fruit should be the major source of sweetness in your diet, as they are low in calories, high in fibers, and many other minerals and vitamins which are essential for keeping the body healthy.
  3. Watch the glycemic Index (a rating system to measure food’s effects on blood sugar levels) of the carbohydrates that you consume. The higher the glycemic index, the more pronounced the food will have on your blood sugar, and scientific studies have shown that leads to excessive food intake in obese subjects.
  4. Bitter melon and the food pyramid for diabetesCelery, Bitter Melon, Onion, Garlic, Globe Artichoke, Jerusalem artichoke, Asparagus and Spinach are vegetables that alleviate Diabetes Mellitus.
  5. Refrain from excessive protein in your diet. Try meat substitutes or non-animal protein foods such as legumes tofu. Eat more fish, chicken and very little red meats (12-16 oz. per month). Legumes are excellent insulin regulators.
  6. Split your menu into 6 small meals per day, rather than the traditional 3 square meals. This way, you will maintain a balance in your blood sugar and the level of nutrients in your body throughout the day.

4. Exercise

No diabetes program is complete without a well-balanced exercise program. While most people think of exercise as a way to reduce body weight, exercise does much more, including reducing insulin resistance and impotence.

A well-balanced exercise must include three components:

  1. Flexibility training
  2. Cardiovascular training
  3. Strength training

According to the proper protocol and food pyramid for diabetes, ideally, about 2000 calories should be burned per week. Working out with 30 minutes of aerobics exercise at moderate intensity 5 times a week plus 15-20 minutes of strength training 3 times a week will accomplish this goal.

5. Prescription Medications

If the above protocol fails, drugs and insulin have to be used. Oral Medications commonly prescribed fall into one of 4 categories:

  1. Medications that Increase the Insulin Output by the Pancreas, such as chlorpropamide and tolbutaminde, glyburide, glipizide, and glimepiride.
  2. Medications that decrease the amount of glucose coming from the liver such as metformin (Glucophage). Metformin does not alter concentrations of insulin in the blood and, therefore, rarely causes low blood glucose levels.
  3. Medications that increase the sensitivity of cells to insulin, such as Troglitazone (Rezulin) which was taken off the market in March 2000 due to liver toxicity, or rosiglitazone (Avandia) whose long-term safety profile is not known.
  4. Medications that Decrease the Absorption of Carbohydrates from the Intestine such as Precose. Precose has significant gastrointestinal side effects. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, and gas are common and are seen in up to 75% of patients.


Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus is a disease that requires insulin to sustain life.
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (NIIDM) is a disease that is largely curable.

Treatment of NIIDM from a drug-free perspective includes a protocol consisting of 3 steps taken concurrently and properly utilizing a food pyramid for diabetes:

  1. Diet of low glycemic index food to reduce sugar imbalance.
  2. Exercise to maintain ideal body weight and reduce insulin resistance./li>
  3. Nutritional Supplements, including: Chromium Polynicotinate 400- 1200 mcg a day, Vitamin C 1- 2 grams a day, Vitamin E 800-1200 I.U. a day, and magnesium 200-300 mg two to three times a day.

Auxiliary supplements include alpha lipoic acid 300-500 mg a day, bitter melon 2 ounces a day, blueberry 25 mg two times a day, vitamin B12 500- 2000mcg a day, and gingko biloba 40 to 80 mg three times a day.

If the above fails to control blood sugar, prescription medications should be considered. Conversely, those who are already on medications may be weaned off slowly under the supervision of a physician and following the above protocol.  If you want to improve your health start using a food pyramid for diabetes today.

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© Copyright 2015 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Food pyramid for diabetes