Type 2 diabetes causes the body not to respond to insulin properly, causing blood sugar levels to become too high. If blood sugar isn’t controlled properly and stays too high, a number of problems can occur, including kidney failure, nerve damage, foot ulcers, heart disease and stroke.
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So what can you do to keep blood sugar levels in check?
Simple lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet can help manage blood sugar.
The NHS advises as a general rule: “There’s nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you’ll have to limit certain foods.
“You should eat a wide range of foods – including fruit, vegetables and some starchy foods like pasta, keep sugar, fat and salt to a minimum, and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day – do not skip meals.”
But certain food and drink have also been found to have a positive impact on blood sugar levels.
Experts recommend people drink six to eight glasses of fluid a day. Water is a healthy and cheap choice for quenching thirst.
But in recent times, a certain type of water has been shown to provide benefits against diabetes.
Coconut water has been proven to lower blood sugar levels and improve other health markers in diabetic animals.
In one study, diabetic rats were treated with coconut water and maintained better blood sugar levels than other diabetic rats.
The same study also found rats had lower levels of haemoglobin A1C – a measure of long-term blood sugar control.
Another study found providing coconut water to rats with diabetes led to improvements in blood sugar levels and reductions in markers of oxidative stress, including malondialdehyde.
Controlled studies on humans do need to be carried out, but coconut water is a good source of magnesium, which has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and decrease blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.
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Other ways to lower blood sugar
Alongside eating a healthy diet, being active can help lower blood sugar levels.
The NHS advises: “Physical exercise helps lower your blood sugar level. You should aim for 2.5 hours of activity a week.
“You can be active anywhere as long as what you’re doing gets you out of breath. This could be fast walking, climbing stairs and doing more strenuous housework or gardening.”
Losing weight if you’re overweight is also recommended.
The health body adds: “Losing weight (if you’re overweight) will make it easier for your body to lower your blood sugar level, and can improve your blood pressure and cholesterol.
“If you need to lose weight, try to do it slowly over time. Aim for around 0.5 to 1kg a week.”
Bupa also recommends stopping smoking. It explains: “Smoking is unhealthy for everyone, but it’s especially bad if you have diabetes
“Diabetes increases your risk of developing circulatory problems, heart disease and stroke.
“Your risk of these conditions is even higher if you smoke and have diabetes too.”
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