Ways to reduce your diabetes

Ways to reduce your diabetes

8 Mar 2019
Stefano Mirabello Medical Reviewer
Pharmacist / B.Pharm

What is diabetes?

There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is where your blood glucose level is too high because your body can not make a hormone called insulin. This happens when your body attacks cells in your pancreas that normally make insulin, meaning you can’t produce any at all. Insulin normally allows glucose in your blood to enter cells and provide energy for your body.

With type 1 diabetes, your body still breaks down the carbohydrate from food into glucose. But there’s no insulin to help it get into your body’s cells. Glucose builds up in your bloodstream, leading to high blood sugar levels.

When you have type 2 diabetes, your body still breaks down carbohydrates from your food and drink into glucose and your pancreas still releases insulin, but because this insulin can’t work properly, your blood sugar levels keep rising.

Before diabetes, there is a period where your blood sugar levels are high but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. This is prediabetes. Up to 70% of people with prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes, but going from prediabetes to diabetes can be prevented.

If you don’t lower your blood sugar, you will be at an increased risk for serious health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease and vision loss. Changing your lifestyle can be a big step toward diabetes prevention. There are certain factors that can not be changed, such as your genetics, age or past behaviours, but there are things you can do to reduce the risk of diabetes.

Weight Loss. Research shows that even a 5% reduction in body weight can improve your blood sugar regulation and reduce the need for medication. Excess body fat, especially around your abdomen, can increase your body’s resistance to insulin. People with prediabetes carry excess weight in their midsection and around their abdominal organs such as the liver. This is known as visceral fat. This visceral fat promotes inflammation and insulin resistance, which significantly increases your risk of diabetes.

There are many healthy options for losing weight, including low-carb, Mediterranean, paleo and vegetarian diets. However, choosing a way of eating you can stick with long-term is key to helping you maintain weight loss. Studies have found that obese people whose blood sugar and insulin levels decreased after losing weight, experienced an increase in these values after gaining back all or a portion of the weight they lost.

Speak with a doctor or dietitian about how to incorporate a healthy diet into a diabetes care plan. Making the right food choices and following a healthy eating plan. It is important to reduce your daily calorie intake, so you can lose weight and keep it off. To do that you will need to focus on your portion sizes as well as consume less fat and sugar. Avoid foods that contain “bad carbohydrates” that are high in sugar with little fibre or nutrients. Adding protein or healthy fats helps minimize blood sugar spikes after a meal. Also, getting plenty of fibre is beneficial for your gut health and overall weight management.

Food types You should eat:

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Low-sugar cereal, porridge
  • Nuts
  • Legumes — such as beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils
  • Fish
  • Lean meats

food to Avoid:

  • Red meat and avoid processed meats
  • White bread and pastries
  • Pasta from white flour
  • Fruit juices
  • Other processed foods with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup

Make sure you read food labels and check the serving sizes.

  1. Cook food fresh, avoid processed food and takeaways as they are usually high in salt, fat and calories. It’s best to cook for yourself using fresh ingredients whenever possible
  2. Limit your alcohol intake. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to weight gain and may increase your blood pressure and triglyceride levels, stick to the RDA for alcohol consumption
  3. Quit smoking. Smoking has a big link to diabetes and smokers are twice as likely to develop diabetes as non-smokers
  4. Control your blood pressure. You should be able to control your blood pressure if you increase your physical activity, eat a balanced diet and keep to a healthy weight. If your blood pressure is still high and you have made these changes, speak to your GP
  5. Exercise! Increasing your physical exercise is key to managing your weight. Exercise increases insulin secretion and sensitivity. Try to do a little exercise each day, even a 15min walk or short exercise classes can help. Take the stairs over the lift, leave your desk at lunch for a quick power walk or find a sport or activity you can partake in. Moderate physical activity on most days of the week helps manage weight, reduce blood glucose levels and may also improve your blood pressure and cholesterol
  6. Check-ups! Make sure you have regular check-ups with your GP, to check your blood pressure and cholesterol
  7. Drinking water regularly could help you keep your blood sugar levels within healthy ranges. As well as preventing dehydration, it helps your kidneys flush out any excess sugar through urine. Studies have shown that if you drink more water you have a lower risk of developing high blood sugar levels

Keep in mind that water and other zero-calorie drinks are best. Avoid drinks containing sweeteners, as these can raise blood glucose, drive weight gain and increase your risk of diabetes.

There are many ways to naturally manage your blood sugar levels. They include making lifestyle changes, such as managing your weight, your stress levels, the quality of your sleep, exercising, and staying hydrated. Having said that, some of the biggest improvements you can make are your dietary choices.

Talk to a healthcare professional before making lifestyle changes or trying new supplements, especially if you have problems with blood sugar management or are taking medications. To learn more about the symptoms of diabetes and its risk factors see your doctor or dietician.

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