Diabetes is a chronic disorder in which the body’s ability to produce and utilize insulin properly fails. Eating nutritious meals and leading an active lifestyle can help manage this condition and minimize its potential complications.
Diabetes Singapore encourages those living with diabetes to maintain a nutritious diet and engage in regular physical activity. Doing so can help alleviate some of the difficulties caused by diabetes, while improving one’s quality of life.
1. Eat a Well-balanced Diet
Eating a balanced diet is essential for those living with diabetes. Not only does it help keep blood sugar levels under control, but it can also protect nerves, kidneys and the heart from any potential damage.
Start by avoiding foods that contain refined carbohydrates, like white rice and bread. These items tend to be high in calories, fat, and sugar.
Instead, opt for foods with a low glycemic index (GI). Examples include whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Fish is an excellent addition to your diet, but it should be avoided fried as this could result in an abrupt spike in your blood sugar levels.
Fruit is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fibre; however it should be noted that it may have been processed or altered in various ways. Therefore, reading food labels carefully is key for getting the most nutritional value from fruit.
2. Exercise Regularly
Exercising regularly not only increases your body’s sensitivity to insulin, it also helps lower blood glucose levels. Furthermore, it may lower the risk of complications like heart disease, eye problems and nerve or kidney damage.
Exercise can continue to lower blood glucose for days after your workout, by making the body cells more sensitive to insulin. Depending on your condition and pre-exercise blood glucose levels, you may require less insulin or eat more carbohydrates following your workout.
Before beginning any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or diabetes care therapist about any necessary dietary modifications. It may also be best to start slowly and gradually increase your activity level with small, achievable goals.
3. Avoid Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
Studies are increasingly suggesting that regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), such as soft drinks, fruit drinks and energy/vitamin water drinks, increases the risk for overweight, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, SSBs may have an association with cardiometabolic disease and certain cancers.
Women who consumed at least 2 servings of sugar-sweetened beverages daily during adulthood had an increased risk for colon cancer before age 50, with this risk doubled for those who drank more than 2 SSBs daily during their teenage years.
Many people overlook the potential health hazards associated with sugary soft drinks (SSBs). To counteract these detrimental effects, opt for healthier alternatives like plain water and green tea instead.
4. Get Enough Sleep
Diabetics must ensure they get enough sleep each night in order to maintain their health and prevent potential complications. Studies have demonstrated that lack of shut-eye can negatively impact glucose metabolism.
To ensure you get enough rest each night, try setting an alarm for bed and wakeup at the same time each day. This will create a consistent schedule so you feel rested upon awakening as well as energetic throughout the day.
A study published in SLEEP found that short sleep duration was linked with an increased risk of gestational diabetes. The research involved 686 women who completed a sleep questionnaire and had their glucose levels measured through an oral glucose tolerance test between 26 to 28 weeks’ gestation.
5. Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol has an adverse effect on blood sugar, so if you have diabetes it’s best to limit drinking to occasional occasions. Furthermore, excessive drinking may increase blood pressure, dehydrate you and make sleeping difficult.
According to the Department of Dietetics at Singapore General Hospital, a member of SingHealth group, those who do drink should limit it to one or two standard drinks daily.
It’s wise to have your drink with some food, so that it won’t add up to too many calories. Additionally, opt for drinks low in carbs such as dry wine and spirits that contain less sugar.
Alcohol can lead to hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar, which may last up to 24 hours. This is especially dangerous for people with diabetes who take insulin or medications that stimulate insulin production, such as beta-blockers.