The Top 10 Foods to Avoid for Diabetes Prevention and Management

In this video, the speaker discusses the foods that should be avoided to prevent or reverse pre-diabetes and diabetes. They explain that metabolic health is important for converting raw materials into energy and tissue. The speaker highlights four causes of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, including exceeding the liver’s capacity, excessive glucose consumption, inflammation, and stress. They also provide insights into the impact fruits, starch, low-fat foods, salad dressings, sauces, condiments, cakes, candy, alcohol, agave syrup, and sugary drinks have on the body. The speaker emphasizes the importance of understanding the effects of these foods on the liver and overall metabolic health.

Author Icon

Our Summaries are written by our own AI Infrastructure, to save you time on your Health Journey!

How does this happen?

Key Insights:

  • Most people in the world are either diabetic or moving towards diabetes or pre-diabetes.
  • The same foods that should be avoided to prevent or reverse pre-diabetes and diabetes are the ones that people commonly consume.
  • Type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes are metabolic diseases, meaning the body’s ability to transform substances into energy or tissue is impaired.
  • Metabolic health is a continuum, with some individuals having better metabolic flexibility than others.
  • Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes can be caused by exceeding the liver’s capacity, chronic high glucose consumption, inflammation, and stress.
  • Fruits and berries differ in their impact on blood sugar levels, with berries being the best choice for those with poor metabolic health.
  • Starch, especially from wheat and corn products, raises blood sugar levels quickly and should be avoided by diabetics.
  • Low-fat foods, especially processed ones, often compensate for the lack of fat by adding sugar or artificial ingredients.
  • Salad dressings, sauces, and condiments labeled as „free of“ certain ingredients may still contain high amounts of sugar.
  • Candy, cakes, cookies, and other sugary treats should be avoided due to their high sugar and refined flour content.
  • Alcohol can overwhelm the liver, especially in excessive amounts, and should be consumed in moderation.
  • Agave syrup, despite being marketed as a healthy alternative, is high in fructose and should be consumed sparingly.
  • Sugary drinks, including soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks, are the worst for diabetics due to their high sugar content and lack of satiety.


Hello Health Champions. Did you know that most people in the world are either diabetic or are moving toward diabetes or pre-diabetes today. But the good news is that the foods I’m going to talk about today are the same ones you want to avoid if you want to prevent or reverse both pre-diabetes and diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes are both metabolic diseases. And what does that mean? Metabolism. It means to change or transform. To take something and turn it into something else. So we’ve often heard the phrase you are what you eat and that makes sense that you eat the food and some of the food becomes energy and some of the food we turn into tissue into new body parts and new cells.

But then some people misconstrue that a little bit and they think that the dietary fat that we eat becomes body fat. And then if we gain a bunch of body fat now we get obese and we have type 2 diabetes because these two are associated. But that’s a little bit too simplistic and think about this. Think about cows like this guy here is eating grass and if the cow became what it ate then we would expect to find a bunch of grass inside the cow but we don’t because the cow transforms, metabolizes that grass into meat. And that’s how it turns out for humans as well that most of the fat on your body does not come from the fat that you ate.

Metabolic health is when the body can take a substrate which means a raw material or the things that you start with. And for most of us most of the time that’s fat, protein, and carbohydrate. And if we have good metabolic health then we can take these and we can turn them into tissue and energy like we just said.

But metabolic health is a continuum so some bodies can do this really well and some have gotten a little out of balance. So if we’re balanced, if we have metabolic flexibility, if we have not ruined or worn out our metabolic machinery now we can take pretty much any combination of these for a while at least and we can still make tissue and energy. And especially if we have a good balance between feasting and fasting, if we don’t eat a whole bunch of meals more than what we expend.

But if we eat an unbalanced, if we eat way too much of one of these for a long time and in diabetes, we’re talking about carbohydrates because carbohydrates raise blood glucose and trigger insulin which is at the root of the problem. If we do that for years and decades now we get unbalanced, we wear out our metabolic machinery. So now in order to become unbalanced we basically had to exceed the threshold, exceed the capacity of that metabolic machinery.

There are basically four causes of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes and the first one is what we mentioned; we exceed the threshold. We wear out the metabolic machinery and basically that refers to the liver when we overload the liver when we give the liver too much to handle of the things that only the liver can handle, it gets toxic. It gets exhausted and we get a fatty liver. That sets the stage for insulin resistance.

The second thing is when we eat too much glucose chronically eat too much glucose that raises blood sugar, triggers insulin and when we have high insulin levels for years or decades, now the cells become desensitized, which is another way of saying insulin resistance.

The third way is inflammation which also promotes insulin resistance, it desensitizes receptors to insulin and anything causing inflammation primarily sugar grains and vegetable oils when we get excess omega-6 fatty acids that shifts the body’s ability to regulate inflammation.

