tips to control diabetes
Metabolic Health

How to Control Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition in which your body is unable to convert the sugar present in the food we eat and use it for producing energy. Due to this, there is an excess buildup of sugar in the bloodstream. Uncontrolled diabetes can result in several serious consequences, such as damage to internal tissues and organs, including the eyes, nerves, kidneys, and heart. The cause of diabetes depends on the type of diabetes you have.

Type 1 Diabetes: Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body starts attacking the insulin-producing cells present in the pancreas and destroys them. Without insulin, the cells cannot properly utilize glucose for energy, and thus, glucose builds up in the bloodstream. Type 1 diabetes is an immune system disorder and may be triggered by a virus or due to genetic factors as well.

Type 2 diabetes: If you have type 2 diabetes, your body’s cells malfunction and don’t allow insulin to perform its job. As a result, the pancreas is unable to make enough insulin to overcome this resistance, and the glucose levels in the bloodstream rise.

Though there is no complete cure, Diabetes can be kept under control by adopting some healthy practices. Here are some of the most effective diabetes control tips to help you keep your blood sugar levels in check.

Healthy Diet

Consuming a healthy diet is the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle, irrespective of if you have diabetes. However, people living with diabetes need to understand how certain foods affect the level of blood sugar in our bodies. Not only do they need to know the right diabetes control food to eat, but also the right quantity and the right combination. Here is a rundown of some of the best food for diabetes control and how diabetes can be controlled the best way using the right foods.

  • Counting carbohydrates and controlling portion sizes is the key to proper diabetes control. Carbohydrates impact blood sugar levels in the biggest way.
  • Use a scale or measuring cup to ensure you consume the right portion size to keep the blood sugar in control.
  • Make sure that all your meals are well-balanced. Each meal should contain a good mix of vegetables, fruits, starches, fats, and proteins.
  • Choose the right kind of carbohydrates. Certain food categories act as diabetes control foods, such as fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. They have low amounts of carbs and fiber, which help keep blood sugar levels in check.
  • Sugar-laden sweets and beverages cause blood sugar levels to rise rapidly. Due to this, they should be avoided entirely if you have diabetes.

Exercise

Being physically active is another essential facet of controlling Type 2 diabetes. When we exercise, the muscles produce energy by using up the sugar present in the blood. Exercising regularly also helps the body to use insulin efficiently. As a result, the blood sugar level is lowered. The more you exert, the longer the effect will last. However, light physical activities such as walking, gardening, and housework can also help you control diabetes.

Discuss an exercise plan with your doctor. Ask them about the type of exercises that are right for you. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic activity daily. An intense workout can lower your blood sugar even up to a day later. So make sure to check your levels before and after exercise. If you take insulin and your blood sugar is below 90 mg/dL, make sure to eat a snack before you begin exercising to avoid lowering your blood sugar level excessively.

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Reduce Stress

When we feel stressed, our body produces certain hormones that can cause blood sugar levels to rise. You may also find it harder to stick to your diabetes management plan if you are under a lot of stress. If you have been feeling stressed lately, try some relaxation techniques. Avoid the common stress triggers as much as possible. Learn strategies to cope with stress. Working with a clinical social worker or psychologist may also help.

Quit Smoking

Smoking can be extremely dangerous for people with diabetes as both are known to narrow the blood vessels. This narrowing of the blood vessels puts extra pressure on the heart and causes it to work harder. Quitting smoking will help lower your risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney diseases, nerve diseases, and diabetic eye diseases. It will help improve your blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well. Your blood circulation will be better, and it will be easier for you to exercise as well.

If you are in the habit of smoking, stop now! Take help from your doctor or counselor and give up this dangerous habit as soon as possible.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydrates and diabetes go hand in hand. Dry mouth and excessive thirst, in fact, are both signs of dehydration and indicators of diabetes. When we have diabetes, our body cannot produce and use insulin efficiently. Insulin helps the cells in our body to absorb sugar from the bloodstream and use it to produce energy. When the body is unable to use insulin properly, the excess sugar starts accumulating in the bloodstream. When the blood sugar remains high for a long period, the kidneys have to work extra hard to remove this excess glucose via urination. This can lead to dehydration, especially if you do not replenish the lost fluids.

