For those living with diabetes or some form of hyperglycaemia —high glucose levels—, controlling the amount of sugar present in their blood is essential. These levels are very sensitive to diet and lifestyle, so this are naturally two things many people try to adapt to their condition. It’s commonly known that sugary snacks and alcohol are to be avoided rf consumed in moderate amounts, but what other foods should you keep an eye on?
The following advice from DiabetesUK, the British Diabetic Association, will help you stay fit while keeping your glucose levels at bay. Along with physical exercise — 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity throughout the week—, it will help you embrace a healthy lifestyle that’s adequate for your condition. As always, make sure to check with your doctor or professional dietitian before making any major changes to your diet.
Some tips to manage your glucose levels, per Diabetes UK
Choose healthier carbohydrates
Although carbs are known to generally impact blood glucose levels, and it’s therefore important to be mindful of your daily intake, not all of them are equally bad. You should always look at the bigger picture and go for those carbs that are healthy for you, as well as control the amount of them you take.
For instance, whole grains (brown rice, buckwheat and whole oats) are better than refined pastas. It’s also advisable to go for fruit and vegetables, and great sources of plant protein like pulses (chickpeas, lentils or beans). For dairy, avoid those who are artificially sweetened.
Too much salt can be bad for your glucose levels, so try to limit it.
Limit your salt intake
If not consumed in moderation, salt can heighten your risk of suffering from high blood pressure. This can lead to heart diseases and stroke, and those who suffer from diabetes should be extra careful, since they are already more prone to develop these conditions.
Diabetes UK recommends limiting your salt intake to a maximum of 6g (or one teaspoon) of salt per day, but stress that many packaged foods are already salty, so you should always look at the nutrition labels and opting for those foods that have a limited amount of salt. As an alternative you can add flavour to your meals using spices or herbs, making them tastier.
Your minerals and nutrients should come from your diet
Many people turn to dietary supplements to get more vitamins or minerals hoping this will help them against diabetes. This lacks scientific evidence, according to Diabetes UK, so you should instead focus on having a balanced diet that allows you to naturally cover your nutritional needs, unless you’ve been prescribed to take some supplements, like pregnant women often do with folic acid.
Other than that, supplements are often unnecessary and can even interfere with your medications or worsen some complications from diabetes, like kidney disease.
Fruit and vegetables are your friends
Because of the sugar they contain, many people suffering from high glucose levels tend to avoid them for fear that they may negatively impact their health. However, eating fruit and veg daily is an essential part of every healthy diet, because provide vitamins, minerals and fibre your body needs.
As for the sugar part, rest assured that it differs greatly from the added sugars you can find in pastries, bakery and processed food. This added sugar is also present in fruit juices, so go for whole, natural pieces of fruit that are fresh, frozen, dried or tinned in natural juice, and eat them throughout the day instead of eating all of them in one sitting.
Be wary of so called “diabetic food”
As Diabetes UK explains, there’s nothing preventing suppliers from labelling food “diabetic”, but no evidence sustains that these foods are beneficial in any way over a healthy diet. In fact, they can contain just as much fat and calories as other standard products while still impacting your blood sugar levels, and act as laxatives.