You plan your plate of food right down to the last grain. But, your blood sugar levels may not still have stabilised. Wonder why?
This could be because your metabolism– your body’s ability to process and assimilate the food you eat–may not be working at its best efficiency. Healthy diabetes management is not only about the food you eat it’s also about how well you can digest it. Simply put: It’s not the ‘what’, it’s the ‘how’. You are what you metabolise. Food for thought, indeed!
Metabolism is the process by which your body converts the food you eat into energy and fuel for all its important functions. Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) affects metabolism because of your insulin resistance. Correcting metabolism and bringing it into balance may help you better manage your blood sugar.
When you eat a diet rich in bread, rice, chapatis or maida, all those carbs do not get converted and metabolised into fuel. Instead, the extra calories get stored in the liver as fat causing a condition called ‘fatty liver’. Insulin and glucose work like a lock and key system or like different pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. According to nutritionist and Food Science expert Rimjhim Misra Chaturvedi, it’s important to understand what happens inside your body. “Insulin carries glucose to the cells where they metabolise to energy and burn it off. These receptor cells get masked in T2DM and there’s free glucose in the bloodstream. This insulin resistance, the main cause for diabetes, is a lifestyle disorder,” she says.
But, all this mind-boggling biology aside, if metabolism is the culprit, it can also be the cure. Pay attention to your metabolism to balance and manage your T2DM. Chaturvedi, who conducts corporate workshops on lifestyle, gives you the four Must Do’s to follow.
1. EAT ALKALINE: An acidic body increases inflammation which impacts insulin metabolism. This leads to insulin resistance. An acidic body also stores more fat to protect against acid leading to insulin resistance. The result – high blood sugar levels and pancreatic exhaustion.
When you go alkaline, your digestion eases up and metabolism changes. The body doesn’t store fat thereby reversing insulin resistance and managing blood sugar levels. Say yes to a plant-based diet that carries loads of trace minerals like selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium that regulate blood sugar. A deficiency in these can lead to diabetes.
Say no to lots of cooked food, animal fat and protein, tea and coffee. Add superfoods – powdered or soaked fenugreek seeds half hour before meals; Sri Lankan rolled cinnamon powder with lemon water; a little green tea; jamun fruit or seed powder with flax seeds; jamun vinegar with water before meals; bitter gourd or bottle gourd juices; pumpkin seeds; isabgol and Indian rennet; cold-pressed coconut oil; lightly steamed sprouts.
2. EXERCISE/ DESTRESS/SLEEP/FAST: When you exercise for 30-45 minutes a day 5 times a week, you use your muscles, increase your insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin resistance. Exercise changes your metabolism by opening up cell receptors to pass sugar from the bloodstream to the cells where they are utilised as fuel or expended as energy. Cardio, strength training, yoga and pranayama increase circulation, stimulate the pancreas and aid in better digestion.
Combine this with deep belly breathing to the count of 4(inhale) 7(retain) 8(exhale) or 4(inhale) 6(exhale), meditation, journaling, listening to white noise or relaxing music so that your stress levels reduce. “Stress hormone cortisol’s function is to store fat and raise blood sugar in reaction to stress- the fight/flight response. Chronic stress or stress that lasts for more than three months impairs digestion and metabolism leading to insulin resistance,’’ says Chaturvedi.
10 pm to 6 am is the ideal time to snooze because your body detoxes from 11 pm to 7 am. This is when the hormonal cycle completes itself. “For example, men grow beards only at night when the testosterone levels peak from 3 am to 4 am,’’ adds Chaturvedi. Watching your sleep cycle means decreasing inflammation, lowering cortisol and insulin resistance thereby correcting metabolism.
And if you want to further help your metabolism, cause that fat burn, better your sleep and control blood sugar, you could check with your doctor first and practise intermittent fasting twice a week. This fast can be practised for twelve, fourteen or sixteen hours for eg. 8pm to 8am without food or water.
3. BACK AWAY FROM REFINED CARBS AND SUGAR: White flour, refined rice, bread, maida, sugar, maple syrup…these get broken down very easily spiking blood sugar (upsetting your metabolism as your body tries to produce more insulin) and then also crashing those levels very sharply causing hyper and hypoglycemia.
If you choose complex high fibre carbohydrates, you could reverse your diabetes in as little as a year depending on your baseline data. Choose foods that have resistant starch that is not digested by the body thereby acting like a brush along the intestine such as raw potatoes and unripe bananas. And if you must cheat, do it cleverly…combine a sweet mango with a bit of green banana; jaggery with raw potato juice or a rice payasam with isabgol! Remember to eat every 2.5 to 3 hours though.
4. KEEP IT DOWN- GLYCEMIC INDEX(GI)/GLYCEMIC LOAD(GL): This is a measure of how quickly foods can increase your blood sugar levels and is dependent on the surface area of the food. For eg. A slice of bread has a high GI of 100 and a bigger glycemic load because it is big in size and the body has to use more energy to break it down thus taxing your metabolism provoking a blood sugar imbalance.
Choose fibre. Choose foods with a GI of 55 or less. Apples, oranges, peaches, citrus fruits, pulses, legumes, brown rice, protein-rich fish, eggs or meat, oils, nuts, seeds, ghee are low GI or foods that stay in your intestines longer and take a longer time to break down causing a very slow release of blood sugar.
GL is a ranking system for the quantity of carbohydrates in a serving of food. Choose foods that have a low GL of 10 and the impact on your blood sugar will be minimal. “Watermelon has a GI of 72 but a GL of 7.21 so eat it but in smaller portions. Combine it with a protein, resistant starch or complex carb and you’re sorted,’’ adds Chaturvedi. Try sweet potato chaat with black chana or khichdi over plain rice. And do mind the portion size!
|FAST FACTS (based on systematic observation of her clients over a period of three to six months between 2017-2018)|
|90/120 PEOPLE REDUCED THEIR HbA1c by an average of 1.8 per cent in 3 months when they followed a low GI/GL alkaline diet.|
|3/5 reduced their insulin dosage by less than half through a functional food diet in 15 days.|
|2/5 people went off their insulin and diabetes oral medication by correcting metabolism with the help of diet, activity and lifestyle changes.|