Prolonged periods of elevated blood sugar levels is termed as Diabetes. It has been categorised into Type 1 and Type 2 depending on the major culprit behind the primary symptom of high blood sugar levels.
In modern days, Diabetes has become endemic and has badly affected the health situation of even the young generation. Today, Diabetes is considered to be the biggest threat to lifecycle and productivity around both developing and developed economies.
However the good news is that our bodies are amazing machines that can adapt well into changing environments and food habits! Modern Lifestyle practices that brought us to this grim state can be slowly modified to normalise the blood sugar levels and also to manage our health in a better way.
Food Habits to better manage blood sugar levels – Ahara
- Eat wholesome foods such as minimally processed carbohydrates – rolled oats, barley, buckwheat, and whole-grain flour with good amount of chaff in it.
- Add millets such as foxtail millet, barnyard millet, and protein-rich cereals such as quinoa and amaranth in your diet.
- Bring in multiple tastes or Rasa in your diet – add bitter, sour, and astringent food products such as gourds, squashes, green leafy vegetables, and tubers. Fruits such as berries and citrus fruits carry Astringent and Sour tastes, which help to curb the cravings for sugar-laden foods.
- Always try to eat locally grown food products such as cereals, fruits, and vegetables as they are best suited to your body’s requirements per season and per environment.
- Similarly, seasonal vegetables and fruits should be preferred as they constitute the required nutrients per the time of the year to balance your body’s doshas.
- Seeds and nuts should be consumed in moderation as they provide with healthy fatty acids and complex carbohydrates.
- Sweeter dried fruits such as raisins, peaches, and dates should be consumed with moderation. They should be soaked in water for at least 4-6 hours and then consumed. Soaked water can be consumed by children, given to plants, or added to cooked meals.
- Lentils, Pulses, and beans should be added as a major portion of the diet. They will provide with required protein, fiber, and also help manage hunger cum energy levels of the body.
- Include herbs and spices such as Cinnamon, Coriander, Basil, Curry Leaves, and Fenugreek in your diet. Herbs and Spices are a storehouse of nutrients and antioxidants that help to bring the balance in your bodily functions.
- Fats should constitute about 20-35% of total calories. Taking monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids is very beneficial and decrease cardiovascular disease and improve glucose metabolism.
- Increase protein intake to 1-1.5 g per Kg per day or constituent 15-20% of total calories through healthy protein sources. Research showed that a 20-30% of dietary protein intake leads to increased satiety.
- Carbohydrates should constitute 44-46% of total calories through complex carbohydrates as stated in food principles.
- Sodium consumption is limited to < 2300 mg per day. For diabetic and hypertensive patients, Sodium intake should be below 1500 mg per day.
Foods to Avoid
- Stop eating packaged snacks such as biscuits, shortcakes, and cakes as the majority of them have processed flour.
- Remove fast food from the diet altogether.
- Stop consumption of sugar-laden beverages, artificial juices, sugar-free drinks, zero calories drinks, carbonated beverages, or anything that claims to use unnatural sugar replacements/artificial sweeteners.
- Do not eat till very late in the night. Take your last meal or dinner at least 1 hour before sleeping. This will allow enough time for food to get started on the digestion process.
- Smoking and Alcohol is prohibited as it leads to hypoglycemia.
- Patients with diabetic nephropathy should limit protein intake to 0.8 g per Kg per day
- Artificial Sweeteners or any other unnatural sweet sources to satisfy the sugar syndrome.
Physical Activity is a MUST to manage blood sugar levels – Vihara
It has been widely studied and reported that physical activity in long term can help lower the blood sugar levels for Type 2 Diabetes patients.
Benefits of Physical Activity
Exercise in any form, whether walking, swimming, sport activity, running, and trekking is one of the cheapest and safest ways:
- to have a positive effect on your metabolic activity
- to lower cholesterol
- to increase mental balance
- to lower blood sugar levels
- to increase sensitivity to insulin
- to lose weight
- for stronger heart and lungs
- and for multitude of health benefits that encompass your physical and mental functions
Adopt a Physical activity per your Interest and Age
One should adopt a physical activity, duration, and regime such that it can help them stay consistent and active over a long term as that is the most important part.
It may be difficult to change your lifestyle in the beginning, however that is what is required after all as with every slight change comes a big positive impact on your health. So, GET MOVING!!
- Obesity and Diabetes are highly correlated. Hence, strenuous physical activity on daily basis is recommended should you have high BMI and gearing towards obesity.
- Moderate physical activity such as long and brisk walks and or a combination of yoga and walks is recommended for aged and persons who are not able to carry out heavy lifting.
- Hiking, Trekking, and walking in natural set-ups works out very well to increase blood circulation and also to bring mental calmness.
Weight Loss to Manage Diabetes
- At least 5% weight loss is beneficial for diabetic patients and showed improvement in lipids, blood pressure and glycemic outcomes.
- Calorie intake should be limited and meal plans should be individualised.
- Daily recommended caloric intake for men is between 1500-1800 KCal and for women is between 1200-1500 KCal.
Stress Management to lower blood sugar levels – Vichara
While good food habits and physical activity are an important aspect to normalise your blood sugar levels, a stress free mind is even more desirable than the combination of above two.
- It has been studied and reported that stress can lead to chronic hyperglycaemia by stimulating release of hormones that elevate blood sugar levels and hence worsening the situation for a Diabetic patient.
Therefore, it becomes even more imminent to lower your stress levels by engaging in activities that can help you relax. Physical activity also can help to lower down stress levels as more often than not, one feels happy about themselves and their body after a workout (besides the hormonal release and other additional positive attributions to body that help us relax after increased physical activity).
- Pursue a hobby or passion that can help you divert your mind towards a creative side.
- Go for walk in natural set-ups or near water bodies.
- Opt for spa or wellness treats to take off the mental load.
- Spend time with family and friends.
- Take time off screen and social media. DISCONNECT TO CONNECT with your inner-self.