Is Type 2 Diabetes Preventable: How Dried Figs Can Help during Pre-Diabetes Stage

acorn squash soup with apples and figs

by Annie Siegfried, MS, RDN

Is type 2 diabetes preventable? Lifestyle and diet changes can help prevent type 2 diabetes. Prevention is key:

  • If you have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes—high blood glucose levels that don’t get to the threshold of a diabetes diagnosis
  • If you’re currently at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes because of excess weight or obesity, high cholesterol, or a family history of diabetes. 
  • If you’re a non-diabetic with none of the symptoms and health conditions above and with no family history, but you over-consume foods with added sugar and foods high in simple carbohydrates, especially without balancing those with protein and fat and adequate amount of fiber in your diet. 

This means that although blood sugar spikes are commonly linked to people with diabetes and pre-diabetes, we all should be concerned about stabilizing our blood sugar and avoiding post-meal spikes. Non-diabetics too are likely to experience glucose spikes with simple everyday foods like breakfast cereal, bread or pizza. 

Is type 2 diabetes preventable? RDN, Annie Siegfried writes about how fiber-rich foods like dried figs factor in if you have pre-diabetes.
Acorn Squash Soup with Figs + Apples | Get the recipe | by Annie Siegfried, RDN

Over time these spikes stress the pancreas by forcing it to work harder and, over time, hinder its ability to produce insulin for a longer time. Spikes in blood sugar can make you feel tired a few hours after a meal, as such spikes normally lead to an equally fast drop in blood glucose. If you feel overtired, non-productive, jittery and sweaty a few hours after consuming meals high in added sugar and simple carbohydrates, means you had a spike after your meal and now you’re experiencing a fast drop in blood glucose. Normally, when the fast drop happens, you also crave sweet things to compensate for the rapid fall in blood sugar. This is why spikes are more harmful than a higher but steady glucose level and it’s the variability caused by glucose spikes that is problematic. 

Fiber-rich foods in stabilizing blood sugar levels for pre-diabetes or diabetes

Fiber slows down the absorption of carbohydrates into our bloodstream, which helps prevent blood sugar spikes. This helps us maintain energy, reduce cravings, and feel satiated throughout the day. 

Why eat dried figs if you have pre-diabetes or diabetes

Because fiber-rich foods are more filling and energy-rich, they also help us eat less. Dried figs are a great source of dietary fiber, which helps slow digestion. When choosing dried fruits, make sure they don’t contain any added sugar though. Sun-Maid California Dried Mission Figs contain no added sugars and allow you to eat your favorite type of fig all year round. Dried figs have natural sugar content, which makes people think that it will contribute to blood sugar spikes. This is a myth, as the fiber in dried figs proves the opposite. In addition, if you combine it with other foods rich in protein and fat, and eat those foods in the right order, you can avoid even minor spikes. Avoid foods that are “bad carbohydrates” instead — high in sugar with little fiber or nutrients: white bread and pizza, pastries, pasta from white flour, fruit juices, and processed foods with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.

The importance of eating food in the right order 

We know it’s important to get a healthy array of macronutrients–carbs, fats, protein–and to get these macronutrients from whole foods rather than processed foods. But, have you thought about the order in which you eat your macronutrients and whether it impacts your metabolic health and glucose levels? Protein, fat, and fiber all slow down gastric emptying, which may be one reason why consuming them before carbs lowers the glycemic response. You will have a quite different blood glucose results if you eat carbs first. 

Answering the question of is type 2 diabetes preventable is a good starting point. Flattening our glucose curves is the most important step towards better health. With flatter glucose curves, we experience fewer cravings, have better energy, and easier management of gestational diabetes, type 1 diabetes, and less risk of type 2 diabetes. 

  • Weill Cornell Medicine. “Food Order Has Significant Impact on Glucose and Insulin Levels”

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