As consumables nowadays are packed with refined sugar and empty calories, paired with the sedentary, typical urban lifestyle may lead to diabetes. How then can you manage your caloric intake while taking charge of your blood sugar levels? We have listed 7 habits that you can implement effectively in your daily life, while not making a drastic lifestyle change.
1. Increase your fiber intake
Fiber slows carb digestion and sugar absorption, therefore promotes a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels. Bear in mind that the type of fiber you eat may play a role. While both insoluble and soluble fiber are important, the latter specifically has been shown to lower blood sugar levels. Additionally, a high-fiber diet can help manage diabetes by improving blood sugar control and reducing blood sugar lows. Foods that are high in fiber include vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains.
2. Watch how much you eat
Portion control helps regulate calorie intake and can lead to weight loss. Besides, controlling your weight promotes healthy blood sugar levels and has been shown to reduce subsequent blood sugar spikes and the risk of developing diabetes.
You can control your eating portions by simply switching your plates into a smaller one, measuring and weighing serving sizes, avoiding buffet/all you can eat restaurants, as well as eating at a moderate pace.
3. Choose foods with a low glycemic index
The glycemic index was developed to assess the body’s blood sugar response to foods that contain carbs. Both the amount and type of carbs determine how a food affects blood sugar levels. Eating low-glycemic-index foods has been shown to reduce long-term blood sugar levels in type 1 and type 2 diabetics. Although the glycemic index of foods is important, the amount of carbs consumed also matters.
Foods with a low glycemic index include seafood, meat, eggs, oats, barley, beans, lentils, legumes, sweet potatoes, corn, yams, most fruits and non-starchy vegetables.
4. Control stress levels
Stress can affect your blood sugar levels since hormones such as glucagon and cortisol are secreted while you are feeling pressured. These hormones cause blood sugar levels to go up. Therefore, it is important to implement exercise in your daily life as it significantly reduces stress and lowers blood sugar levels.
5. Monitor your blood sugar levels
Measuring and monitoring blood glucose levels can help you determine whether you need to make adjustments in meals or medications. It will also help you find out how your body reacts to certain foods. Try measuring your levels every day, and keeping track of the numbers in a log.
6. Eat foods rich in chromium and magnesium
High blood sugar levels and diabetes have also been linked to micronutrient deficiencies, for example in chromium and magnesium.
Chromium is involved in carb and fat metabolism, as well as helps controlling blood sugar levels. A lack of chromium may cause carb intolerance. Chromium-rich foods include egg yolks, whole-grain products, high-bran cereals, coffee, nuts, green beans, broccoli and meat.
Magnesium has also been shown to benefit blood sugar levels, and magnesium deficiency has been linked to a higher risk of developing diabetes. However, if you already eat plenty of magnesium-rich foods, then you probably will not benefit from supplements. Magnesium-rich foods include dark leafy greens, whole grains, fish, dark chocolate, bananas, avocados and beans.
7. Consume cinnamon
Cinnamon is known to have many health benefits. For one, it has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity by decreasing insulin resistance. It can also lower blood sugar levels by slowing the breakdown of carbs in the digestive tract, which moderates the rise in blood sugar after a meal. Cinnamon also acts in a similar way as insulin, although at a much slower rate. Effective dose is 1–6 grams of cinnamon per day, or about 0.5–2 teaspoons. However, don’t take more than that since too much cinnamon can be harmful.