The Diabetes Guide: How To Balance Your Blood Sugar
Eating a balanced diet and adopting a healthy, active, stress-free lifestyle can slow the progression of diabetes. Here are research-backed, quick lifestyle tips you can implement right away. From portion control to choosing the right nutrients, do these to delay or prevent the diabetic complications.
When Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s husband, Nick Jonas, the American singer, songwriter and actor, posted on Instagram on how he controlled his type-1 diabetes, he motivated millions of others. Nick wrote that he prioritised his physical health, worked out, ate healthy and kept his blood sugar in constant check to control the sugar fluctuation.
One in six people with diabetes in the world is from India. The good news is that eating a balanced diet and adopting a healthy, active, stress-free lifestyle can slow the progression of diabetes.
What Is Diabetes And Prediabetes?
- Diabetes: Diabetes is a condition where your blood sugar levels are abnormally high.
Symptoms include increased hunger, frequent urination, fatigue, blurry vision and unhealed sores. When a person is diabetic, either the body does not make enough insulin or does not effectively utilise the insulin the body makes. Diabetes is mainly divided into two types–type 1 and type 2. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce any insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin or the insulin it produces does not work properly.
- Prediabetes: Prediabetes is a condition where you have a higher-than-normal blood sugar but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Symptoms in some people include development of dark, thick, patches of skin and discoloration around the neck, knees, armpits, and elbows. Prediabetes occurs in a person when his/her body cells do not respond properly to insulin—also known as insulin resistance. Poor lifestyle factors and genetics are also one of the common reasons behind the development of prediabetes. World Journal of Diabetes says that the effective lifestyle modifications with regards to diabetes prevention has a relative risk reduction of 40-70% in adults with prediabetes. A research funded by Indian Council of Medical Research says that the overall prevalence of prediabetes in India in 2017 stands at an average of 10.3%.
Can Diabetes Be Reversed?
- Type 2 diabetes may be reversed: Studies find that it is possible to reverse diabetes. Researchers at University of Glasgow in Scotland say that losing weight helps one in this endeavour. “Greater awareness and consistent documentation of sugar levels can improve reversible diabetes outcomes,” quotes a study in Nutrients, 2019 journal.
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant, internal medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi says that be it diabetes, or pre-diabetes, there is an overwhelming importance of lifestyle interventions in controlling both short-term and long-term impact of diabetes. “We can say that both medicines and lifestyle changes together make 100 percent of the treatment for diabetes”.
Science-backed Essential Tips To Manage Diabetes
1. Manage your diet: Change in dietary pattern can benefit and even prevent the ill-effects of diabetes on human health. Journal of Education and Health Promotion suggests some effective measures.
- Consume carbs in the form of barley, quinoa, brown-rice, whole-grain bread, beans, sweet-potatoes and oatmeal. Choosing healthy and good carbs provides plenty of energy without causing blood sugar spikes.
- Avoid all refined sugars such as glucose, sucrose, and their products (soft drinks, sweets, toffees, etc.) and honey should be avoided. These have simple sugar that causes rapid rise in blood sugar.
- Substitute normal sugar with non-nutritive sweeteners such as canderel, saccharine, nutraSweet, and aspartame.
- Reduce consumption of animal fat such as butter, lard, egg yolk, and other foods that are high in saturated fatty acids and cholesterol.
- Go high fiber. Aim for 40 grams of fiber a day. Load up on fruits, vegetables and beans high in fiber.
- Reduce the salt intake. The amount of salt affects blood pressure (BP). Diabetic people are more likely to be affected by high BP
- Avoid smoking. High levels of nicotine lessens the effectiveness of insulin.
- Use alcohol in moderation. Excessive alcohol impacts the liver, an organ that also regulates blood sugar.
- Drink a lot of water. Include green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, onions, cucumber, aubergine, peppers, vegetable salad in your daily diet.
- Choose tea variants that are unsweetened and help optimise diabetic control. Green tea, black tea, hibiscus tea, and cinnamon tea are known for its antidiabetic properties.
- Have small meals spaced over the day, rather than 1 or 2 big meals. These help in avoiding post-pyramidal peaks in blood sugar.
2. Work on your weight loss: Journal Diabetes Spectrum finds that people who had an average weight loss of 5.6 kg in 2 ½ years had a 58% relative reduction in the risk of management of type-2 diabetes.
- Include aerobic exercise that includes continuous rhythmic movement of large muscle groups such as walking, jogging and cycling. As per ADA(American Diabetic Association doing 30 minutes of exercise a day is an essential part of diabetes care.
- Undergo resistance training. Research finds that it improves strength, bone mineral density, blood pressure, lipid profiles, cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity and muscle mass–helping in diabetes management.
3. Address your mental stress, sleeping issues, your culture and surrounding environment: According to research published in American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine another best way to manage diabetes includes taking care of lifestyle plans including behavior patterns, culture and surrounding environment.
- Try to maintain your inner calm. An effective step to reduce stress, it further helps reduce the severity of diabetes.
- Read a book you like, engage in a hobby or spend some time outdoors in nature. Studies find that these are effective to lessen mental stress.
- Maintain a sleep schedule. A good, quality sleep helps heal faster.
COVID-19 And Diabetes
“It’s quite clear that people with diabetes do much worse than people without diabetes when affected by COVID,” says Dr Chatterjee. These people are at an increased risk of developing serious symptoms of COVID-19. According to the journal Diabetes Care people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are 3 times more likely to be hospitalised or experience severe COVID-19 illness compared with people without diabetes. What’s the way out? “Take vaccinations on time and follow healthy lifestyle measures—as suggested above,” says the doctor. “Balanced diet, exercise, good sleep, relaxation measures are all quintessential to bolster immunity—something that is important in both diabetes and covid-19.”