Drinking water will not only keep dehydration at bay but also helps the body remove excess glucose easily. If you have diabetes, drink lots of fluids, at least 2 liters per day, to fight dehydration. Add fresh lemon or lime juice to plain water for extra flavor. You can also drink herbal teas, sugar-free coffee, or skim milk. However, avoid energy drinks, sodas, and fruit juices as they contain a lot of sugar.

The 10 Best Foods to Control Diabetes

Diabetes is a long-term issue that happens when the blood sugar levels are on a spike and the pancreas stops producing insulin that helps in converting sugar into energy or is not able to use the insulin properly. Diet is the main factor that is essential to control the blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes and diabetes. Along with the diet, the other factors that contribute to managing blood glucose levels are stress, body weight, and genetics.

Some foods that are rich in carbs and have added sugars in them can fluctuate the sugar levels while foods rich in fibre and proteins can optimize blood glucose control and promote overall health.

The best foods for diabetes control and that improve overall health are as under -

  • Broccoli – Broccoli contains a chemical called sulforaphane, which is a type of isothiocyanate which is known to have blood glucose-reducing properties. This chemical is produced when a chemical reaction takes place between a glucosinolate compound called glucoraphanin and the myrosinase enzyme when the broccoli is chopped or chewed.
    Broccoli extract has some powerful antidiabetic effect which improves insulin sensitivity and manages sugar levels.
    Broccoli sprouts are filled with concentrated sources of glucosinolates which reduce glucose levels by promoting insulin sensitivity.
  • Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds – Pumpkin is rich in fibre and antioxidants which are very helpful in regulating glucose levels.Pumpkin seeds are a good source of proteins and healthy fats and so including them in your diet can maintain the sugar levels in the body.
  • Okra – Okra contains some compounds like polysaccharides and flavonoid antioxidants which are blood glucose-lowering compounds. Okra seeds have blood sugar-lowering properties and so are used as a natural remedy to treat diabetes in some places. Okra inhibits certain enzymes due to the presence of flavonoids called isoquercitrin and quercetin 3-O-gentiobioside which helps in lowering sugar levels.
  • Chia seeds – Chia seeds promote insulin sensitivity and maintain sugar levels. It also helps in reducing the risk of diabetes. It is rich in antioxidants, fibre, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids which are great for reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Berries – Berries are a rich source of fibre, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants which are excellent for maintaining the sugar levels in the body. Raspberry when taken with a high-carb diet can reduce the spike in the sugar level in prediabetic people.  Berries such as strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries are beneficial to manage glucose levels by elevating insulin sensitivity and enhancing glucose clearance from the blood.
  • Oats and oats bran – Oats contain a high amount of soluble fibre which has significant glucose-reducing properties. Oats are known to reduce the HbA1C and fasting blood sugar levels in comparison to other meal options.
    Oat bran when mixed with water and consumed in place of plain water cab reduce post-meal sugar levels.
  • Eggs – Eggs are packed with nutrition such as protein, vitamins, healthy fats, minerals and antioxidants which are helpful to control sugar levels better. Eggs improve insulin sensitivity and also reduce the risk of diabetes by up to 40 per cent.
    According to a study, people who are overweight or obese and who are prediabetic or diabetic showed a significant reduction in fasting blood sugar levels when they consumed one egg every day.
  • Apples – Apples consist of soluble fibre and plant compounds like quercetin, chlorogenic acid and gallic acid and hence are known to reduce the sugar level and protect against diabetes. Consuming apples regularly can reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
  • Citrus fruits – Citrus fruits like grapefruit and oranges are rich in fibre and also contain naringenin, which is a plant compound that has amazing anti-diabetic properties. Although some citrus fruits are sweet, they help in the reduction of blood sugar levels as they have a low glycemic index.
    Consuming whole citrus fruits improve insulin sensitivity, protects against the risk of diabetes and reduces HbA1C.
  • Avocados – Consuming avocados are a delicious way to regulate the sugar levels in the body. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and fibre and so improve blood sugar levels. It also protects against the development of metabolic syndrome that can lead to numerous conditions like high glucose levels, high blood pressure and risk of chronic diseases.

How much food should a diabetic eat?

A person with diabetes needs to follow a diet plan that includes three main meals at regular intervals along with some healthy snacks in between. This will help the body in proper insulin secretion and use it well. Eating the correct portion is important to control blood sugar levels and also watch out the body weight.

