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A 2011 study, published in the Lancet, estimates that 347 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes, a medical condition caused by raised blood sugar levels. The disease can have severe medical consequences such as heart diseases, kidney failure, nerve problems and in extreme cases, even blindness.
Keep Your Blood Sugar Levels Under Control!
As is evident from above, having high blood sugar levels is a cause for concern. It makes one vulnerable to various medical conditions which may, in some cases, prove lethal. If you are prone to high sugar levels you have may have been noticing:
- You are thirsty more often and/or urinate more.
- Your skin or mouth often feels dry.
- You’re suffering from blurred vision or unexplained weight loss.
- Sudden fatigue plagues you often.
- You’re catching infections frequently and cuts/sores heal slowly.
The above are all indications of raised sugar levels and possibly diabetes as well. Thus, do not take these symptoms lightly and consult a physician immediately.
Keep in mind however, that lifestyle modification can go a long way in maintaining sugar levels; it is highly recommended and better than taking medication anyway.
Here are some ways in which you can keep your blood sugar levels under control.
Watch What You Eat
Your diet and dietary habits play an important role in determining your blood sugar levels. In order to prevent the onset of high sugar levels, adopt the following measures, and you will notice a positive change in your health soon:
Space out your meals throughout the day. Eat at regular intervals and never skip meals. This will ensure that your glucose intake is balanced throughout the day and the blood sugar levels neither shoot up, nor drop low.
Modify your diet.
- Opt for the healthiest carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and legumes.
- Add fiber-rich foods to your diet since they help control blood sugar levels.
- Avoid saturated fats (high-fat dairy products and animal proteins) and consume ‘good’ fats instead (those founds in dry fruits and nuts).
- Stay away from trans fats (primarily found in processed snacks and baked goods) and cholesterol-rich food.
- Say no to simple sugars (table sugar, sweet drinks, etc) as far as possible.
Certain foods are known to decrease blood sugar levels and prevent type 2 diabetes.
- A 2011 study by Soochow University, Suzhou, China shows that “magnesium intake is significantly inversely associated with risk of type 2 diabetes”. So, it’s a good idea to increase intake of magnesium rich foods.
- Another study by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) found an antioxidant found in grapefruit which can be highly effective in treating diabetes.
If you have high sugar levels or fear having so, a grapefruit a day may be the way to go!
Work (It) Out!
In order to keep blood sugar levels in check, you would do good to sweat the sugar out of your body. Our muscles use glucose to obtain energy when we exercise. Thus, exercising regularly can have a positive effect on your blood sugar levels.
Keep the following facts in mind:
- The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes should aim for 150 minutes worth of moderate to vigorous exercise a week. Taking your cue from that, you could exercise for about 20 minutes every day to keep you blood sugar in check.
- Blood sugar levels are high immediately after a meal since your body has just taken in glucose. A 2103 study published in the journal Diabetes Care suggested that a moderate-speed, 15-minute walk about 30 minutes after eating has a significant effect on high blood sugar levels, especially in older people. Thus, if possible, your daily exercise could be post-meal walks.
Quit Bad Habits
We all are guilty of some bad habits though smokers perhaps take the prize here. Apart from having other dire effects, a recent study by professor Xiao-Chuan Liu from the California State Polytechnic chemistry, has found that nicotine raises blood sugar levels significantly.
What this effectively reinforces is that for those worried about their blood sugar levels, quitting smoking would be a smart move. The problem here is that quitting smoking is hardly very easy. So how does one do it?
Giving up smoking will require you to cultivate a strong resolve to abstain, support from family and friends, and some nature of external influence to compliment your efforts. In terms of the latter, you can go in for:
- Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT): This uses alternate nicotine substances other than tobacco, to wean one off the habit of smoking. Ultimately, as one stops smoking, they can slowly even give up the nicotine substitutes. Eventually, this way, you’ll be leading a nicotine-free life and thus have better sugar levels.
- E-cigarettes: These are electronic devises that emit nicotine or non-nicotine based vapors that are to be inhaled. This supposedly re-creates the experience of smoking and thus helps you quit. E-cigs are a good option for those trying to control blood sugar since they come in non-nicotine varieties as well, unlike as with NRT. Interestingly, even as the health appropriateness of E-cigs is questioned, a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that 30% of E-cigarette users quit smoking entirely after making the switch.
- Professional Counseling/Medication: This is a traditional smoking cessation option though you will have to consult certified professionals for this.
Keep Calm and Enjoy Life
We all know that stress has various health implications – raised blood sugar levels, is one of them. Unfortunately, in our daily life, we are faced by several situations that cause short-term stress and thus a spike in our blood sugar levels.
Thus, a good idea would be to try to use soothing techniques such as deep breathing, positive mental imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation whenever stressed.
A study conducted by Duke University has found these and other relaxation exercises to be very effective in controlling blood sugar levels in stressful times.
So stay calm, relax when stressed and be the master of your own blood sugar!