Understanding & Managing Type 2 Diabetes: Insights & Tips
I was on a zoom this morning with diabetes UK. Good people doing good work, but the problem is enormous. This is what I found out: Yes there is type one and type two. Type two is linked with obesity and therefore linked to diet and lifestyle. Type two diabetes is 90% of all diabetes cases in the UK. The UK has more discounted unhealthy food than any other country in Europe. The obesity issue in the UK is getting bigger. The nation as a whole is continuing to put on weight and the problem is getting worse. Some groups are more predestined to store fat than others but everybody that puts on weight can be helped with a better diet. As I speak the NHS spends 10% of it whole budget treating diabetes. These aren’t my thoughts, this is what I was told this morning: I told them what I discovered helping people on GreggWallace.Health for three years. That the biggest problems are a lack of basic cookery school and a tendency towards snacks and takeaways. It was a great conversation, let’s see what happens next I will of course keep you informed. Anyone who has been part of GreggWallace.Health for a while understands how we work and has a pretty good idea of the great work we’ve done. I believe we can make the nation healthier. Thanks for joining us on our mission.
I thought this blog post would be useful for those who have been recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes and are looking for a little additional support. Please note that this doesn’t contain medical advice and you should always consult with your GP or health care provider if you are worried about your blood sugar levels.
What is type 2 diabetes?
Diabetes is a huge global health problem and is unfortunately on the rise. Type 2 diabetes is a condition where too much sugar is found in your blood stream. This can cause excessive thirst, weight gain, tiredness, and the need to pee a lot. Whilst medication is used – it’s advised to focus on diet and lifestyle strategies to manage the condition long-term. Focusing on a nutrient dense diet that looks at your blood sugar levels is very important. The diet at GreggWallace.Health is broadly a blood sugar balancing plan – however there are certain things that you can do in addition and look out for that might help you.
A low carbohydrate diet is considered to be the most effective means of lowering blood sugar levels. However, this doesn’t mean that you mustn’t ever eat carbohydrates again. You can include carbohydrates in your diet – but you must be mindful of the amount and type of carbohydrates. Limit the carbohydrates that have high glycaemic response Foods that have a high-glycaemic response are the fast-releasing carbohydrates such as bread and crumpets, sugary cereal, white rice, white pasta, cakes, muffins, sweets, sugary drinks, chocolate, and some fruits such as grapes and dates. If you use a blood glucose monitor, you will notice that if you consume these carbohydrates on their own then your blood sugar will rise. By opting for slow-release carbohydrates or low-glycaemic carbohydrates this will help to lessen the blood sugar response. Choose brown bread, brown rice, brown pasta over the white equivalent. Having these slow-release carbohydrates at lunchtime rather than with the evening meal will also help as our body is better able to utilise them at this time of day.
Make sure you eat fibre: Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that is neither slow – nor fast-releasing. When you eat a food high in fibre it tends to slow down the release of sugars in the food. This is one of the reasons that following a high fibre diet is so good for you. People that eat high fibre don’t usually suffer from constipation and have a lower risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Fibre can be found in vegetables, fruit, lentils, beans and wholegrains. When people think of fibre they tend to think of wheat bran, but it’s actually not as beneficial as the fibre found in vegetables. The soluble fibre found in beans, lentils and oats is very effective at slowing down digestion and the blood sugar response. The fibre found in these foods also help to keep you fuller for longer. We have lots of bean and lentil dishes in the GreggWallace.Health plan for this very reason.
The power of protein: When you combine protein-rich foods with slow-release carbohydrates you get a small and equal insulin and glucagon response which is ideal for balancing your blood sugars. When consuming carbohydrates, you must always ensure that you eat with some protein. For instance, if you like an apple then eating with some almond nut butter which contains protein and fat will lessen the blood sugar spike that apple on its own would cause.
Start your day with a savoury breakfast: Blood sugars are usually elevated at the start of the day. The last thing you want to do is elevate them even more. Starting your day with a savoury breakfast with a good source of protein such as eggs and ensuring you have some fibre (vegetables) and some healthy fat maybe some avocado or smoked salmon would be a fantastic way to keep those blood sugars level.
Be aware of coffee and caffeine products: The more caffeine you consume the more your body and brain become insensitive to their own natural stimulants such as dopamine and adrenalin as well as insulin. A cup of coffee first thing in the morning before breakfast can massively elevate your blood sugars when they are already likely to be elevated naturally. Combining a coffee or tea with a carbohydrate only food has been found to elevate your blood sugars.
Say no to diet drinks I see many people on a diet reach for the zero sugar/no calorie diet drinks to help them lose weight. Regular readers of my articles and Facebook page will already know how I feel about artificial sweeteners. These diet drinks are highly addictive – and even worse if your blood sugars are already elevated. If you do consume these drinks, then reduce gradually. After 2 weeks you should start feeling much better and will notice more energy.
Alcohol: Alcohol is one of the most rapidly absorbed sugars. It takes almost 2 hours to use up the sugar in ½ pint of beer. This can then rapidly be turned to fat by the action of insulin. Habitual drinking can damage your liver and lead to a further inability to control blood sugar levels and weight. It will help you with your blood sugars if you can limit alcohol to no more than 3 small drinks a week and drink them with a meal rather than on their own.
Stress: Stress has a very similar blood sugar spike effect that sugar has. Stress can trigger the release of adrenalin and cortisol which prepare the body for action, this stimulates the release of glucose and then more hormones are released to take the glucose out of action. Long-term or chronic stress blocks the release of insulin, which means that your body starts to produce more and more in response. The more insulin that is release the more insulin- resistant you become, which is not good news. Slowing down and taking steps to manage your stress is an important part of managing your type 2 diabetes.
Move straight after a meal: Using your muscles straight after a meal can help to lower the blood sugar response. This could be a 15-minute walk, going up and down some stairs or some resistance training. If you tend to feel sleepy after a meal, then a walk can be particularly beneficial. Not being active can interfere with the body’s ability to keep blood glucose stable and so exercise or moving more can be very helpful in the management of type 2 diabetes.
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