Diabetes is detected by a series of blood tests that measure your blood sugar levels. But detecting it is just the first step. Once you know you have diabetes, you need to sit up and take things under your control. Managing diabetes is not just about keeping your sugar levels down. It is also about fixing the actual problem that caused diabetes in the first place.
Focussing on controlling just one aspect of the problem (blood sugar or insulin) will ignore all the other factors like poor diet, toxins, stress, weight management, and exercise. A single-pronged approach will only make insulin resistance worse and might eventually lead to insulin-dependent diabetes. So instead, manage diabetes with the help of simple, natural methods.
Lifestyle Tweaks To Manage Diabetes
1. Follow The Right Diet
Diet management is an essential part of diabetes management that focuses on controlling blood sugar levels through careful food monitoring. To stabilize blood sugar, you should eat small meals throughout the day and avoid all foods that rapidly spike blood sugar levels. A low-glycemic, nutrient-dense diet can, in many cases, dramatically reduce or even eliminate the need for insulin injections and oral medications. Here are a few tips you can follow:
- Increase the amount of nutrient-dense, low-glycemic foods such as dark, green leafy vegetables, whole-grain bread, and sprouts.
- Eat more fiber to stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Increase omega-3 intake, which is found in fish oil, sea food, sprouted nuts and seeds, and flax. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids can lower triglyceride levels, plaque buildup in the arteries, and the risk of heart disease in diabetics, who are usually at a higher risk.
- Try to add certain fats in your diet. Not all fats are bad, and a healthy balance of good fats is more important than eliminating all fats. Watch out for deceptively low-fat food products that are high in refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, and unhealthy processed carbs — all of which worsen diabetes.1
Foods To Avoid
- Sweetened fruit juices and carbonated sweet drinks, since they spike blood sugar levels rapidly
- Processed foods, deep-fried foods, fast food, and junk food
- Smoking and alcoholic beverages, which also spike the levels
- Fruits that have a high glycemic index (go for those that score low on the glycemic index)
- All simple or refined carbohydrates (white flour, white rice, white bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, crackers, and processed snack foods)
- All foods containing refined sugar or artificial sugar substitutes as they may increase the risk of (or worsen) diabetes2
2. Exercise Regularly
Another essential component for regulating blood sugar levels is exercise. An inactive lifestyle can lead to obesity, a condition that generally coexists with diabetes. You need to follow a regular exercise routine that can include walking, yoga, aerobics, or any sport you like.
If you do not have the time, practice quick high-intensity 6–10 minute workouts. Try to be out in the sun to stock up on your share of vitamin D. If you have diabetes, you need to know that starting any type of activity or exercise is the first step toward successful diabetes management.3
3. Maintain A Healthy Weight
Being a diabetic, if you are not in the ideal weight range, you need to focus on bringing your weight under control through exercise and diet. Controlling your weight will help in managing diabetes effectively.
4. Reduce Stress
Our body functions as a whole unit. When one hormone or a part of the endocrine system suffers, it induces a chain reaction in the system. High levels of stress trigger the release of excess cortisol that can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, reduce the fat burning ability, raise insulin, suppress thyroid function, and also increase belly fat. Stress due to lack of quality sleep, even for just a few nights, can elevate cortisol, decrease insulin sensitivity, and increase blood sugar.4
Diabetes is a chronic condition. Lifestyle modification, strict medication, and constant monitoring is the key to handling diabetes and making life easier.
|↑1||Evert, Alison B., et al. “Nutrition therapy recommendations for the management of adults with diabetes.” Diabetes care 37.Supplement 1 (2014): S120-S143.|
|↑2||Dietary recommendations for diabetes: American Diabetes Association. “Nutrition principles and recommendations in diabetes.” Diabetes care 27.suppl 1 (2004): s36-s36.|
|↑3||Colberg Sheri. Exercise and Diabetes: A Clinician’s Guide to Prescribing Physical Activity. American Diabetes Association, 2013.|
|↑4||Dr. Diana Guthrie PhD, BC-ADM, CDE, FAADE, Dr. Richard Guthrie MD, FACE. Management of Diabetes Mellitus: A Guide to the Pattern Approach, Sixth Edition. Springer Publishing Company, 2008.|