How to naturally prevent and manage diabetes
Receiving a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes can be devastating. It may even come as a surprise when you visit your doctor for another health complaint. You didn’t even suspect you had it. The early signs of diabetes can be subtle and easy to ignore.
Millions of people worldwide are living with diabetes; many are undiagnosed. Almost everybody knows someone who has it. There are just as many opinions about how to manage your diabetes. Some people offer good advice, but others are not backed by science.
We are living in a world where it is easy for people to share their views. It is important to check your sources before embarking on a treatment, diet or lifestyle change. Is the information purely anecdotal, or has it been well researched? Your health is at stake and making the wrong choice can set you back as much as ignoring the condition can. If in doubt, check with your healthcare team.
When you were first diagnosed, you likely felt a little scared. You probably knew of someone who died from the complications of Type 2 Diabetes. You were afraid of needles and didn't want to have to inject yourself with insulin everyday. You knew that you were going to have to make some changes to your diet. You may have felt like you had let yourself down.
While the diagnosis may be a bit scary, diabetes can be relatively easily managed so that you can continue to live a healthy life, well into old age.
Is Diabetes a lifelong disorder?
Type 2 Diabetes can be a consequence of poor lifestyle choices1. Your blood sugar can rise over time because you eat too much unhealthy food or don’t exercise enough. Although there is a genetic predisposition to developing type 2 diabetes, what you eat and drink and how much exercise you do can influence the condition2. When you change your lifestyle habits and incorporate scientifically supported natural therapies you can prevent, manage and even reverse diabetes3.
Even though it can be reversed, you will still be at risk of diabetes becoming a recurring problem4. Losing weight and maintaining your weight loss helps to improve insulin sensitivity, making blood glucose control more efficient5. Reverting to your old eating habits is likely to result in you regaining the weight you lost and diabetes coming to the fore again.
Early signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes
Recognising that you have diabetes early improves your chances of reversing the condition using diet and lifestyle measures alone6.
Insulin resistance is the first step in the development of the condition. If you gain weight easily, find it difficult to lose weight and struggle with fatigue, you might be insulin resistant7. This is the best time to look at your dietary choices and make some changes to support a normal blood sugar and insulin response when you eat.
As the condition progresses insulin resistance is exacerbated and your blood sugar levels rise. Recognised signs of type 2 diabetes include excessive thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, blurred vision and increased hunger8.
Testing your blood sugar level gives you an idea of how it changes when you eat. Before eating, or when you wake up in the morning, a normal blood glucose level is 3.9 to 5 mmol/l (70 to 99 mg/dl). This is referred to as your fasting blood glucose level. If you have diabetes you may be waking up with a higher sugar level9.
When you eat it is normal for blood sugar to rise. Ideally it should not go higher than 7.8 mmol/l (140 mg/dl). If your blood sugar is regularly higher than 7.8 mmol/l (140 mg/dl) you should consider changing the foods you eat that cause it to rise that high9.
Better dietary choices can transform your health
The management of diabetes involves a combination of medication, diet, exercise, natural therapies and other lifestyle factors. Because blood sugar levels depend on what you eat, diet is the cornerstone of diabetes management10.
A healthy diet for diabetes is a balanced diet that includes foods from all food groups. Using the food plate model, your main focus is on including plenty of vegetables. When you dish up a meal, fill half of your plate with vegetables first. A quarter of your plate will then contain a portion of lean protein - about the size of the palm of your hand, and the remaining quarter, a portion of fiber-rich carbohydrate. Fiber-rich foods help to slow the release of glucose into your blood10.
Some foods are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly. Refined carbohydrate foods are the biggest culprits when it comes to high blood sugar levels. Because they have been processed, possibly ground to a fine powder and the fiber has been removed, your body doesn’t have to do much work to break down the starches into their simplest form - sugar11.
The sugar you add to your coffee is the most obvious example of a refined carbohydrate food. Sugar is added to many tasty foods such as candy, chocolate, desserts and cold drinks. When you have diabetes it is important to limit these foods or, even better, avoid them all together.
Other carbohydrate foods that can cause a spike in blood sugar include anything made with white flour such as bread, cakes, pizza, cookies and bagels. Sugary, processed breakfast cereals, and white rice also need to be controlled.
