Diabetes is a very serious condition, and with the number of diagnoses on the rise every day, more and more Americans are coming to terms with the life-changing nature of this ailment.
There is no shortage of medication on the market, but with healthcare an increasingly hot topic in congress and cardiovascular surgeons recommending diet and lifestyle changes to combat and reverse the debilitating effects of Diabetes, it is more and more important that we look into lowering our blood sugar levels via natural means.
This guide will take you through some of the ways that you can take care of your blood sugar without the aid of medical intervention.
Learn to live with diabetes if you have it, but most importantly, manage it and show it who is the boss. You can consider some of the whacky diets that claim to reverse Diabetes, but your first port of call should be to make an impact on lowering your blood sugar.
Regular exercise is strongly advisable for anybody, but that goes double for a Diabetic. It’s no secret that Type 2 Diabetes can be linked with weight control, and working out is a fast and easy way of dropping pounds. The lighter you are, the more capable your pancreas is of creating insulin organically, which in turn will combat the levels of sugar in your bloodstream and reduce the regular need to inject the hormone from an outside source. The more you exercise, the more insulin you generate, which in turn releases energy into your bloodstream and leaves you ready to start all over again. Install a fitness-tracking application on your smartphone, set yourself a daily target, and enjoy the instant high you’ll receive from all those lovely dopamines that flood your brain.
A Diabetes diagnosis will require a change of diet, but it does not mean that you are doomed to munch on lettuce leaves morning, noon and night. The most important element of any Diabetic diet is keeping an eye on the carbohydrate content of your meal, and none other than the ADA suggest either counting the glucose on your plate or switching an ingredient for something less starchy(1). Carb control will also even out your long-term blood sugar levels(2).Learn to embrace whole foods over processed competitors, and you will find that youcan enjoy delicious meals devoid of empty carbohydrates.
Eat More Fat and Fiber
You need to replace those carbs somehow, right? Try doing so with fiber. Just remember that this food group comes in many forms, and you’ll need to steer clear of excessive pasta and cereal. Fruit and vegetables, however, can work miracles on the body of a Diabetic. Try adding an apple to your daily routine alongside soluble fibers, such as those found in cucumber and beans, which will slow down your digestion.Meanwhile, insoluble fibers – most commonly found in carrots and green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach – will hurry through your tract, which can only be good for the metabolism(3).
Equally important to a Diabetic diet is fat – though it’s essential that you learn the difference between good fat and bad(4). Moderate sums of mono- and polyunsaturated fats will not increase the risk of cardiovascular concerns, but can still be packed with calories, so don’t go crazy.
Be Prepared may be the motto of any good boy scout, but it also applies to dieters. When you’re counting carbs and calories the convenience of ready meals and fast food is a strict no-no, so you’ll need to make a handful of trips to the supermarket to stock up your pantry. There’s no need to fly blind – the cyber-shelves of Amazon are positively bursting with Diabetes-friendly cookbooks, many of which include shopping lists and meal plans that will guide you through this regime revolution – and keeping ahead of the game will assist you in avoiding temptation and unwelcome doses offructose.
While planning your weekly consumption, you may also need to start thinking about the size of portions that you consume. All the standard dieting tips apply here – use smaller plates to trick your eyes and brain, eat slowly and chew plentifully, and evaluate quotas of every ingredient before applying them to your meal. It’s also helpful to divide your serving into three; one protein-packed main, alongside two differing types of side, one starchier than the other.
Meal structure is important to Diabetics, but it’s unrealistic to assume that somebody living with the condition will never need to grab a bite to eat outside traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner servings, especially if the looming threat of a sugar low is on the horizon. The secret to this is to ensure that any such snacking involves pure protein – walnuts, for example, or a small serving of peanut butter or cottage cheese. It may be hard to find a convenience food that is not stacked with sweet carbs alongside the protein, but ingesting such an item will defeat the entire object of managing your blood sugar. Don’t lose heart though, as you can still treat yourself; dark chocolate (70% or more pure cocoa) is actually beneficial for the body of a Diabetic(5).
Everybody likes to unwind with a glass of wine or a beer after a long day, but alcohol can play havoc with your body. Small amounts of hooch will increase your blood sugar levels (one drink is equivalent to two servings of fat during a meal, and is typically packed with sweeteners), and yet drinking to excess will actually cause it to drop sharply. People living with Type 1 Diabetes are particularly at risk of the latter, due to the faulty mechanisms contained within their pancreas. Factor in how alcohol can also react poorly to external supplies of insulin, and you have plenty of reasons to stick with diet soda on a night out.
Learn to Love the Glycemic Index
Regardless of how much you loathe math, a substantial part of living with Diabetes is making sense of numbers. The easiest way of doing this is to seek out low-glycemic foods, which ranks the carbohydrate content of foods compared to the effect they will have on your blood sugar. The ADA recommend plenty of foods to get you started(6), and before long, searching for such healthy nutrition will become second nature to you. The glycemic index is not as prominent as it could be here in the States – it was created at the University of Toronto in the 1970s, and has since gained far more traction in Australia than anywhere else in the world, where low-glycemic foods are labeled with a logo – but do not let this deter you from investigating the system.
Take it Easy
This may fly in the face of the advice offered earlier, which emphasized the importance of exercise, but there are certain excitations that should be avoided – namely stress. Cortisol and Glucagon are hormones, and when we experience stress, every hormone in our body runs wild as our hearts begin to race.This is highly dangerous for Diabetics, as such internal activity can lead to substantial spikes in blood sugar(7). Sitting on the sofa 24/7 benefits nobody, but in between elevating your heart rate with jobbing and the gym try meditating, taking a yoga class or exercises in mindfulness to keep your blood sugars level.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Diabetes and sleep make for uncomfortable bedfellows, if you’ll pardon the pun. Diabetics are susceptible to all kinds of unpleasant sleep disorders, including but not limited to Restless Leg Syndrome, Sleep Apnea and Hypo/Hyperglycemia. However, when the human body does not manage to rest appropriately it tends to make us wake up hungry and craving sugar – far from helpful for a Diabetic who is attempting to manage their weight(8). Fall into a regular sleep schedule with consistent times of dozing and waking, cut down on the caffeine (especially in the afternoons, though it’s sound advice at all times of day), and stay out of the room if you are working or entertaining yourself in any way, so that your restless brain associates bed with sleep and nothing more. If you still have trouble catching Zs, consult a medical professional at your earliest convenience for further advice and potential assistance.
Drink Lots of Water
One of the first warning signs of high blood sugar is a seemingly unquenchable thirst, so it’s key for any Diabetic to keep well hydrated throughout the day. If you find yourself at risk of a high, guzzle two glasses of pure water, one after the other. This will help flush out your digestive system, and help in evening out the hormones in your body.
Track Your Blood Sugar
Whilst living with Diabetes and having to regularly think about your blood sugar is undoubtedly daunting, but it’s growing easier than ever to keep an eye on your levels. Countless applications are now available for smartphones and tablets that ensure you can log and record your progress of food and drink consumed vs. exercise, and many of which will warn well in advance if you are running to risk of experiencing a sugar high or low. This is also a very simple way of getting an idea of how your blood sugar reacts to particular foods(9), which goes a long way to helping with those all-important meal plans.