10th June: Diabetes Awareness Week
Dr. Sarah Brewer, working in association with the Type 2 Diabetes supplement CuraLin (www.curalife.co) shares her top tips to support a diabetic diet and lifestyle.
1. Participate in your local park run
“Your doctor should be willing to support you in losing weight, often with a referral to a dietician, and there are moves for GPs to also ‘prescribe’ exercise such as those offered by local Park Run schemes. NICE guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity per week, such as brisk walking or cycling (in bouts of 10 minutes or more); or, 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity (such as running or playing football) spread over the week.”
2. Try a herbal supplement
“Some GPs may also be willing to support you taking herbal medicines that can improve glucose levels, such as CuraLin (£59, www.curalife.co) – a blend of 10 traditional Ayurvedic medicinal herbs, including Bitter Melon, Fenugreek, Amla fruit and Turmeric. These herbs are prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors to help support glucose balancing. By combining different herbs, which work in different ways, glucose tolerance can improve through different mechanisms. This combination approach can produce a synergistic effect while using lower doses”.
3. Go alcohol free
”Ensure that your alcohol intake is within healthy limits or, if you can, give up alcohol altogether for a while and measure the difference in your mood, blood sugars and weight. Alcohol is high in calories and carbs and also reduces your willpower to resist unhealthy foods!” If this is too much of a struggle, try making healthier changes – “when drinking spirits always add a low calorie, or diet, mixer rather than one containing sugar and remember that fruit juice can be high in sugar too.”
4. Consider a vegan diet
“Weight gain around the abdomen is an indication that your blood sugar levels could be high. Diet and exercise which target these areas are good to check out first.” Dr. Sarah Brewer supports the idea that following a, “healthy more plant-based diet (low fibre, low-glycaemic index with only healthy carbs such as wholegrains, pulses, fruit and vegetables),” could help with managing the condition.
5. Avoid excess stress when possible
“When you feel emotionally stressed, your body goes into Fight or Flight mode, which is driven by the adrenal hormones: adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. As well as making your heart pump faster and your pulse race, these hormones increase your blood pressure, make your breath more rapidly, tense your muscles and cause blood glucose levels to rise to provide instant energy. These effects prime you to fight or flee and when this expected physical activity does not occur, the effects are prolonged, including the raised glucose level.”
“Whether or not stress can cause type 2 diabetes remains controversial, but if you already have type 2 diabetes, you are likely to notice that both emotional stress and physical stress (e.g. due to an infection such as the common cold) can worsen your glucose control. The Fight or Flight response primes your body for exercise, and one of the best ways to help reset back to the Rest and Digest mode is through physical activity. Exercise such as a brisk walk helps to burn glucose and triglycerides as fuel, and improves insulin resistance.”
6. Swap milk for dark chocolate
“Forget milk or white chocolate goodies – opt for dark chocolate instead – the higher the cocoa solid content, the better. Dark chocolate has a lower sugar content and more antioxidant polyphenols, which have protective effects on circulation,” recommends Dr. Sarah Brewer.
7. Support your partner
“When you settle down with a partner, you tend to adopt some of their habits too. According to psychologists from the University of North Carolina, once a couple start living together, they’re three times more likely to become obese than those who live separately. This is probably down to sharing behaviours, such as choosing unhealthy snacks and watching TV, or playing computer games, instead of exercising. Rather than encouraging each other to follow a healthy diet and lifestyle, they are more likely to encourage negative behaviours so they won’t feel so bad about over-indulging alone. Apparently this tendency is strongest once a couple has lived together for at least two years” explains Dr. Sarah Brewer. Instead of watching your favourite Netflix series, whilst snacking, encourage your partner to go for a brisk walk with you.
8. Don't ignore smelly breath
“Regular dental check-ups are important when you have diabetes. Having undiagnosed diabetes can cause a serious complication known as ketoacidosis in which you would have an acetone like smell on the breath – if you detect this seek urgent medical advice, as your glucose levels may be dangerously high. More commonly, however, raised blood sugar levels promote the growth of bacteria in the mouth, which can lead to gingivitis (inflamed, infected gums), which, if not addressed, can spread to cause periodontitis with infection of deeper structures. This causes an unpleasant odour and can erode away bone and even cause your teeth to fall out. Your dentist can advise on which toothpaste is likely to suit you best, and arrange for a dental hygienist to clean the pockets between your teeth and gums to reduce the build-up of plaque associated with inflammation and tooth loss”.