For a diabetes patient, watching and monitoring their diet becomes extremely important because what they eat directly influences their blood sugar levels. Foods low in Glycemic Index (GI), which is a measure of how quickly a food can make your blood sugar or glucose rise, are apt for people suffering from the condition. This is what makes millet a healthy food option as it is not only low on GI, but is packed with protein, full of fibre, and rich in magnesium, which helps improve insulin sensitivity. Below are some of the best millets to manage diabetes:
For thousands of years, foxtail millets, also called Kangani/Kakum, have been cultivated, primarily in parts of Asia and Africa. It is rich in several nutrients including complex carbohydrates, dietary fibre, protein, and an array of vitamins and minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. When it comes to diabetes patients, foxtail millets are great, particularly because of their low GI, which helps regulate blood sugar levels.
In addition, foxtail millets are gluten-free, making them suitable for those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
Barnyard millet, also called sanva, is a gluten-free grain that is grown widely in parts of Asia. It is a small-seeded millet, rich in dietary fibre, which makes it excellent for digestive health and weight management. Like other millets, it also has a low GI, making it a suitable choice for individuals with diabetes.
Pearl millet, or bajra, is an important staple crop, especially in regions with arid and semi-arid climates. The grains are usually small, round, and typically pale yellow or whitish in colour. Rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fibre, and essential nutrients like iron, magnesium, and phosphorus, pearl millets make for an amazing diabetes-friendly food. In many Indian households, it is commonly used in making rotis or flatbreads, porridge, and in other cultures, it is even brewed into alcoholic beverages.
Sorghum, or jowar is highly nutritious and contains carbohydrates, dietary fibre, and is gluten-free, making it suitable for individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. In diabetic patients, it can help stabilise blood sugar levels and support digestive health in general.
Finger millet, also called ragi or nachni, is renowned for its exceptional health benefits and nutritional value. It is a rich source of complex carbohydrates, dietary fibre, protein, calcium, and iron. Again, this millet is low in GI, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and makes it an excellent choice for individuals with diabetes. Another gluten-free alternative, it helps people with gluten intolerance, and can be prepared as porridge and flatbreads.
The Need For Diabetes Management
More than 40 crore people worldwide have diabetes, whereas over 10 lakh deaths occur due to diabetes each year, says the World Health Organization (WHO), adding, "Both the number of cases and the prevalence of diabetes have been steadily increasing over the past few decades."
A study published in the Journal Frontiers in Nutrition reports by 2045, an estimated 51% surge in diabetics will occur globally. This means an increase from 46.3 crore in 2019 to 70 crore in 2045.
The alarming data calls for action against the rising number of diabetes cases. Awareness around necessary lifestyle choices and healthy dietary habits plays a crucial role in not only managing diabetes, but also reducing the risk of the disease.