When you have diabetes, staying on top of your health is the best way to avoid serious problems in the future. You check your blood sugar, exercise, get your steps in, and avoid certain foods. But what if we told you there are tons of delicious foods you can enjoy that also help promote healthy living? It's a win-win!
To help regulate your blood sugar, health professionals recommend balancing your macro-nutrients, eating a variety of whole foods, exercising regularly, and get a proper amount of sleep every night.
The rest of today's article will teach you more about these simple tips and give you examples so you can turn these tips into real action as you work to regulate your blood sugar and promote a healthy life!
1. Balancing Macronutrients
You may have heard the term macronutrients, or 'macros,' before, but what are they? Simply put, macros include the three nutrients you consume the most: protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
If you think that only bodybuilders have to worry about macros, think again! Ensuring these three nutrients are adequately balanced is a vital task for everyone, even more so for people with diabetes.
In general, experts recommend people with diabetes or prediabetes focus on limiting their carbohydrate intake. Try to focus on complex carbs like sweet potatoes and fibrous vegetables and limit simple carbs such as white bread, pasta, or rice. Fiber slows the release of sugar into the blood, so eating a fiber-rich diet can help you control your blood sugar! It's also a good idea to pair your carbs with a good source of protein and fat, which can help you avoid a blood sugar spike.
Learn More: Diabetic Foot Care
2. Eat a Variety of Whole Foods
While balancing your macro-nutrients is a start, implementing a healthy meal plan is another great step in regulating your blood sugar. Keeping healthy, clean, whole foods on-hand will encourage you to enjoy these foods regularly and make meal-prepping easy. Managing your carbs can help prevent sugar spikes. Fiber is also an important factor in any diabetic's diet. Because fiber slows the digestion of carbs, gradual increases in blood sugar are encouraged as opposed to drastic spikes. You'll find a variety of high-fiber foods below. Here's a list of 10 foods for people with diabetes:
Top Ten Foods for People with Diabetes
- Seafood is an excellent source of protein and healthy fats. Do you feel like you're stuck eating chicken and broccoli every night? Seafood is a great way to change up your meals with the many different types available, from salmon to shrimp and everything in between.
- Nuts and Nut Butters also help to regulate blood sugar. They are a great way to introduce some healthy fats into your daily snacks. Nut butter is excellent when paired with carrots or apples. Just make sure to check the ingredients for added sugar.
- Beans and Lentils are rich in nutrients like magnesium, fiber, and protein. Lentils can be used as a meat substitute in plant-based cooking and have a mild flavor, perfect for adding some substance to rice dishes or vegetable soups.
- Fermented Foods have become very trendy in the last few years, and for a good reason! While research on the effects of fermented foods on diabetes is sparse, we wanted to include it because these foods are a great source of probiotics, which promote a healthy gut! Examples of fermented foods include kefir, low-sugar kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, vinegar, kimchi, and more!
- Kale. Speaking of trendy foods, kale has become a phenomenon in the last few years. Almost every restaurant serves a kale salad, and people even put it in their smoothies! Adding this fiber-rich leafy green to a high-carb meal has been proven to decrease post-meal blood sugar levels.
- Berries are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Check out your local farmers market for fresh berries when they are in season, or opt for frozen in the off-season. Enjoy a handful of blueberries as a snack. Throw your frozen strawberries in the blender with some milk for a delicious and nutritious smoothie.
- Avocados provide significant benefits for blood sugar regulation. They are rich in healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. We love to top our salads with avocado or use it to add creaminess to a bowl of zucchini noodles.
- Citrus Fruits. Don't let their sweetness fool you. Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and other delicious citrus fruits are low glycemic foods, and they have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity. Enjoy them as a snack or cut into segments and tossed with fresh basil for a refreshing summer salad. Be careful eating grapefruit if you are on blood pressure medication.
- Eggs may be the most highly debated item on this list. In general, experts agree that eggs are nutrient-rich and a great source of protein and fat. We like to scramble egg whites for a high-protein breakfast. While the yolks are high in cholesterol, maintaining a good balance of protein and complex carbs throughout the meal can help keep you... well, balanced!
- Okra may seem like an off-the-wall food that not many know what to do with, but we couldn't finish this list without telling you about the health benefits of this... vegetable? You'll be surprised to learn that okra is actually a cousin of the hibiscus flower! Studies have shown that some of the compounds found in this food inhibit certain enzymes in the body and reduce your blood sugar.
3. Exercising Regularly
Getting 10,000 steps a day, going to the gym at the crack of dawn, and running marathons... luckily, none of this is required to help you regulate your blood sugar. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, bumping up your daily steps by getting an additional 2000 steps a day is a great place to start. Additionally, going for a walk, even a short, 15-minute walk, has been proven to have benefits that reach even further than just regulating your blood sugar.
Additionally, regular exercise can improve insulin sensitivity. Forms of exercise can range from a simple walk to weightlifting, dancing, hiking, and swimming.
4. Get a Proper Amount of Sleep
A proper amount of sleep is crucial for every one, not just those with diabetics. That said, those with diabetes may find negative benefits from a lack of sleep, including increased appetite, weight gain, and increased cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone produced by your adrenal glands which suppresses inflammation and control metabolism in your muscles, fat, liver, and bones. Sleeping 7-8 hours per night has more benefits than could possible be listed here, but just know that a lack of sleep could be one factor to your unsteady blood-sugar levels.
The Bottom Line
As foot and ankle specialists, we see the complications that can arise from unregulated diabetes. Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, reducing blood sugar spikes, and keeping your weight under control can all be achieved. The foods you enjoy can help you get there! We encourage you to explore healthy foods and try new things.
You owe it to yourself to work towards a healthy life. It starts with having the support you need; a team of knowledgeable and supportive health care professionals can make all the difference. We are here for all your diabetic foot care needs. Give us a call today at 989-695-6788, or fill out our handy online contact form to set up an appointment today!