And number four is stress so stress raises cortisol, which raises blood sugar, which raises insulin so it sort of works a little bit like eating too many carbs but stress also promotes certain inflammatory signal molecules in the body.

Number 10 on the list is one of the most controversial because fruits and berries are like a sacred cow. They’re a holy grail we can’t talk ill about these things so let’s put it in perspective they’re not good or bad we have to understand who they’re good or bad for and what kind. So berries are the best kind because they’re high in fiber, high in nutrients low in sugar. Then we have things like regular fruit more like cherries and apples and oranges and things like that. Then we have tropical fruit which are sweeter. They’re pineapple banana mango etc. And then we have canned fruit which is more processed that’s not a great thing. It often has the peel removed which has a lot of the fiber and it is often packed in the juice from fruit which adds sugar or it’s packed actually in syrup which adds sugar to it. So they’re getting worse from top to bottom and the worst would be fruit juice because here we have only the sugar suspended in water. We have removed all of the fiber and we’ve broken down all the cells so the sugar is just floating around ready for fast absorption.

So how much of this we can have depends on where we are on the spectrum of metabolic health. If you’re very healthy if you’re very insulin sensitive which is maybe 10% of the population you can have some of all of this. You can have plenty of berries you can have some regular fruit you can have a little bit less of tropical and canned fruit ideally. And you can even have some fruit juice if you squeeze it yourself it can be very nutritious you might be able to have a glass a day and not really ever mess anything up. I wouldn’t recommend the pasteurized fruit juice bought in stores because it doesn’t have all that many nutrients left. But if we’re talking about type 2 diabetes we have to understand you’re not anywhere near the green end of the spectrum. You’re not even near the middle you’re over on the side of poor metabolic health. You’ve broken your machinery and any amount of sugar is very difficult to tolerate. So basically what that means is the berries which are the best kinds you can have some of those because they’re very low in sugar and they’re very high in fiber but all the rest of it you should probably avoid and fruit juice for you would be really no better than Coca-Cola is. Metabolically it would just be sugar in water essentially.

Number nine worst food for a diabetic is starch. Because starch turns into glucose and anything made from wheat or corn so things like bread and crackers waffles pasta pretzels biscuits they only take minutes before these branches these trees these chains of glucose start breaking down to individual glucose molecules and start raising blood sugar. And the same thing holds true for things like rice and beans and potatoes they are mostly starch. So that means that they will very quickly raise blood sugar and start triggering insulin which is the second most important factor after overwhelming the liver.

But what is the difference between sugar and other forms of carbohydrate in how they impact the liver. Let’s say that we eat a hundred calories of glucose so that could be potatoes or rice or something like that then 20%, 20 calories are going to go through the liver and 80 percent are going to be metabolized by the rest of the body because every cell in your body can use glucose. It’s the most fundamental energy molecule of life and the impact on the liver is actually even less than that because most of this glucose going through the liver is going to be repackaged as glycogen so the liver might actually only burn up a couple of percent of that glucose so the metabolic burden on the liver is very small.

Let’s contrast that with something like alcohol ethanol in liquor and wine and beer. The liver now has to take care of 80 percent, the vast majority, and the brain and the pancreas and the stomach will burn up a little bit and a little bit would spill out through the kidneys but roughly 80 percent of all that alcohol is exclusively burned by the liver transformed by the liver so that places an enormous burden if we have a hundred calories of alcohol 80 has to be metabolized by the liver. Now for fructose that number is 100%. There is no other cell in the body that can do anything with fructose so all of the fructose that you consume has to be metabolized by the liver. And then if we look at sugar or sucrose, table sugar, white sugar, then that is 50% glucose and 50% fructose, so we get 60% of the burden on the liver and 40% on the body so that makes a lot of sense because that is the average between the glucose bar and the fructose bar.

But here’s the thing that a lot of people miss and misunderstand. Let’s think about our metabolic health spectrum again so what this means is if you are on the green end of the spectrum if you were a hundred years ago before you had a bunch of sugar you ate rice and potatoes you were working hard in the field then you were very insulin sensitive and now you can tolerate a lot of glucose you can eat that all day long because you’re going to burn it off.

However, if you are on the unhealthy, on the insulin resistant side of the spectrum, the situation has changed. So a lot of people say that you can reverse diabetes with a bunch of carbohydrate but once you have broken your carbohydrate machine now any form of glucose is likely to be very difficult for your body. It’s likely to really mess with your metabolic situation with your blood sugar and your insulin. So an insulin-sensitive person can handle a lot of glucose, a lot of potato and rice but does really well to avoid alcohol, fructose, and sugar. But a diabetic person needs to avoid all these categories.