If you do enjoy foods such as these from time to time, the best way to do it is to include them in a balanced meal. Make sure to include plenty of fiber-rich foods, especially vegetables in those meals. Protein and healthy fats are also useful for reducing the glycaemic response. So, if you love potatoes, eat them in a meal that includes meat, fish, chicken or legumes, and use an oil such as olive or avocado oil for cooking or to dress your vegetables or salad12.
Foods from Natureland that can help manage your diabetes
At Natureland we have your health at heart. Our products are all organic and free of preservatives, artificial flavors and colors. While not all of our products are suitable for people living with diabetes, we have numerous tasty foods for you to try.
Natureland has a wide variety of products that are suitable for people living with diabetes. Ranging from sourdough bread, to vinegars, herbs, spices and oils. Whether you are looking for a snack or a healthy way to add flavor to your food, we have something for you:
- Examples of snacks you could include from our range include Noreez Sea Vegetable Snack, Natureland Hazelnuts, Natureland Pistachios, and Natureland Trail Mix.
- For breakfast you could try our Natureland Fine Rolled Oats.
- Our nut butters are a great choice if you are looking for something to spread on your sourdough bread. Choose from Natureland Almond Butter, Natureland Cashew Butter, Natureland Sesame Butter, and Natureland Peanut Butter.
- We have a wide variety of herbs and spices for you to add some delicious flavor to your meals. Particularly useful in the management of diabetes are Natureland Ceylon Cinnamon, Natureland Turmeric, Natureland Fenugreek, Natureland Barley Grass Powder, and Natureland Wheat Grass Powder.
- Healthy oils can make your meals taste great. We have a diverse range for you to choose from.
- Other food products you may be interested in to help manage your blood sugar levels include Natureland Cider Vinegar, Natureland Black Seed Oil, Natureland Aloe Vera Juice, Natureland Flax Oil, and Natureland Wild Smoked Salmon.
Bonus recipe: Diabetes tonic drink
We originally came across this recipe on EarthClinic.com. It is a great way to use some potent ingredients available in our online store.
3 Tbsp Natureland Aloe Vera Juice
2 Tbsp Natureland Cider Vinegar
1 Tbsp Natureland Wheat or Barley Grass Powder
⅛ tsp Natureland Green Stevia
⅛ tsp Natureland Baking Soda.
Add all of the ingredients to a glass and fill with cold water. Stir well to combine and drink with a straw.
The aloe vera juice can help improve your fasting blood glucose levels13. Apple cider vinegar has been shown to reduce blood sugar readings after meals and it may also help to reduce your early morning reading14. Research has found that wheatgrass can lower the glycaemic index of a meal, so drinking it in this tonic either before or after a meal may help to control how high your sugar levels rise after eating15.
A note on bread
Bread is something many people with diabetes struggle with. Most commercially baked breads cause a drastic spike in blood sugar levels. Our customers regularly report that our whole grain sourdough bread is the only one they have found that does not result in high blood sugar levels after eating it.
Even when sourdough breads are made from the same flours as other breads, the fermentation process is vastly different. The use of a sourdough starter results in a bread that is digested more slowly, releasing glucose into the bloodstream more gradually16.
Change your lifestyle; Change your life
A healthy diet is the cornerstone of diabetes management, but other lifestyle factors are important too. Exercise, enough good quality sleep and stress management all go a long way to ensuring healthy blood sugar control.
Exercise is especially useful for moving glucose out of your blood. A regular exercise routine will help you manage your diabetes. It doesn’t have to be a gym workout, a walk after dinner can be just as useful. The goal is to move everyday. Aim for thirty minutes of exercise on most days of the week17.
Diabetes management and Natureland products
A healthy diet for diabetes includes a wide variety of foods. You do need to be careful about which foods you choose to include in your diet on a daily basis, but they are the same foods that everyone should be eating. You do not have to live a life full of bland meals. Balance your plate with plenty of colourful vegetables and moderate portions of lean proteins and unrefined carbohydrates. Add flavor with herbs and spices and improve your blood sugar control with ingredients with scientific backing. You can manage your diabetes and possibly reverse it by making healthy food choices.