If you have diabetes, you likely already know that this disease is caused by having too much sugar in your blood, called blood glucose. Naturally, one of the things you need to do with this disease is balance out the blood sugar.
There are many ways you can do this, including the following.
Eat a Healthy Diet
The diabetes diet is a healthier diet where you are reducing your sugar and carbs, reducing inflammation with the foods you eat, and trying to eat as whole and fresh as possible. You don’t need to stick to a clean diet or go on something extreme like keto, but you should definitely be mindful of what you eat and how much sugar you are putting into your diet. The healthy diet typically consists of fruits and veggies, whole grains, poultry and fish, healthy fats, and protein sources like eggs and raw dairy products. Ensure you are getting enough protein, fiber, and no added sugars in your diet.
Get More Exercise
When you are diagnosed with diabetes, you will also be asked to get more exercise. This is important for general health, managing your side effects like nerve damage and insulin resistance, and help you to lose weight if your diabetes was caused by obesity or conditions like PCOS. You really want to focus on balanced exercise with plenty of cardiovascular and weight training mixed in. Try to aim for 3-5 days of exercise, at least 30 minutes a day. If you are going from a sedentary lifestyle, don’t be afraid to start slow, then gradually increase the frequency of your workouts and eventually the intensity.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
Balancing blood sugar isn’t just about your diet, you also need to reduce your stress as much as possible. Having a lot of stress in your life can actually have a negative impact on your blood sugar, causing your blood glucose levels to spike. This is due to an increase in cortisol, which is a stress hormone. If you want to manage your blood sugar, keep your stress as low as you can.
Get Better Sleep
Finally, make sure you are getting plenty of sleep. Diabetes can cause fatigue, but it can be reduced if you are getting enough sleep at night and rest during the day. Sleeping more will also help to reduce your stress, which is going to help balance out your blood sugar levels.
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I wanted to talk about this topic because it is absolutely possible to prevent and even reverse Type 2 Diabetes (but you cannot reverse Type 1). Yes, it’s possible! and emerging studies looking at lifestyle medicine and prevention support this! But I always tell my patients that you must be dedicated and diligent in adopting a healthy lifestyle to get the best results. You can create certain behaviors and practices that will not only enrich your life, but that you can pass on to your family, friends, and community, to help break the cycle of this chronic disease so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve your blood sugar levels, maybe reverse type 2 diabetes. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Tools For Diabetes Prevention and Monitoring
Blood Sugar Monitoring
As you know, I always stress the importance of taking control of your health. Monitoring your blood sugar levels is one of the best ways to do this. To do this, a single drop of blood is collected with disposable lancets and placed on a disposable test strip, which you insert into a home blood-sugar monitoring device, called a glucometer.
The common times for checking your blood sugar are when you first wake up (fasting), before a meal, 2 hours after a meal, and at bedtime; however, you should check your blood sugar as many times a day as your health care team suggests.
Monitoring your blood sugar level provides you and your doctors with important knowledge about how food, activity, medication, stress, and other elements might affect your blood sugar levels. This data will assist you and your doctor in developing a therapy plan that is suited to your demands.
Since weight management is very important in combatting chronic diseases such as diabetes, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor (*this scale cannot be used with a pacemaker or other implanted devices).
Physical activity (or exercise) can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several chronic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few. Physical activity actually improves insulin sensitivity. Physical activity can improve your mood, boost your immune system, and even help you maintain a healthy weight.
I often recommend yoga and resistance training for physical activity, but as you are aware, there are plenty of forms of “movement” that you can do! But for the basics, especially if you’re just getting started, yoga and resistance training are where I would start.
Yoga can be a great way to improve your strength and flexibility, manage your stress, improve your heart health, and lose weight! I recommend using a grounded yoga mat to connect yourself with the earth and reduce inflammation.
Resistance training is the mainstay for overall health. It not only has beneficial effects on reducing body fat, it also increases muscle size and strength. Here are some basic dumbbells/free weights that I recommend to everyone.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet and regular physical activity are the best ways to prevent diabetes. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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