Start with a Healthy Diet and Add These Two Things to Control Blood Sugar
A healthy diet and an active lifestyle are important for blood sugar control in both prediabetes and in Type 2 Diabetes.
Obviously eating well and monitoring your carbohydrate intake are cornerstones for managing your blood sugar levels if you are diabetic. Hopefully you have already begun cutting out overly-processed and sugary foods and have started eating more fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains. Researchers have found that adding two nutrients to an already healthful diet may have additional benefits.
In two separate studies, scientists have found that both protein-rich and probiotic-containing foods may help keep blood sugar levels in check by slowing down the digestion of carbohydrates, thus preventing the blood sugar spikes that can lead to complications.
Huicui Meng of Tufts University says that combining a protein with carbohydrate is an important concept in an overall healthy diet. For example, eating toast alone leads to faster digestion and a more rapid increase in blood sugar. But eating the same toast as part of a tuna sandwich will slow down that digestion, thus leading to a smoother rise in levels – which means fewer distressing symptoms.
Interestingly, although fat is also a slower-digesting food, adding butter to the toast did not seem to have the same beneficial effect as the protein.
"Protein may stimulate the release of some gut hormones that may slow the gastric empty rate," Meng said. That's the speed at which food leaves the stomach for digestion in the intestines.
Probiotics, a type of “good” bacteria, may also help diabetic achieve a reduction in blood sugar levels, says Arjun Pandley of Waterloo Collegiate Institute in Ontario, Canada. In this study, participants started out following a heart-healthy DASH diet and added probiotic foods, such as yogurt.
Those who added probiotics to their diet achieved a better reduction in their fasting blood sugar and their hemoglobin A1C levels (a long term measure of blood sugar control). Probiotics are thought to produce compounds that make it easier for cells to use insulin to convert blood sugar into energy.
These studies were small and are still considered preliminary, but they are “lifestyle changes that are easy to do and important for the large amount of the population who have metabolic syndrome or are prediabetic,” says Dr. Prakash Deedwania, a professor of cardiology at the University of California San Fransicso.
SOURCE: Huicui Meng, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher, Tufts University Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Boston; Arjun Pandey, student, Waterloo Collegiate Institute, Ontario, Canada; Prakash Deedwania, M.D., professor, cardiology, University of California, San Francisco; November 2016, American Heart Association, annual meeting, New Orleans
Photo Credit: By Rainer Zenz - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons