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Nine wonder ways to keep blood sugar spikes in check

Nine wonder ways to keep blood sugar spikes in check

High blood sugar levels can be controlled by making diet and lifestyle changes
Photo by Anantha Subramanyam K

High blood sugar occurs when the body cannot convert sugar in the blood to energy for cells. This condition is commonly seen among people with diabetes or those at risk of the disease. If not managed properly, prolonged diabetes can result in multi-organ failure. Hence regular monitoring of sugar levels and timely intervention is important.

“Diabetes is a chronic condition where the body cannot produce the required insulin or use insulin in a proper way to manage blood sugar. Diet and lifestyle are crucial aspects of diabetes management,” says Dr Arun Shankar, medical director and chief diabetologist, Jothydev’s Diabetes and Research Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

Blood sugar or glucose is the main sugar that is found in our blood. “Most of the foods that we consume contain carbohydrates that are converted into sugars by the liver and released into the bloodstream,” says K Parkavi, nutritionist, Medall Blume, Chennai. “Pancreas produces insulin, a hormone which helps in glucose entering the cells for energy, thus regulating blood sugar levels. Excess sugar and carbohydrate intake spikes blood sugar levels and insulin. When cells can no longer absorb the glucose, the body gets into a condition called insulin resistance.”

Managing diabetes begins with the right food choices, which help in stabilising blood sugar levels to a certain extent, says Dr Shankar. “One approach is to limit carbohydrate intake through a customised diet plan,” he says. “Another approach is to opt for low- to medium-GI (glycaemic index) foods that can help in slow absorption and less spikes in blood sugar levels. High fibre in the diet would also help in controlling sugar levels, particularly soluble-fibre intake.”

Dr Shankar says spreading meals out throughout the day and careful control of portions can keep blood sugar levels under control. “Proper hydration is also important as drinking enough water prevents dehydration,” he says. “One should avoid alcohol, fruit juice, soda, sports drinks, highly sugared coffee and tea.”

Parkavi says persistent high blood sugar levels can lead to complications like diabetes, which further increases the risk of nerve damage, kidney problems, vision loss and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Regular blood-sugar monitoring is the cornerstone to achieving better glucose control along with timely pharmacological intervention, says Dr Shankar. “If target control [reaching normal blood sugar levels] is not achieved then treatment intensification should be considered,” he said.

How to reduce blood sugar level

High blood sugar levels can be controlled by making diet and lifestyle changes. Dr Shankar and Parkavi say the following ways to control blood sugar levels:

  1. Stress stimulates hormones that decrease insulin production and raise blood sugar levels. Thus, managing or avoiding stress can improve blood sugar levels. Adequate sleep at night is essential to control blood glucose. Lack of sleep can trigger insulin resistance leading to high sugar levels. Stress can be tackled through increased social interactions, taking proper medications, relaxation exercises, meditation, yoga, pranayama
  2. Exercise is an effective and simple approach to control sugar levels. At least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week is recommended. Both resistance training and aerobic exercise help to lower insulin resistance. Getting up once in 30 minutes while sitting for longer hours at work is suggested
  3. Losing weight through activities like stretching, yoga or taking a walk is helpful in blood sugar control. Insulin sensitivity improves during exercise, which helps in better glycaemic control and thereby weight reduction. Dropping just seven per cent of body weight can help to improve insulin sensitivity and promote healthy blood sugar levels
  4. Reduce carbohydrate and sugar intake since foods high in these tend to increase blood sugar levels. Refined, highly processed carbohydrate foods with added sugar — soft drinks, refined grains like bread, pasta, sugary cereals, pastries, etc — increase blood sugar levels. Complex carbohydrates take longer to break down and provide energy. Including complex carbohydrate sources like vegetables and whole grains in the diet lowers blood sugar levels
  5. Carbohydrateprotein combination: a healthy diet is a mix of carbohydrate and protein. Rather than grains, including a carbohydrate and protein combination in the diet is more beneficial. A fair amount of protein, preferably from animal sources such as paneer, eggs, fish and meat, served along with whole grains help in aiding satiety and lowering blood sugar levels
  6. Fats: eating the right fat plays an important role in maintaining blood sugar levels. Saturated fats like ghee and butter, which are considered to be good fat, do not contain any sugar or carbohydrate and work well in controlling blood sugars
  7. Fibre: slows the absorption of sugar and carbohydrates, prevents spikes in blood sugars and improves gut health. Including high-fibre foods like vegetables helps in maintaining the blood sugar levels within limit
  8. Gut composition: changes in gut microbiome lead to metabolic disorders such as obesity, diabetes and insulin resistance. These conditions are influenced by the inability to maintain proper sugar levels in the blood. Including prebiotic and probiotic foods like curd, kimchi and kombucha lowers blood sugar levels
  9. Intermittent fasting: is an eating pattern that involves a period of voluntary fasting. It is effective in decreasing blood sugar levels. People on medication should seek a doctor’s advice before following intermittent fasting.
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  1. It is the metabolic state of the body that matters. The body can be trained to stay in the fat burning mode by following Ketogenic diet, where 80% of the daily caloric intake is from fat. It eliminates not just diabetes but also many other diseases.

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