And this explains why number eight is low-fat foods and I’m not talking about things that are normal whole foods that are natural little fat they are totally okay. I’m talking about packaged foods, processed foods, some type of food that used to have fat in it but now it doesn’t. So what does that mean if it now has less fat that means that it’s either naturally high in starch or that they have taken the fat out and now in order to make it attractive they have to put something else in so they give it flavor through sugar or through chemicals. And some examples of this would be non-fat fruit yogurt for example. They took the fat out, they put some fruit in but now they still have to add a bunch of sugar to make it tasty so oftentimes that little itty bitty yogurt pack is like a half a can of Coca-Cola. Another thing is cereals which can be naturally low fat and high starch but with cereals they also add a bunch of sugar and with adult cereals they might be 25% sugar with kid cereals they could be as much as 50% sugar on top of the starch. Other examples are things like mayonnaise that is normally a very high-fat product and if they make something that appears similar to mayonnaise but it’s less fat now they have to add a bunch of chemistry to it. And the same holds true for dressings if they remove the oil now they have to put in a bunch of sugar and chemicals.

Which brings us to number seven which is salad dressings, sauces, condiments, etc. And very often products are promoted as being „free of“. So here this is fat-free and it is gluten-free and it is no high-fructose corn syrup. So we’ve been conditioned for so long that certain things are bad and then they say that this product is free of that bad thing and then it’s promoted as a health food. So a lot of these things we can actually find in health food stores and this health section, the natural section of various stores. But being free from does not indicate that there’s anything good about it. And very often these dressings that are fat-free and free from will have 15 to 30 percent sugar instead. This one for example has nine grams of sugar out of two tablespoons. That’s 30 sugar in this dressing. But if it’s a honey dijon then it has to have some honey in it and honey is such a good thing, right? It’s so natural. Well, sugar, like we said, is 50% glucose, 50% fructose. Turns out that honey is more fructose. It’s 57% fructose, 43% glucose. And then we have this abomination called high fructose corn syrup that everyone is so concerned with. It has 55% fructose and 45% glucose so really what you’re seeing is that the honey is the worst out of these three but in reality, they’re all pretty much the same thing. It’s half fructose, half glucose. It’s all sugar. And again honey is a natural substance but our ancestors didn’t have a grocery store to go and buy it from every day. And if you are on the healthy end of the spectrum and you have a teaspoon or two a day you’re going to be totally fine. Then it is one of the best sweeteners available. But again if you’re on the unhealthy part of the metabolic spectrum then all of this is just sugar to your body. Another thing you have to watch for is how much is a serving? Here the serving size is two tablespoons but if you go to a restaurant and you get a salad they’ll typically bring you a bowl or they’ll bring you these little pouches. One pouch is usually one serving but I’ve never seen anyone use one pouch almost everyone uses two pouches which is actually six tablespoons or three times as much as the serving on the bottle which would give you 27 grams of sugar and you thought you were being healthy eating a salad.

So there are good dressings and the best part is if you make it yourself for you to stick to olive oil and vinegar. And most condiments will have a lot of sugar but one of the worst is barbecue sauce they can have up to 50 percent sugar in some of the brands. So watch for that and same thing as with the dressing how much is a serving? Well, I don’t think a lot of people would have much trouble getting through six tablespoons with a rack of ribs so there is 45 grams of sugar for you.

And now in most health food stores and health sections, you’ll find a whole rack, a whole row, there’ll be a lot of shelf space devoted to protein bars. And some of them are really good, some of them have mostly nuts and healthy things in them, but a lot of them are quite sweet and some use reasonably healthy sugar substitutes but a lot of them still use just sugar, as up to 30 – 40 percent of calories come from sugar. And these sugars aren’t always called just sugar you have to kind of watch for this so another name for sugar could be agave nectar. And if you don’t know what that is then you might think hey this is a good bar. Or grape juice solids or barley malt, dehydrated cane juice, moscovado, sweet sorghum, or brown rice syrup solids. So don’t be fooled. All of these and 60 other names just mean sugar.

Number five worst food for diabetics is cakes and cookies and you probably knew this but now you’re starting to understand a little bit more why because they are mostly made from sugar, white flour and if you bake them yourself you might put in some good butter but if they’re store-bought you’re probably going to have mostly vegetable oils that are going to be highly processed and very high in omega-6s. And even though most people look at calories and they look at fat providing most of the calories we have to understand that fat in a healthy form is okay but sugar and fat at the same time is not okay because fat is very satiating it provides stable blood sugar and if you just eat the fat and the vegetables you’re going to burn through the fat. But if you eat the sugar at the same time now you’re going to produce insulin and you’re going to clog up the liver and you won’t be able to burn through the fat because the body is so busy burning through the fat that is converted from sugar into fat. So a high sugar diet is a high-fat diet, but the difference is the fat in itself doesn’t trigger insulin whereas the sugar does.

