According to a study in 2015 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30.3 million Americans have diabetes, and 84.1 million have pre-diabetes. Pair that with the statistic that 1 in 3 Americans are pre-diabetic and 90% of those at risk are unaware they have a likely potential of being diagnosed. It begs the question, how can you effectively manage your diagnosis if you aren’t aware it is developing?
To start, you must educate yourself and first understand the main types of diabetes. For some, such as those with type 1, it’s a genetic part of who they are, which is harder to avoid. For others, such as those with type 2, it’s entirely contingent upon diet and lifestyle. No matter which type with which you are diagnosed, lifestyle changes are imminent. You likely have to start caring about things you once ignored. Your blood sugar levels being one of them!
1. Blood sugar informs how to manage diabetes daily
Also known as blood glucose, your blood sugar levels are often a key indicator of whether or not your diabetes is being properly managed. Not only that, properly managing your diabetes benefits your overall health and can help prevent the development of other health complications like vision loss and kidney disease. However, before you can properly manage your blood sugar levels, you need to know the healthy ranges for which you’re striving. With that said, it is important to note that each person is unique, and your first step should always be consulting with your doctor to determine your personal key target ranges. For reference, standard target blood glucose ranges include:
- 80-130 before a meal
- Below 180 approximately 2 hours after the start of a meal
Checking your numbers on a regular basis gives insight into what makes your sugar levels fluctuate. Keeping a daily health journal of your eating habits, water consumption, and exercise routine can help you become more aware of your choices and how they impact your blood sugar. Tracking which foods and activities cause spikes and dips in your blood glucose levels will allow you to make better-informed decisions to properly manage your diabetes.
2. Consuming Good Fats and Whole Foods Leads to Healthy Blood Sugar
Pre-diabetes progresses to a Type 2 diagnosis when blood sugar and weight are not properly managed. To manage and maintain healthy blood sugar levels, you must increase your intake of good fats and whole foods. Whole foods are anything unaltered or in their natural state, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. These foods have several health benefits that will work with the body to activate the standard way of processing sugar. Even in the pre-diabetes stage, your body is confused about the abundance of sugar in your system, and your insulin production doesn’t work correctly. Insulin is a hormone that takes sugar out of your blood and turns it into energy or stores it, as fat, for future use. When there’s too much sugar, the body becomes overwhelmed, and creates too much insulin, leading to insulin resistance. When this happens, the cells of the body cannot use up sugar effectively, which is what causes high blood sugar levels.
It is important to know what healthy fats for diabetes are, to ensure you are incorporating the right foods into your diet to keep your blood sugar aligned. Whole foods contain nutrients, vitamins, fiber, and other ingredients that will stabilize and balance your blood sugar. Foods with good fats are full of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids. Some good fat foods include:
- Olive oil
- Fish (salmon, swordfish, sardines, tuna)
When consuming a diet rich in good fat foods, you are more likely to have regulated blood glucose than if you consume a diet rich in carbohydrates. Consuming healthy fats, while reducing refined carbohydrates ultimately nurtures your production of insulin, by lowering blood sugar levels and balancing insulin production.
From cutting or limiting sugar intake, exercising regularly, and incorporating whole foods and good fats into your diet, you will effortlessly manage your blood sugar levels. Making these alterations will help your body significantly change for the better. These positive diet changes will not only get your blood sugar in a healthy zone but can contribute to potentially reverse your diabetes diagnosis altogether.
3. Exercising Regularly Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
Another way to limit increased levels of sugar in your bloodstream and aid in managing a diabetes diagnosis is through frequent exercise. Exercising regularly is one of the most effective ways to lower blood glucose levels because it allows your muscles to absorb and use sugar for energy. When incorporating exercise into your regular routine specifically for blood sugar benefits, you should aim to engage in a variety of different physical activities and exercises. It is important to balance various intensities and types of movements to ensure that your body is moving and engaging with different muscles. It is suggested that adults should be physically active for at least two and a half hours per week. Recommended exercises include:
- Water Aerobics
- Light weight-lifting
Any and all exercise methods should be discussed with your doctor to determine what the best and most efficient approach suits your personal needs.
(This article, edited and approved the Purple Almond Wellness, was submitted by an guest author. )
Tamara’s Closing thoughts…
It’s important to go slow when making major changes to your lifestyle. Pick one thing to change, such as adding whole foods to your diet. Changing to a whole food diet, as indicated in this article, is probably the most important change you can make. As I said, go slow when making this change. Pick one meal a day to be made 100% whole foods. Do that for a week, then add a second 100% whole food meal and so on until your diet is 100% whole foods. Once that is accomplished, you can add something else. Set a S.M.A.R.T. GOAL and create steps to meet that goal. You’ve got this!