Type 2 diabetes is on the rise globally. It affects people of all ages, but what is more worrying is that it is particularly on the rise among young children. What is also worrying is that most people with pre-diabetes have not been diagnosed and are not aware of their high blood sugar levels.
In this article we will get to the basics of Type 2 diabetes, learn the parts of the body that can be affected by high blood sugar levels and give tips for improving blood glucose control and optimizing health and longevity.
Why should I care if my blood sugar is high?
Having high blood sugar levels puts the whole body at risk. Being pre-diabetic or having uncontrolled diabetes increases the risk for a number of serious health complications. High blood sugar damages both the small and large arteries of the body, damaging your vision, kidneys, and peripheral nerves. It also increases the risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke significantly.
10 + 1 Tips for improving blood glucose control:
1. Test your fasting blood sugar levels (morning) and ΗβΑ1c (long-term estimation of blood glucose levels) often. It is crucial to detect any metabolic abnormalities that lead to type 2 diabetes at their earliest stages.
2. If you are overweight, losing weight will help in achieving better blood sugar control.
3. Increase your activity levels. Go out for a walk more often, go swimming, join a dance class and generally aim for about 30 minutes of moderate to high intensity activity, 4 to 5 times per week.
4. Reduce the overall amount of carbohydrates in your diet.
5. Follow the healthy plate food model. To achieve this you need to be eating large amounts of vegetables with all meals. Half of your plate should be salad or vegetables at every meal and your carbohydrates at each meal should be restricted to ¼ of your plate.
Source: American Diabetes Association
6. Limit the amount of sugar in the diet. Avoid completely simple sugars such as sweetened drinks, sugar in desserts, honey, molasses, juices, and the like. Limit desserts to special occasions.
Source: American Institute for Cancer Research
7. Switch to a diet of whole, unprocessed foods. Eat most foods in their unprocessed state (i.e., eat dried beans that you‘ve cooked yourself rather than buying tinned baked beans and choose whole-grain breads, pasta, and wild rice).
8. Avoid processed foods with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup such as cookies, cakes, sodas, soft drinks, and other sweets.
9. Eat natural sugars such as honey, molasses, and maple syrup in very small amounts, as they, too, increase blood sugar levels significantly.
10. Specific supplements have been shown to improve blood glucose control. Consider supplementing with chromium (200 mcg/day), magnesium (300 mg/day) such as magnesium citrate or gluconate) and vitamin B-complex.
11. The friendly bacteria in your gut improve insulin resistance and lower blood glucose levels. Increase your intake of probiotic foods such as kefir, kombucha, sheep’s yogurt, sauerkraut, miso. You can also take a probiotic supplement to get better blood glucose control quicker.
Take Home Message
- Being prediabetic or having uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes leads to serious health consequences.
- You can significantly improve your health and longevity by improving your blood glucose levels.
- Testing your fasting blood glucose and HbA1c often is key to having good glucose control.
- Follow the tips of this article to improve your blood glucose levels.
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- Raidl, Martha, Kristina Spain, Mimi Hartman-Cunningham, Rhea Lanting, Marsha Lockard, Shelly Johnson, Marnie Spencer, Laura Sant, Julia Welch, and Audrey Liddil. "Peer Reviewed: The Healthy Diabetes Plate." Preventing chronic disease 4, no. 1 (2007).
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- Sun, Jing, and Nicholas J. Buys. "Glucose-and glycaemic factor-lowering effects of probiotics on diabetes: a meta-analysis of randomised placebo-controlled trials." British Journal of Nutrition 115, no. 7 (2016): 1167-1177.