Hypertension and diabetes sometimes go hand-in-hand, and both of these conditions can be considerably worsened or considerably bettered by healthy eating choices. For diabetes, a diet should include carbohydrate intake consistency, decreased trans- and saturated-fat intake, increased fruit and vegetable consumption, and decreasing sodium to under 2400mg per day. For hypertension, which if not controlled can lead to heart problems and renal failure, optimum diets include low sodium intake and low fat intake.
Diabetes and Carbohydrates
Diabetics need carbohydrates for energy, the same as the rest of the human population, but they also have to be careful, because carbohydrate consumption leads to postprandial increases in glucose levels. For those diabetics on traditional or conventional before-meal shots of fast-acting insulin, eating about the same amount of carbohydrates at the meal is essential for health. The goal is to get blood glucose levels near normal for a longer time, leading to better glycemic response and better health. Studies indicate that complex and simple carbs affect blood glucose levels about the same, but complex carbs should still be preferred, mostly for the other nutritional benefits they give (increased fiber for digestive health, whole grains for heart health).
The DASH diet,or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hyptertension, focuses on increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables as well as low-fat or fat-free dairy foods. They are good for diabetics as well. Fruits and vegetables should be the cornerstone of any diet, and the American Diabetic Association suggests consuming nine servings a day of fruits and vegetables. For diabetics, fat sources are a problem not for their effect on your glycemic levels but because of the associated long-term health effects. Diabetics, because of the tendency towards obesity, have to constantly monitor fat intake. Low-fat foods should be a main part of any diet for the hyptertensive diabetic population.
Sodium, and Nutrient Supplementation
Sodium is one of the theoretical causes of high blood pressure, and also can lead to problems for diabetics when consumed in too much quantity. Limiting sodium intake is very important; diabetics should limit sodium intake to a maximum of 2400mg a day, but patients with hypertension are encouraged to cut salt intake even more. Salt substitutes can help. In addition, a few nutrients are especially important to both groups: calcium especially is important for increasing potassium levels in the blood and thereby decreasing blood pressure, as well as being essential for good bone growth and healthy weight. Other important nutrients include magnesium, chromium and iodine.
- Clinical Diabetes: Translating Research into Practice; Fonseca, Vivian A.; Philadelphia, PA 2006
- William's Basic Nutrtion & Diet Therapy, 12th Ed; Nix, Staci; St. Louis, Missouri, 2005