It’s Simple — Take Care of Your Body Every Day
You recently found out that you are prediabetic or moving in that direction with higher than acceptable blood sugar levels.
You are concerned and do not want to go on medication.
You have heard that blood sugar can be controlled through diet and believe it is worth a shot.
Your intel is correct. The most direct way to impact blood sugar levels is through a healthy diet.
Rather than think in terms of “diet” think it terms of “lifestyle.”
Make Smart Choices
Living a healthy lifestyle and making smart food choices will minimize the risk of high blood sugar and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Making smart choices is not complicated. All that is required is a commitment to taking care of your body so that it can serve you for many years to come — as it was meant to do.
The following are seven important pieces of information to remember.
All Carbs Are NOT Created Equal
Blood sugar or blood glucose is directly affected by the foods you eat — especially carbohydrates. They are converted into glucose and enter the bloodstream as blood sugar.
Because carbohydrates have the largest impact on blood sugar levels, it is important to be aware of your intake.
When you consistently consume large amounts of sugar, the pancreas will secrete extra insulin. Eventually, it won’t be able to produce enough to keep blood glucose at normal levels.
Sometimes carbs get a bad rap, but they are actually good for you and necessary for the body as fuel. They also protect against disease and help control weight.
But . . . all carbs are not created equal.
Each carb has a Glycemic Index (GI) or ranking based on how they affect blood glucose. Carbs with a GI index of 55 or less digest slowly, creating a lower and slower rise in blood glucose. These are called “complex carbs.”
Carbs with a GI index closer to 100 are broken down and enter the bloodstream quickly, causing a spike in blood sugar. They are called “simple carbs.”
Consuming low GI carbohydrate sources can keep blood sugar levels within the normal range.
Foods with a low Glycemic Index (GI) include:
- Sweet potatoes and yams
- Some fruits (cherries, apples, oranges, plums, grapefruit)
- Vegetables (celery, asparagus, broccoli, avocados, cauliflower)
Choose wisely the types of carbohydrates you include in your diet.
- Eat fiber-rich, whole fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables without added sugar.
- Always eat whole grains. Refined grains (white flour and white flour products) are stripped of most of the nutrients and fiber.
- Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products are good sources of calcium and protein, plus many other vitamins and minerals. Watch for added sugars like sweetened yogurts.
- Legumes — which include beans, peas, and lentils — are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. They are typically low in fat and high in protein (making them a good substitute for meat), folate, potassium, iron, magnesium, and they contain beneficial fats and fiber.
- Read labels carefully and avoid added sugars – less than 10 percent of calories you consume every day should come from added sugar.
- Avoid processed foods of any kind as much as possible. Processed, sugary items have been stripped of all-natural fiber, leaving it to be rapidly metabolized into glucose.
Fiber Is Critical
Fiber in your diet is a big YES — it is good for you for many reasons.
— Feeds gut bacteria.
— Nourishes the colon wall.
— May help you lose weight.
— Lowers cholesterol levels.
— Decreases the rise in blood sugar after high-carb meals
There are 2 different types of fiber — soluble and insoluble. Both are important for health, digestion, and preventing diseases.
Soluble fiber slows the absorption of sugar and improves blood sugar levels by controlling glucose and insulin spikes. Soluble fiber is found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables.
Insoluble fiber helps the food pass quickly though the stomach and intestines. It is found in foods such as wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains.
High fiber foods include — pears, berries, apples, bananas, carrots, broccoli, beets, legumes, quinoa, nuts and seeds, oatmeal, popcorn, and dark chocolate. (Great Choices!)
National fiber recommendations (for individuals over 50) are:
— 30g to 38g daily for men
— 25g per day for women.
Another guideline is to simply consume 14g of dietary fiber per every 1,000 calories in your diet.
The bottom line is . . . More fiber = lower blood sugar.
Excess Weight Must Go
Being overweight or obese has been clearly linked to high blood sugar and an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Even though you may not like the idea and consider it a “pain in the you-know-what” — the surest way to lose weight is by eating fewer calories than you burn (calorie counting).
The perfect partner to calorie counting is portion control, which is not easy to do when everything these days is “oversized.” Think about often are you are served enough food to feed two people.
Portion control is not a precise science, but it has been proven to be an effective way to lose weight.
For more information on portion control, check out my book, WOW! You Look Fantastic(available through Amazon).
The best ways to make counting calories and portion control easier are:
- Use a food scale: it can be difficult to accurately determine caloric intake without determining precise serving sizes
- Use an app: there are several easy-to-use free apps that will record calories and servings.
- Learn to read food labels: They provide calories per servings — but the servings can be misleading (you think a package is one serving when it’s actually two or three.)
- Eat slower: Studies have shown the speed at which you eat can have a direct effect on obesity, BMI, and waist circumference. Eating slower may also prevent weight gain.
Four Additional Steps
Diet may be the most direct and obvious way to keep your weight within healthy levels and help you control blood sugar.
But, there are four other factors in the success formula for building and sustaining a healthy body and help prevent Type 2 Diabetes.
Getting enough good rest is essential for overall health and well-being.
Sleep lowers stress, strengthens your immune system, and decreases blood pressure. It is also critical for good mental health including alertness, memory, and mood regulation.
Poor sleeping habits also affect blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity.
Studies show when people do not get adequate quality rest they have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The benefits of a good night’s rest are important for maintaining hormonal balance and glucose regulation.
The most important part of exercise is making the time to do it. Regular exercise (at least 5 days a week) in conjunction with a proper diet can help you maintain or lose weight.
When you exercise, blood sugar is more effectively used for energy and muscle contraction. A single bout of exercise can increase insulin sensitivity for up to sixteen hours.
Monitor Blood Sugar Levels
Glucose levels can vary significantly depending on many outstanding factors, like diet, sleep, and exercise. It’s important to continually monitor levels on a regular basis to get a clearer picture of health — especially if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic.
Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels will help determine where you stand. If you are pre-diabetic, it’s important to get levels down to the normal range to prevent full diabetes from occurring.
If you already have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes you must regularly check and log blood sugar levels to prevent seizures or a diabetic coma.
Discuss monitoring your blood sugar levels with your doctor and select the best method for you.
Keeping your blood sugar within normal recommended ranges is important for everyone’s overall health.
By effectively controlling these levels you are less likely to develop diabetes.
Make smart lifestyle decisions — maintain a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly.
There are no acceptable excuses when it comes to your health.
Stay healthy. Stay strong. Stay happy.
Additional Reading: Are You at Risk for Diabetes?
This article was originally published on MEDIUM – it has been removed from that platform.