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“When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade...with some sweetener.” We get it – the typical diabetic struggle. There are ways, however, to win every day, in the war against rising blood sugar levels. Here’s how.
Diabetes is one of the most dangerous diseases to have. If proper care is not taken, it can affect most other parts of the body. Here, we tell you a few tips on how to manage your blood sugar levels, as well as foods that lower these levels naturally:
A balanced diet – A balanced diet is a must for every diabetic. Avoid junk and processed food, desserts loaded with sugar, fried food, and other high-fat foods and drinks. However, keep in mind that healthy fats and carbohydrates are good for the body, if consumed as part of a balanced diet, otherwise you might deprive yourself of fibre, and essential vitamins and minerals. This can cause low energy and severe headaches.
Regular intake of food – Don’t go hungry for long periods of time, as that can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. Remember to never skip breakfast. When you don’t eat for extended periods of time, the liver releases glucose. Skipping meals may also lead to very low sugar levels, which can be extremely dangerous. You may also binge eat later, causing weight gain.
Hydration – Keeping yourself hydrated is important if you have diabetes. Water is a calorie-free drink, and can replace sugary and other unhealthy drinks. Additionally, diabetics tend to urinate frequently, and not replenishing the body’s fluid levels can lead to dehydration.
Exercise – Physical activity is probably one of the most important things a diabetic should be doing. It keeps your weight under control, helps in managing blood sugar levels, and keeps the other organs of the body in good working order. Losing even a few kilos will help you manage your sugar levels better.
Alcohol consumption – Drinking alcohol can cause a spike in your blood sugar levels, and then a drop a few hours later. It is better to drink in moderation, and with the advice of your doctor.
Sleep well – Lack of regular and adequate sleep can cause hunger spikes, weight gain, and an increase in blood sugar. Some studies also say that lack of enough sleep can make diabetes difficult to manage.
Vinegar – Studies have found that vinegar can help reduce the rise in post-meal blood sugar by up to 40 per cent. You can drizzle some on salads and veggies, or have a mix of apple cider vinegar and water as a pre-meal drink.
Cinnamon – Some studies have found that cinnamon is effective in reducing blood sugar levels as well as the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, through better response to insulin. You can use whole cinnamon or cinnamon extracts. Try and have Ceylon cinnamon, as that is considered to be safer, and be moderate in your consumption, as excessive cinnamon may lead to liver damage..
Blueberries – Anthocyanins, found in blueberries, inhibit certain digestive enzymes. That slows digestion, preventing blood sugar spikes post-meals. The nutrients in blueberries also improve insulin sensitivity. Anthocyanins are also found in cherries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, red cabbage, and red grapes.
Fenugreek – Studies have found that fenugreek lowers blood sugar levels in people with type 2 and type 1 diabetes, as well as those with pre-diabetes.
Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) – Foods containing MUFAs, such as avocados and olive oil, have been found to help slow the release of sugars in the bloodstream, benefiting insulin levels, and leading to better blood sugar control, especially for type 2 diabetics. A diet high in MUFAs lowers insulin resistance, and improves fasting and average blood glucose. Diabetics are also prone to cardiovascular issues, and MUFAs help prevent those by improving risk factors such as cholesterol levels, and functioning of the blood vessels. Keep in mind, though, that these should be consumed in moderation, as they are high in calories.
Chia seeds – These are known to stabilise blood sugar, prevent post-meal blood sugar spikes, and improve insulin sensitivity.
Garlic – In a study, garlic extracts were found to increase the amount of insulin available to diabetics. The study found that both garlic and onions may lower blood sugar levels.
Diabetics constantly need to manage their food and activity. They should also regularly monitor their blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes progresses over time, so it becomes increasingly important to continue to lead a healthy lifestyle.
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