There are two ways by which you can plan your eating patterns. They are – Plate method and the carbs counting method.

1. Plate method – This method is apt to control your portion size during lunch and dinner time. This method enables you to keep the right amount of food from each of the groups of food that you need to eat.

In this method, all you need is a 9-inch plate which you should fill up with different groups of food. Fill up the plate to half with non-starchy vegetables. Take some meat or any other protein in one-fourth of the plate. Add some starchy veggies like peas and corn or grains in the other one-fourth. Along with this, you can add a piece of fruit or a small bowl of fruit and drink a glass of milk.  

Create your plate by finding the different combination of food that suits your body and helps you in managing your glucose levels.

2. Carbohydrate counting – Keeping a tab of carbs that you take is essential because the carbs turn into glucose and affect the sugar levels in the body. Therefore, count the number of carbs that you eat and drink. Carbs counting can help you maintain your glucose levels and guide you on how much insulin you need to take. It is specifically for people who take insulin and may not be needed for all people with diabetes. As carbs are measured in grams, you can about the carbs present in each food that you take. Check the label to find out and estimate the carbs that you are taking and total them to get your carbs to intake in grams.

Try and avoid foods that are rich in carbs and added sugar such as refined grains, white rice, white bread, sweets etc.

Best exercises for diabetes

A diabetes meal plan when paired with healthy lifestyle changes and physical activities, it helps in keeping blood sugar levels stable. A regular exercise routine can regulate your sugar levels along with keeping you fit and make you strong. Exercising is the best diabetes control tip to keep you active along with preventing the risk of diabetes and all the complications related to it. Some of the exercises which you can include in your daily life are as follows –

  • Walking – Walking is an easy exercise to start with. It is enjoyed by most people as it is a low-impact activity. Walking improves glucose levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. 30 minutes of brisk walking is also good for heart health.
  • Cycling – Cycling is great for people with diabetes as helps in maintaining sugar levels. Regular cycling can boost your heart health along with keeping your lungs healthy. It is also helpful in improving your body posture and balance.
  • Dancing – Dancing is a fun activity that is enjoyed by all groups of people. It is an ideal exercise to keep diabetes at bay. It is great for heart health and also improves your fitness.
  • Water aerobics – Water aerobics is an effective way to improve the glucose levels in the body. It is easy on the joints and improves blood circulation. Swimming can boost heart health by stimulating the heartbeat, reducing blood pressure and strengthening the heart muscles.
  • Yoga – Yoga is beneficial as it improves the strength, flexibility and balance in a person. It is a low-impact movement that involves meditation and breathing. This is great for older people and helpful in controlling blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Bottomline

Blood sugar levels can be successfully managed in many ways. Making lifestyle changes, consuming diabetes control food in moderation, keeping your weight in check, improving sleep quality, managing stress, staying active, and staying hydrated are some of the easiest yet best ways to improve your quality of life when living with diabetes. Consult your healthcare provider to make a tailored plan for managing diabetes and knowing the best food for diabetes control.

FAQs

What are diabetes controlled fruits?

Among the best diabetes control tips, the ones that would play a key role would be diet and exercise. Even the diet-related tips need to be specific and people need to make sure to follow them to the fullest. Here are some of the best fruits that a person with diabetes could consume – blackberries, strawberries, oranges, apples, pears, etc 

Make sure that even while eating fruit, you are fully aware of the glycemic index and are maintaining healthy portion control while consuming fruits. A combination of fruits and nuts would also be a good idea to lower the glycemic index in case it is high.

What is the best exercise for sugar control?

When you have diabetes, everything that you do needs to be managed and calculated well. Even physical activities have to be planned out – one cannot work out with a very high sugar level, similarly, exercising during hypoglycemia is equally dangerous. Here are some of the tips for diabetes control regarding exercises:

  1. Walking – the easiest aerobic exercise that one can do, is walking. 
  2. Yoga – diabetes, and yoga have a strong connection and it can be helpful to stimulate the pancreas
  3. Dance – Dance workouts help to burn fat and excess energy in the body. These can also help to lower blood sugar levels overall.
  4. Strength training – Focusing on specific muscle groups can help deal with diabetes better.

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