For diabetics, it’s the Holy Grail: checking their blood sugar and seeing the numbers line up. Can a change in lifestyle help? Yes, says Jill Weisenberger, RDN, a Newport News, Virginia-based diabetic dietary specialist.
If you have diabetes, decreasing your blood sugar isn’t simply a short-term objective; it also helps prevent or postpone diabetic consequences including heart, kidney, eye, and nerve problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It has the potential to completely alter the course of the disease.
“It’s critical that [type 2 diabetes patients] initially try to control their blood sugars through dietary methods,” says Jessica Crandall Snyder, RD, CDCES, of Vital RD in Denver. “For certain people, it can help not just with prevention but also with reversal of the condition.”
Making a few critical lifestyle modifications, according to Crandall Snyder, can occasionally remove the need for medicine. “It’s not enjoyable poking oneself with insulin,” she explains. “Diabetes is a disease that progresses over time, and you must learn to manage it.”
There are ten different methods to accomplish it, none of them require a prescription.
1. Monitor Your Carbohydrate Intake
It is critical for persons with type 2 diabetes to pay attention to carbs. “Carbs are what cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate,” explains Crandall Snyder.
What is the optimum carbohydrate intake per meal? Weisenberger explains, “It’s personalized to each individual.” According to the CDC, how much you exercise, your weight, and your age may all impact how long sweets linger in your system. According to the CDC, a good starting point for persons with diabetes is to restrict carb intake to 200 to 245 grams (g) per day, which equates to roughly half of your daily calories. Then, according to Crandall Snyder, make modifications based on your blood glucose levels or as directed by a dietician.
Remember that carbohydrates aren’t just found in the traditional suspects like bread, potatoes, and pasta. They can also be found in fruits, vegetables, sweets, and dairy, therefore Crandall Snyder advises taking all of these into account.
2. Limit Your Consumption of Large Meals:
Eating in moderation is one approach to keep carbohydrates under control. Weisenberger adds, “I always urge my patients to spread their eating out throughout the course of the day.” “Don’t skip meals in order to save money for a large dinner.” According to Crandall Snyder, feeding your body throughout the day helps manage blood sugar levels and avoids highs and lows.
Even while nibbling, Weisenberger and Crandall Snyder advise keeping an eye on carbohydrates. “A decent standard strategy is fewer than 15 g of carbohydrates every snack,” Crandall Snyder explains. She claims that’s approximately the amount in a cup of fruit.
3. Get plenty of fiber
For blood sugar regulation, fiber is another nutrient to keep an eye on, although in this case, the more the better! According to Crandall Snyder, it can assist you to maintain a healthy blood sugar level. According to a review published in September 2017 in Advances in Obesity Weight Management & Control, it can help you lose weight and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Fiber also serves as a prophylactic measure. According to a March 2018 research published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, high-fiber diets can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by 15 to 19 percent when compared to low-fiber diets.
According to the Mayo Clinic, fiber may be found in plant foods including raspberries, peas, and whole grains. Beans are another high-fiber food. According to research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, people with type 2 diabetes who ate at least a cup of legumes (beans, chickpeas, and lentils) daily for three months had lower blood glucose levels as determined by the A1C test. (According to MedlinePlus, A1C is a method of determining your average blood glucose levels over a three-month period.) According to the National Institutes of Health, beans are also high in folate, which has been linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, a major diabetic consequence.
According to the Mayo Clinic, males should consume 30 to 38 grams of fiber per day, while women should consume 21 to 25 grams.
4. Obtain More High-Quality Shuteye
Poor or insufficient sleep has an impact on body chemistry, and obtaining more sleep helps with blood sugar regulation, according to Weisenberger. According to small research published in Diabetologia in February 2015, chronic lack of sleep may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. The researchers discovered that healthy individuals who slept for only four hours three nights in a row had greater amounts of fatty acids in their blood, which lowered insulin’s capacity to control blood sugar by roughly 23%. According to Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine, a lack of sleep is connected to numerous health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and stroke.
Aim for seven to nine hours of unbroken sleep every night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Do you have difficulties sleeping? Follow the National Sleep Foundation’s recommendations:
- In the hours leading up to bedtime, sleep in a cool, dark area and avoid ingesting alcohol or caffeine.
Even on weekends, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
For at least a half-hour before night, avoid all displays, including TV, tablets, mobile phones, and laptops.