Number four on the list to avoid is candy and it is a little bit worse still. If you eat dark chocolate that can be all right if you manage to limit yourself so if you go at least 70 percent cocoa I would prefer 85 then that would be okay if you have a few pieces here and there it is not going to cause too much harm but if you go with milk chocolate now there’s way too much sugar in that. There are also some positive introductions there’s a brand called Lily’s for example that make various chocolate flavors and they use erythritol, stevia, and monk fruit. Now the thing to bear in mind here is that even though most of the sweetness comes from erythritol, they are marketed as sweetened with stevia and monk fruit because stevia and monk fruit are more politically correct than sugar alcohols. But erythritol is one of the best ones, about 95% of it is absorbed very quickly and it doesn’t mess up your digestive tract at all, but then there is that other five percent that still goes down to your digestive tract, to your biome, to your intestinal bacteria and there that sugar alcohol can create some bloating and some problems if you’re sensitive especially.

But just about everything else that you see things like this in the picture is going to be somewhere between 50 and 100 percent sugar. And in addition to that, you’re going to get a lot of chemicals and artificial flavors and artificial colors.

The third-worst thing for your liver and your diabetes is alcohol and most people know this because we’ve all heard of alcoholism and liver disease. So alcohol is a burden on the liver the liver has to do 80 percent of the metabolizing so a tiny little bit once in a while is not a problem. The dose makes the poison so if you have a lot of it on a regular basis that will overwhelm the liver. I don’t recommend that you drink but if you do, and a lot of people would like to have some anyway, then your best bet is distilled liquor. So things like whiskey, rye, bourbon, vodka, gin, cognac, rum, etc. Things that are distilled have only the alcohol portion with it so with that, you’re getting around 16 grams of alcohol which is bad enough but at least you’re not getting any fructose and you’re not getting any glucose to add insult to injury. Your next best option is dry wine. Dry red, dry white wine still has the same alcohol but it has a tiny little bit of sugar one or two grams of sugar so we average it out roughly speaking you get one gram of fructose, one gram of glucose so it’s not significant. Next is beer. Same amount of alcohol for a standard serving, some beers are going to have more, some less and you’re not getting any fructose with this because beer isn’t sweet, but you’re getting carbohydrate and that carb turns into glucose so a really skinny beer might have five or six grams, whereas some of the most flavorful might have 13, 14, 15 grams. So on average you’re probably getting 10 grams of glucose out of a beer. So it’s not going to clog the liver directly but it’s going to produce some insulin that adds a little bit of stress to the system.

But here’s what you really want to understand, that what most people really like to drink, especially the sugar addicts, are mixed drinks. So here not only are you getting the alcohol but you’re getting probably around 15 grams of fructose and 15 grams of glucose because a lot of sugary drinks will have 30 or even 40 grams of sugar in a single drink. So the burden on the liver here with a mixed drink is more than double than if you just had distilled liquor or dry wine. And again I don’t recommend that you drink. I think there are better ways of relaxing, however, if you do, I would suggest that you keep it to two or less and if you’re a woman probably one or less because women don’t process alcohol as well. And then you also give yourself several days off that you have probably at least two or three days off every week where you don’t drink anything to give your body a break.

And the second-worst food for diabetic is going to be agave syrup and now we’re getting into tricky territory here because this is supposed to be health food right we find this in health food stores it’s got a big earth on it it says wholesome it has organic on it so we’re made to think that this is really, really healthy stuff it says low glycemic and we’ve been taught to look for low glycemic. But what’s really going on here is that agave is 75 to 90 percent fructose, right? It’s it’s a hundred percent sugar but it is essentially the ultimate high fructose corn syrup and because of that, it is basically a liver poison. Again if you are extremely metabolically healthy and use a teaspoon or two a day then this is a really healthy sweetener because the dose makes the poison. But if you are on the unhealthy end of the metabolic spectrum then this is some of the worst stuff you can do.

And the number one worst thing a diabetic can do is to drink sugary drinks so these are things like soda and sports drinks and energy drinks. And while we all pretty much know by now that soda is not a great thing a lot of people still think that sports drinks are good for you and that energy drinks give you energy. But what they have in common is that they are full of sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup. And the biggest problem is that as you probably have noticed or you’ve seen with your kids that it’s very easy to drink one, two, three, four, five, six and that is because of the fructose the fructose does not suppress ghrelin so normally when we eat something even starch even though it’s short term it suppresses ghrelin which is a hunger hormone. So we eat something and our hunger goes away but that doesn’t happen with fructose because fructose has no signaling impact on ghrelin and therefore the brain doesn’t register that you have eaten anything. So you took in a bunch of substrate that places a metabolic burden on your liver but your brain wasn’t informed. The brain doesn’t know and this stuff tastes sweet which means it has a drug impact, a drug mechanism, so you drink more and more and more and there is no sensation of satiety and therefore you can’t stop.