Diabetes Control with a Healthy Lifestyle
India has an alarming number of over 77 million people having Diabetes and this number is expected to rise to over 100 million by 2030 [i]. Diabetes, though a big concern, it can be easily managed with a healthy lifestyle. Studies show that type 2 diabetes can be reversed for some people through diet changes and weight loss. Though this does not mean that diabetes gets cured completely, but a healthy lifestyle can help in maintaining blood sugar levels without medication, and if not followed, can again cause blood sugar fluctuations.[ii]
A healthy lifestyle is governed by what you eat, how much you eat, combinations of the food you eat, your physical activity and stress.[iii]
Managing your food for managing your sugar level
If you are a diabetic, you should know about the food you are eating. Key points to note are:
- Eat a well-balanced diet that includes complex carbs, fiber, fats, proteins and essential vitamins and minerals.
- Have 3 main meals and 3 in - between meals on time to avoid hypoglycaemia (blood sugar levels lower than the normal).
- You must be careful about your carbohydrate intake. Know how much portion size is appropriate for you as directed by your doctor or nutritionist and keep a count of it.
- Choose your carbs wisely. Include High-fiber cereals and breads made from whole grains over white bread, sugary cereals, refined pastas, or rice. If having rice, choose brown rice over white rice as brown rice is a healthier alternative due to its low glycemic response and its high fiber content, and it contains vitamins and minerals compared to white rice. For the flour, have any whole grain flour as it has a lot of fiber.
- Include foods rich in soluble dietary fiber as they help you to feel fuller, lower the blood cholesterol and stabilise your blood glucose levels. You can get soluble fiber from oats, oat bran, linseeds, barley, fruit (like apples, oranges, blue berries) and vegetables (like cucumbers, carrots, celery), nuts, beans, pulses, soya, and lentils.
- Try avoiding simple sugars as much as possible as they easily get absorbed and have a high glycaemic index (GI).
- Do not forget to include lot of fresh vegetable and fruits in your daily diet as they are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks and processed foods that are loaded with sugar if your sugar levels are already high. These food items can cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Do a check of the food labels of any product that you might be consuming.
- Include adequate amount of high-quality protein in your diet as protein gives you a feeling of fullness.
- For snacking, avoid fast foods, especially those high in sugar, baked goods, sweets, chips, desserts. Instead choose nuts, vegetable soup or a fruit.
- Avoid fasting and feasting both
Managing exercise to manage your sugar level
We can never undermine the importance of exercise in our life. With our changing lifestyles, all the conveniences coming to our doorstep, our mobility has become very less. Hence, making exercise a part of our daily routine is even more important. Exercising plays an important role in the prevention and management of diabetes. Exercise can reduce the glucose in your blood as it enhances the action of hormones. Due to exercise, your muscle cells can easily use available hormones to take up all the glucose from blood. Contraction in your muscles due to exercise enables the cells to take up glucose and use it for energy. Regular exercise not only helps in managing diabetes but also other complications like heart and kidney problems.[iv]
Manage your stress to manage your sugar level
Stress causes body to produce hormones that can lead to high blood sugar level. Monitor the pattern between your stress and sugar levels to understand how stress is impacting your sugar levels. This would help you address your stress by avoiding situations that causes you stress and adopting some relaxation techniques.[v]
While stress might not be completely in your hand, but diet and exercise can be managed by you. A 30-45 mins of exercise daily or as prescribed by your doctor, along with a well-balanced fiber rich diet can help you manage your sugar better. Having a fiber nutrition with your meals will aid in your efforts of sugar control.
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