Superfood Series: Healthy Blood Sugar

Blood sugar (or blood glucose) levels are not only important to people with diabetes. Blood sugar levels fluctuate in everyone depending on the time of day, your diet and stress levels. Whether you have diabetes or not, it is important to maintain a healthy blood sugar so you can feel and perform your best. Throw these foods in your cart next time you visit the grocery store to help ensure healthy blood sugar levels.

Vegetables
Vegetables are packed with nutrients, are naturally low in calories, full of fiber and filling. Loading your plate with more vegetables will automatically mean you’re eating fewer simple carbohydrates (which raise blood sugar) and saturated fats (which increase insulin resistance).

Fruits
These have more natural sugar and calories than most vegetables. Fruit is low in fat high in fiber and for the most part, low in calories. Fruits are also full of antioxidants for an added benefit.

Beans
Beans are just about your best source of dietary fiber. Fiber slows digestion and keeps blood sugar from rising quickly after a meal.

Cereal
The right breakfast cereal is a great to pack more fiber into your day. Studies show that people who start the morning with a high-fiber cereal actually eat less later on. So don’t skip out on breakfast!

Fish
Fish is a good source of protein, and a great substitute for higher-fat meats. Fatty fish is also the best source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Chicken breast
Tons of recipes, lean and low in calories.  Unlike steaks and hamburgers, chicken is low in saturated fat, which raises bad cholesterol and may increase insulin resistance, making blood sugar control more difficult.

Nuts
Nuts are filled with good fats that fight heart disease. These fats can help reduce insulin resistance and make blood sugar easier to control. Nuts are also one of the best food sources of vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects cells and may help prevent nerve and eye damage. They are also rich in fiber and magnesium, both of which may benefit your blood sugar.

Olive oil
Olive oil is full of good fats that eliminate the risk of heart attack — and help keep blood sugar steady. These fats have even been shown to help reduce insulin resistance. When cooking, lose the butter and use olive oil instead.

Yogurt
Yogurt is protein rich and calcium for weight loss. Individuals who eat plenty of calcium-rich foods have an easier time losing weight — and are less likely to become insulin resistant.

Cinnamon
Just by sprinkling cinnamon on your foods, you could lower your blood sugar. Components in cinnamon help the body use insulin more efficiently, so more glucose can enter cells. Add cinnamon to whole-wheat toast, oatmeal, apples, or tea.

A Case for Exercise: Controlling Diabetes by Getting Active

This post courtesy of guest experts
Marie Stauder, RN and Shannel Jones, RD
DMH Wellness Center

Having difficulty controlling your blood sugar? Feeling stressed out? Energy low? Exercise can help improve all of these things and more!

  • Here are some tips for how to make exercising with diabetes more successful:
  • Check with your doctor to make sure you have no physical restrictions prior to exercising.
  • Check your blood sugar before, during, and after exercise to have an idea of how that exercise can affect your blood sugar.
  • You may need a carb- or protein-packed snack before you exercise, especially if you have skipped a meal or snack.
  • Avoid exercise when fasting blood sugar is above 250 mg/dl, or, below 70 mg/dl. For those with Type 1 Diabetes, check for ketones when blood sugar is over 250. If negative for ketones, exercise with caution. If ketones are present, notify Dr. immediately.
  • Wear diabetes identification, and inform someone about potential low and high blood sugar levels.
  • Carry a simple form of sugar in case of low blood sugars: Like 3-4 glucose tablets, a hard candy, 1/2 cup of juice
  • Keep hydrated, drink plenty non-caffeinated, sugar-free fluids.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and socks.
  • Warm up and stretch before exercise, and cool down when you’re finished exercising.
  • Know what your abilities, and start out slow. Any activity is better than none.
  • Choose an activity that you enjoy. Have fun!

How can Exercise help you to control your Diabetes?

  • Reduces stress
  • Increases energy
  • Increases strength
  • Improves blood fats
  • Improves mood
  • Improves blood sugar control
  • Improves blood pressure
  • Improves insulin sensitivity
  • Helps you lose weight
  • Lowers HgbA1c (three month blood sugar average) at least 1 % point

Get Started:

  • Start out small and increase length of time and difficulty gradually.
  • Be active for at least 30 minutes, at least 5 days a week.
  • People with Type 2 diabetes should add strength training to their activity plan 3 times a week. Talk with your Diabetes care team to find out what kind of strength training is best for you.
  • Have a Plan B to accommodate weather, illness, travels and other circumstances that life throws at you.

Ideas and Inspiration:

  • Grab a grocery cart and go up and down all of the aisles of large store centers rather than just the isles that you need something from.
  • Wear a pedometer.
    • Moderately active lifestyle: 5,000-7,500 steps/day.
    • Active lifestyle: 10,000-12,500 steps/day.
    • Walk your dog, or offer to walk your neighbor’s dog.
    • Park farther away in store parking lots.
    • At work: Walk to a restroom, water fountain, or copy machine on a different floor.
    • Explore DMH Cardiac Rehabilitation’s Phase 3 exercise program (if you have physical limitation and do not have or use an “exercise membership”), by calling 876-2496.

Sample Goals:

  • I will stay on my feet for the first 10 to 15 minutes after meals, around the house and at work, to improve my after-meal glucose levels.
  • On Tuesdays and Thursdays I will walk my dog to the park and back, approximately a 15 minute walk each way.
  • I will increase my exercise after I get my doctor’s approval. I should safely increase my exercise to a goal of 30 minutes most days of the week.
  • I will investigate fitness apps on my smart phone.
Diabetes 101

What is it?

Diabetes is a lifelong disease in which there are high levels of sugar in the blood.

Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), or simply, diabetes, is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin.

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin – a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy.

Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children with type 1 diabetes can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy, happy lives.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Millions of Americans have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and many more are unaware they are at high risk. Some groups have a higher risk for developing type 2 – including African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, and the elderly.

How do you detect it?

Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem so harmless. However, recent studies indicate that the early detection of diabetes symptoms and treatment can decrease the chance of developing the complications of diabetes, so it’s crucial to be informed.

Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms

  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue and Irritability

Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

  • Any of the type 1 symptoms
  • Frequent infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling/numbness in the hands/feet
  • Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections

If you have one or more of these diabetes symptoms, see your doctor right away.

Prevention

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Staying physically active
  • Managing blood pressure
  • Monitoring blood glucose levels with your doctor
  • Knowing your family history

Work with your doctor to be aware of your risks for diabetes and make a plan to lower it.