Easy tips and tricks to control your blood sugar By Danielle Larsson, Boundary Community Hospital
Diabetes touches many lives and is steadily on the rise. According to the CDC, one in 10 Americans have diabetes and one in three Americans have prediabetes; of those with prediabetes, more than 80 percent are unaware they have it. (1) Eleven percent of adults living in Boundary County have been diagnosed with diabetes compared to 9 percent of Idaho adults.(2) Unmanaged blood sugar affects every major organ in the body. It can lead to cardiovascular disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, blindness, poor circulation, loss of sensation in extremities, increased risk of infection, and in extreme cases, amputations due to loss of circulation and infections. Since a significant portion of those with prediabetes are unaware that they have it, screening is crucial if you have any associated risk factors; obesity, 45 years or older, a family history with type 2 diabetes, physically inactive, ever having gestational diabetes, or having polycystic ovary syndrome. However, Dr. Polonsky, a diabetes specialist, said, "Diabetes in good control is the leading cause of nothing."
These tips can be used by anyone to help encourage a healthy lifestyle and help prevent the development of diabetes or prediabetes in the future. Nourishing your body, managing stress and being active throughout your life has a lasting effect on your body's ability to fight off illness and disease. Mindful eating and increased physical activity can significantly improve your health by managing your blood sugar, reversing prediabetes or preventing it altogether:
• Eating a combination of fiber-rich carbohydrates, lean protein and heart-healthy fats can promote more stable glucose levels by slowing down the digestion of glucose and delays absorption into the bloodstream.
• The order in which you eat your food matters. Eat your protein, vegetables and heart-healthy fats before you eat your carbohydrates. They will naturally help stabilize your blood sugar. Study results showed that glucose levels were improved by as much as 37 percent using this method; insulin was also significantly lower. (3) It is important to note that saturated fats can worsen insulin resistance, while poly- and monounsaturated fats improve it. (4)
• Examples of healthy fats are olive oil, nuts, sardines, salmon, flax seeds and avocados.
• Examples of fats to limit are fast-food, processed foods and animal fats (meats, cheese, cream, butter, lard).
• Eating at regular intervals also helps the body maintain stable blood glucose.
• Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar, protects your heart, helps maintain digestive health, and keeps you feeling full longer.
• Increasing physical activity is especially beneficial after eating! Start exercising about 30 minutes after a meal. Using large muscle groups like your quads is most impactful (i.e., walking, using stairs, or squats). Be sure to check your blood sugar levels before exercising; if your blood sugar is above 300, postpone exercising until you can get it below 180. If you use insulin, check after to ensure your levels don't drop too low. Before starting or changing your exercise regimen, talk with your doctor to determine what is best for you.(5)
There’s no wrong time to embrace real food and optimize your health. Incrementally making small changes in your lifestyle leads to significant change overtime. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all of the information out there, but you don’t have to manage it alone. Boundary Community Hospital offers a Diabetes Support Group that meets the third Monday of each month at 1pm in the Fry Healthcare Education Building. For more information, call 208.267.3141.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Prediabetes – Your Change to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes. CdC.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.html#:~:text=Approximately%2096%20million%20American%20adults,%2C%20heart%20disease%2C%20and%20stroke.
2. Panhandle Health District; Community Health Assessment 2018; page 40.
3. Alpana P. Shukla, Radu G. Iliescu, Catherine E. Thomas, Louis J. Aronne; Food Order Has a Significant Impact on Postprandial Glucose and Insulin Levels. Diabetes Care 1 July 2015; 38 (7): e98-e99. DOI.org/10.2337/dc15-0429
4. Riccardi G, Giacco R, Rivellese AA. Dietary fat, insulin sensitivity and the metabolic syndrome. Clin Nutr. 2004 Aug;23(4):447-56. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2004.02.006. PMID: 15297079.
5. Cleveland Clinic; Glucose Control: Why Timing Your Exercise After Meals Matters. 8 August 2018; Health.ClevelandClinic.org/exercise-and-your-glucose-levels-does-timing-make-a-difference/