Low potassium foods in diabetes

Medically Reviewed by Dr Sravya, MBBS, MS 

Diabetes is a disorder that is caused when the level of glucose in the blood is elevated. The body’s main source of energy is glucose or sugar. In order to convert this glucose into energy, a hormone known as insulin is required which is secreted by the cells in our pancreas. When there is insufficient or no secretion of insulin by the pancreas, the level of glucose in the blood increases, causing high blood sugar or diabetes. The most common types of diabetes are type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, type 1 diabetes and gestational diabetes.

Potassium is a trace mineral which is essential to keep our body working normally. Potassium plays a key role in several functions such as keeping our blood pressure normal, relaying nerve signals between organs, and contraction of muscles. It is also required to maintain the pH and water balance of the body. A deficiency or excess of potassium can have serious consequences, especially in people with pre-existing conditions like diabetes. Therefore, to avoid such complications, it is important to keep your potassium levels in check. Depending on your potassium levels, low potassium foods for diabetics or high potassium foods for diabetics should be included in your diet, under the guidance of a dietician.

How is potassium related to diabetes?

The cells in our pancreas produce insulin. The level of sugar or glucose in our blood is controlled by insulin. Insulin moves glucose from the blood to the cells where it is stored to be converted into energy. Potassium is also present inside these cells. When the blood sugar level increases, potassium moves outside the cell, causing an increase in the level of potassium in the blood. At this point insulin moves the glucose inside the cells to maintain a balance, and there is a drop in the level of potassium. Low levels of potassium in the blood will cause less secretion of insulin, thus raising the blood sugar levels. This poses a risk for type 2 diabetes. High potassium levels in the blood, known as hyperkalemia, can be a result of uncontrolled diabetes.

In diabetic patients, the main reason for low potassium is a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. When the insulin is insufficient or absent, the body cannot convert glucose to energy. So, fat is used as a source of energy.

low potassium foods for diabetics

The breakdown of fats releases substances known as ketones in the bloodstream. Ketoacidosis is a serious condition that can result from having excessive quantities of ketones in the blood. It can be a life-threatening condition and causes symptoms such as nausea, shortness of breath, extreme thirst, and dehydration. A patient suffering from ketoacidosis requires hospitalization for treatment. The glucose and ketones are transported to the kidneys, where the kidneys filter them from the blood using water, which dehydrates the body causing a drop in potassium levels. Potassium levels are also altered due to the fluids and medicines given to treat ketoacidosis.

Normal Potassium Levels

The ideal blood potassium levels for adults is between 3.5 and 5 millimoles per litre (mmol/L). If the level drops below 2.5 mmol/L, it is known as hypokalemia. Potassium levels between 5.1 to 6 mmol/L are considered too high, and the condition is known as hyperkalemia.

Both hypokalemia and hyperkalemia are serious conditions and could be potentially life-threatening if not treated on time. The risk is even more elevated in diabetic patients.

Symptoms of hypokalemia include constipation, heart palpitations, fatigue, muscle spasms and weakness, tingling and numbness. In severe cases, muscle cramps and twitches, low blood pressure, excessive thirst and urination are seen.

Symptoms of hyperkalemia are pain in the abdomen, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms of severe hyperkalemia are chest pain, heart palpitations, arrhythmia and muscle weakness and numbness.
Potassium in diet

Potassium is an essential part of our diet. Although it is a trace mineral, it is necessary for several of our body functions. The daily dietary requirement of potassium for adult males is 3,400 mg/day, whereas for adult females it is 2,600 mg/day. In women, this requirement is increased in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Checking potassium levels at least once every six months is recommended. If your test results show abnormal levels of potassium or if you are experiencing symptoms of hypokalemia or hyperkalemia, it is important to visit a doctor in order to get proper treatment. The doctor will help you modify your diet according to your potassium needs. If potassium levels are severely depleted, potassium supplements may be given.

In patients with diabetes, the risk of potassium deficiency or toxicity is even higher and the complications can be more severe. So, one should follow a special diet consisting of low potassium foods for diabetics or potassium-rich foods for diabetics depending on their potassium levels.

Low Potassium Foods for Diabetics

As a diabetic, it is important to maintain optimum potassium levels. The best way to control the intake of potassium is through diet. A trained dietician can formulate a personalised diet for you depending on your potassium requirements. Most foods in our regular diet contain potassium, however the amount differs. Low potassium foods are the ones which contain less than 200mg of potassium per serving. Some low potassium foods for diabetics that can be included in your daily diet are –

1) Fruits –

2) Vegetables –

3) Other low potassium foods –

Although these are low potassium foods for diabetics, it is important to keep in mind that they should be consumed in a limited quantity. If too much of a low potassium food is eaten, it ultimately becomes a high potassium food. The recommended serving size for low potassium foods is ½ a cup.

Potassium-rich Foods for Diabetics

Potassium rich foods for diabetics are given to those who have a low potassium level. In addition, potassium supplements can also be given. Potassium rich foods are the ones which contain more than 200mg of potassium. While including these foods in our daily diet, it is important to keep in mind the portion size, as eating too much of these can lead to toxicity. Potassium rich foods must be limited to less than ½ a cup per day. Some potassium rich foods are-

1) Fruits –

2) Vegetables –

3) Other low potassium foods –

These potassium rich foods should be consumed in moderation, and under the guidance of a dietician or doctor. Diabetics who have raised potassium levels should avoid these foods or consume very little of them.

Takeaway

Potassium is an essential mineral and must be present in our diet. It is especially important for patients of diabetes to keep their potassium levels in check. Potassium levels can be maintained through a proper and balanced diet formulated by a trained dietician and personalised according to your specific needs. Patients with low potassium levels should consume more potassium rich foods for diabetics, whereas those with high potassium levels should eat low potassium foods for diabetics.

Diawhiz is an Indian Health Tech Company Which is Founded With a Motive to Control Diabetes in Multi Disciplinary Approach by a Team of Endocrinologists, Diabetologists, Psychologists, Certified Dieticians, Fitness, Yoga Trainers and Counsellors .

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Diawhiz is an Indian Health Tech Company Which is Founded With a Motive to Control Diabetes in Multi Disciplinary Approach by a Team of Endocrinologists, Diabetologists, Psychologists, Certified Dieticians, Fitness, Yoga Trainers and Counsellors .

What We Offer

Head Office

Hyderabad, India

DiaWhiz ©. All rights reserved.

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