Lifestyle changes are often advised for people at higher risk of diabetes and those who are newly diagnosed with type2, to help manage their diabetes. Here are some proactive lifestyle changes to prevent diabetes.
1. Walking 5000-10000 steps a day
‘Get moving’ is a mantra for anyone with type 2 diabetes, and one of the best ways to do that is by walking and tracking the steps you take each day. Setting yourself a target of walking 10,000 steps a day can be a fun way to increase the amount of physical activity you do. Initially one may begin with walking 5,000 steps and gradually escalating it to 10,000 steps per day. These days many high tech devices are available, which help to track activity levels; like a simple pedometer. This helps you to start out slowly and objectively track your progress.
A person aged 45 and weighing 70kg can burn around 400 calories by walking 10,000 steps briskly (3-5mph). Walking, running or jogging a total of 10,000 steps per day improves a person's insulin sensitivity and that can reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Walking gives a lot of health benefits like better sugar control, weight management, relieves stress, improved heart health, lesser complications. Please get your physician’s clearance before starting any physical activity. Lifting small weights, using resistance bands are further helpful in getting your muscles stronger and toned.
There are some downloadable programmes, or apps, which make your smartphone motivate you in the pursuit of healthful living and diabetes management.
2. Standing while working
Increase in standing work stations; spending more of your day standing could reduce the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. A standing desk can help you avoid the health risks of sitting at a desk all day and also burn more calories while you're at it. Getting dictations while walking around in the office also helps to be more active. There are many calorie burning calculators available, like just-stand, which reveal how many extra calories need to be burnt.
3. Increase in Protein intake
In recent years, high-protein diets have become very popular. These diets offer greater weight loss, better blood sugar control, and less hunger than the rest. Diets high in protein and low in carbohydrates significantly decrease the HBA1c levels and show improved insulin sensitivity. Studies have found that short-term weight loss and better blood glucose control have been possible for people with diabetes who follow a high-protein diet. Encouraging results have been observed in people following a high-protein diet. It’s important to get micro albumin levels checked before starting on high protein diet.
Meal replacement shakes and nutrition bars
These are simple and effective weight loss tools for overweight or obese people with diabetes. These products have shown advantages over self-selective weight loss diets. Meal replacement shakes and nutrition bars provide a mixture of protein, carbohydrate, and fat, along with added vitamins and minerals. The shakes come in liquid ready-to-drink or powder formulae that require mixing. They are designed to mimic a low-calorie meal or snack and to be easy and quick to consume. Meal replacement shakes and nutrition bars have grown in popularity and variety in recent years and have proven to be a viable option to support weight loss.
4. Increase Berries
These are good foods for healthy weight loss. These nutritious fruits are high in antioxidants and other nutrients. They are low in ‘energy density’, or concentrated calories, to help feel full and satisfied after eating. Fresh berries like blueberries, strawberries, cranberries and raspberries are full of fibre. Soluble fibres lower the absorption of carbohydrate nutrients from food, producing a gradual increase in blood sugar after eating and preventing spikes in blood sugar that require large amounts of insulin. Berries delay and reduce sugar absorption.
5. Increase Nuts
Nuts contain unsaturated fats, protein and a range of vitamins and minerals that lower cholesterol, inflammation and insulin resistance. A handful of nuts like almonds, walnuts and pistachio nuts should be included in the diet to control blood sugars and fats (triglycerides). Nuts should be preferred as a healthy snacking option.
6. Increase in healthy oils containing MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids)
Being selective about the types of fat you eat is important for your heart health. Saturated fat and trans-fat raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or ‘bad’) cholesterol levels in the blood, which raises the risk of developing heart disease. The types of fat that are good for heart are monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and a type of polyunsaturated fat called omega-3 fatty acids. Plant sources high in monounsaturated fats include most nuts and certain vegetable oils, including canola oil, olive oil, high-oleic safflower oil, and high-oleic sunflower oil. Plant sources high in polyunsaturated fats include walnuts, flaxseed, and some vegetable oils, including soybean oil, corn oil, regular safflower oil, and canola oil.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found primarily in seafood, especially cold-water fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, albacore tuna, and lake trout. However, there are some plant-based products that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, including soybean oil, canola oil, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
7. Increase seeds intake
Power foods like flaxseeds, chia seeds, sunflower and fenugreek seeds are rich in nutrients like fats (omega-3), fibre and antioxidants. Flaxseeds, good source of fibre, aid in digestion, prevent constipation, and help suppress hunger. Intake of freshly ground flaxseeds or flaxseed products help in reducing HBA1c level. Research shows that various flaxseed preparations, including ground flaxseed, partially de-fatted flaxseed, and flaxseed bread and muffins, seem to reduce total cholesterol and the ‘bad cholesterol’, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, in people with normal cholesterol levels. Fenugreek seeds may be helpful to people with diabetes as they contain fiber and other chemicals that are thought to slow digestion and the body’s absorption of carbohydrates and sugar. The seeds may also help to improve the way the body uses sugar and increase the amount of insulin released.
Bhavya Munjal, Clinical Nutritionist & Certified Diabetes Educator
Dr. Anoop Misra, Chairman, Fortis-C-DOC Centre of Excellence forDiabetes, Metabolic Diseases andEndocrinology