5.Shed a Pound or Two
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, being overweight is one of the leading causes of insulin resistance, which prevents the blood sugar-lowering hormone from acting correctly.
Your weight-loss objectives don’t have to be lofty. According to Weisenberger, several of her patients have observed changes in blood glucose levels after losing just five pounds. It’s logical: Weight loss of 5 to 10% of body weight enhanced insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, according to research published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. “Small moves in the correct direction,” says Crandall Snyder, “may generate tremendous benefits in improvement or prevention.”
6. Increase Your Water Consumption
Staying hydrated is a simple method to keep your blood sugar under control. According to a recent study, the more water study participants drank, the lower their chances of developing high blood sugar were. People who drank fewer than 12 liters of water per day had a higher chance of having blood sugar problems, according to the study.
Water is thought to aid in the removal of glucose from the body. “Diluting your blood sugar and reducing your blood sugar in a healthy way may be incredibly useful,” Crandall Snyder adds.
7. Get a Grip on Your Stress
When you’re anxious, your blood sugar levels tend to rise, according to Crandall Snyder. When you’re worried, insulin levels drop, some hormones rise, and more glucose is produced from the liver, which ends up in the bloodstream and can create problems for up to eight hours, according to the Diabetes Teaching Center at the University of California in San Francisco.
How can you get rid of stress? Weisenberger claims that yoga and meditation can help people reduce their blood sugar levels. After 12 weeks, research involving 27 nursing students published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science indicated that a combination of yoga and meditation performed for one hour once a week resulted in decreased stress levels and blood glucose levels.
Take a few deep breaths, go on a stroll, play with your dog for a few minutes, or listen to nice music, according to Crandall Snyder. Basically, she advises, “do anything you can to divert yourself for a few minutes and just lessen your breathing rate.” According to the CDC, having less water in your body is associated with having a higher blood sugar level.
8. Never Forget to Eat Breakfast
Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day. This is especially true for diabetic patients. “I believe that having breakfast is critical, especially given the danger of hypoglycemia and the need to prevent possible highs associated with fasting for an extended length of time,” Crandall Snyder adds.
According to studies from the University of Missouri-Columbia, a high-protein breakfast provides an advantage over a high-carbohydrate meal. Women between the ages of 18 and 55 ate meals that were equivalent in calories, fat, and fiber content but differed in protein content. For four hours after the individuals ate breakfast, researchers measured the quantity of glucose and insulin in their blood. According to the researchers, the best breakfasts included 39 grams of protein and resulted in smaller post-meal glucose rises than meals with less protein.
Furthermore, eating breakfast may assist overweight persons with type 2 diabetes in losing weight. 78 percent of National Weight Control Registry participants who sustained a 30-pound weight loss for at least a year indicated they ate breakfast every day.
9. Increase the amount of resistant starch on your plate
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, resistant starch skips the small intestine and ferments in the large intestine, which means it doesn’t elevate glucose levels and stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria in the body. Joelle Malinowski, RD, certified diabetic care and education expert at Ellis Medicine in Schenectady, New York, says it’s a fiber-filled grain that helps with glycemic management. And, according to Weisenberger, the impact will persist until your next meal. “It’s referred to as the second-meal impact,'” she explains.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, resistant starch changes with heat, and some foods, such as rice, have more resistant starch when cooked and chilled than when prepared and served warm.
Starches that are resistant to degradation can also be found in:
- Plantains and bananas that aren’t ripe
- Lentils, beans, and peas
- Oats and barley are examples of whole grains.
When introducing foods containing resistant starch into your diet, bear in mind the carb content.
10. Increase your daily movement.
According to the American Diabetes Association, exercise improves blood glucose in patients with type 2 diabetes by boosting insulin sensitivity and the body’s capacity to utilize glucose for energy. “Exercise improves insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes,” says James G. Beckerman, MD, a cardiologist in Portland, Oregon. “As a result, blood sugar levels are lower.”
Exercise, according to Crandall Snyder, is like spring cleaning for the body. “It uses the stored form of glucose for energy so there’s a place for it the next time you ingest carbs,” she explains.
Working with your healthcare provider to identify the proper amount of activity and time for you is important since exercise can quickly lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. According to research published in Frontiers in Endocrinology in September 2017, exercising 30 minutes after the start of a meal is typically the best way to maintain blood sugar management.