Why you need to skip the soda and switch to high-fibre veggie smoothies instead
Last week, we looked at diabetes in detail, and this week, we shall emphasise on a few food options and lifestyle changes that you can make to improve your sugar levels. Many people come to me with their high levels of blood sugar, and on assessing them, I come to know that most of their food habits are almost okay, but they all have to keep up with their lifestyle (basically, a sedentary lifestyle) and for that, they end up gulping soda/aerated drinks/packaged juices at parties or other gatherings.
Diet Coke/sodas/aerated drinks are not the best drinks in the world, especially if you’re a diabetic. These contain artificial sweeteners that many times can actually force you to crave more of it. As a result, you take in more empty calories than you really should.
You might gain weight and this also tends to increase your glucose levels drastically. The same goes for packaged juices, as they also contain artificial sweeteners, and lots of preservatives. You could have canned juice once in a while but, it’s not good if you take it on a daily basis.
All about fibre
Always drink natural homemade smoothies, particularly those made with veggies, because the fibre from veggies helps control the sugar spike, plus it keeps your gut health in check, as these are also food for your probiotics. You can have soups too (like carrot, palak, corn, tomatoes, mixed veggies, mushroom, chicken with veggies, etc) but again with fibre, that is, without straining, and not the clear broths. Even though fibre is considered a carbohydrate, it is an important part of eating for diabetics, as it doesn’t raise blood glucose levels. An increased fibre intake has been shown to actually decrease glucose levels in people with diabetes. You can also have fibre-rich food like whole grains, cereal, gluten-free oats and other whole grain products, unpolished rice, lentils and beans, fruits, vegetables and nuts. If you’re increasing your fibre intake, then remember to drink at least eight to 10 glasses of water through the day, to help keep things moving and improve your digestion.
Also, include a balanced amount of protein, and very appropriate amounts of fat in your diet, to maintain good health. Less emphasis on fatty animal protein and more on lean types of protein such as organic free-range eggs amd organic lean chicken. Other sources of proteins are organic A2 milk and milk products (avoid if you are lactose intolerant too), pulses, nuts, seeds and NON-GMO soy products, which will also help keep your protein intake up, and sugar levels down, as protein helps in slow release of glucose in body. Having said that, moderation should be followed, as high intake of protein too affects the sugar levels, as your body can only manage certain amounts of protein intake per meal. If we overdo that, then protein too can cause spikes in your sugar levels and affect the kidneys.
What to avoid
It’s better to stop eating outside food, especially fried items, as you don’t have control over the oil used for frying. Don’t have refined products like maida or maida products (pizza, pasta, samosas, etc). Avoid too much sugar, glucose, soft drinks, confectionery, sweets and desserts for a few days. Diabetics are often associated with high blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease and obesity. So, it is important to look out for your salt consumption also. Avoid having papad, pickles, cheese, waffers, shellfish like prawns, shrimps and oysters. Incorporate foods like methi powder, jamun vinegar and Apple Cider vinegar, which will help your body control its sugar levels naturally.
Over and above all this, we need to stay active, as a sedentary lifestyle puts us more in danger. Sitting is the new smoking. So try and be sure to get up every hour and do light stretches, to improve blood circulation, because just like insulin, even exercise helps the body to uptake more sugar from blood into the muscles. This results in the dropping of blood sugar levels. So you know that exercise or just walking will be more convenient than popping pills to control your sugar levels. I hope these few tips help you manage your sugar levels, and be mindful of what you are eating.
(The writer is a clinical nutritionist with a focus on healthy lifestyle choices.)