For people who are diabetics, the most important aspect of managing this disease is to monitor blood sugar levels as much as possible, with adherence to diet, exercise and leading a healthy lifestyle. As such, controlling sugar levels in blood involves eating a variety of healthy foods; having a regular schedule of when to eat, practicing portion control and certainly participating in physical activities. When controlling blood glucose levels, the aim is to eat less processed foods, have more whole wheat and whole grain products, fresh fruits and vegetables and limiting one's intake of total carbohydrates. Dietary modifications are just one management strategy, along with exercise, weight loss, keeping a food journal and taking supplementation.
Keeping a journal
Keeping a daily journal is beneficial because it allows a person to see what and how much they are consuming. Besides caloric intake, one can also record body weight, blood glucose readings, plus note bodily changes one may be experiencing. General rule of thumb for diabetics is to have 10 percent in carbohydrate consumption from the day's total caloric intake. That means if a person's caloric intake is 2,000 calories, he/she should eat no more than 200 gm of carbs. If intake is 1,500 calories, then it should be 150 gm of carbs.
As such, a diabetic should watch for signs of either hyper- or hypoglycemia, as either state can be a good indicator of blood sugar levels in the body. When levels are high, hyperglycemia can result, with symptoms of increased thirst, frequent urination and sometimes a sugary smell in urine. As for hypoglycemia, when blood glucose levels are low, diabetics may be susceptible to hunger pangs, dizziness, headache, shakiness or mood swings. Therefore, the best way to keep sugar level in blood stabilized, one should eat frequently (every 3-4 hours), by having small meals. This way, it limits blood sugar levels from constantly fluctuating, spiking and dipping.
Obesity is a major factor in the development of Type II diabetes, so it would behoove a person to lose some weight in order to control blood sugar levels. Visceral fat which surrounds major organs impedes proper functioning. Measurement of waist size can become one indicator of potential problems regarding risk factors for diabetes. Formerly, it has been claimed men should not have a waistline over 40". Newest research suggests that to keep a healthy profile, male waistlines should stay around 37". As for women, they should keep their waist size under 35", with 32" being more prudent. Losing a bit of weight can substantially help control sugar level in blood.
Food sources and combinations
For a diabetic, it is very important to avoid processed and refined foods, as sugars from these sources reach the blood stream very quickly. A good adjustment to make is to replace white sugar/bread/pasta/rice/potato with whole wheat or whole grain versions, and substituting white potato with sweet potato. Furthermore, limiting one's intake of alcohol is beneficial as alcohol interferes with blood sugar stability by stimulating the release of insulin and hindering the body from metabolizing glucose.
To keep levels stabilized, eat high fiber foods as they slow down digestion and the absorption of carbohydrates. Foods with soluble fiber also help the pancreas from secreting too much insulin and improve the use of glucose by the liver. For foods high in fiber, aim to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes etc. Along the same line, avoid eating foods that have a high glycemic index, as these foods can quickly get into the bloodstream and cause a sugar spike.
Food combinations are also important when stabilizing blood sugar levels. When eating a meal high in carbs, it is always prudent to combine it with lean quality protein, usually about 3-4 oz. Protein is essential for major organs such as the pancreas, liver and adrenal glands to function properly, as well as preventing cravings for high-carb foods. Protein helps stabilize levels because it does not stimulate the pancreas to release insulin as does carbohydrates.
It might behoove diabetics to take a comprehensive multivitamin and mineral supplementation that contains at least 1,000 mg of vitamin C, and 50 mg of vitamin B complex. Latest research indicates that having a chromium deficiency may affect the body's ability to control sugar in blood. Chromium is a trace mineral that is essential for proper functioning of insulin. Chromium picolinate can be taken daily (200-600 mcg) by a diabetic. According to material on the Dr. Oz Show, chromium polynicotinate may be an even better form of chromium to help stabilize blood sugar levels.
Controlling one's sugar level in blood involves definitive lifestyle adjustments of diet, exercise and making informed choices regarding food sources. As such, by carefully monitoring what goes on each and every day by use of a journal can help give a diabetic a clearer picture of what is going on with their body.