A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can be hard to deal with and an information gap can make it even more challenging. So, here are some diet and lifestyle recommendations that you can adopt to help you feel more in control.
Smart food choices
The defining feature of any diet to manage diabetes is the focus on ‘whole’ or unprocessed foods including fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and lean meats. At the same time intake of heavily or ultra-processed foods must be severely restricted or eliminated as they tend to contain many added ingredients, such as sugar, trans fat, artificial colours or preservatives.
You should also keep in mind that not all carbs are bad. Foods that contain complex carbs or slow digesting carbs (ie. whole grains, barley, brown rice), healthy fats, proteins, fibre, vitamins, and minerals, are essential elements in any balanced diet. A balanced diet can provide you with the required amounts of necessary vitamins and minerals. While supplements can be used to compensate for any dietary deficiency that may occur due to different reasons.
It would also be a good idea for you to consult your healthcare professional for guidance on a personalised meal plan that focuses on low glycaemic foods (read more about this in our article here) as this can help to stabilise blood sugar levels and avoid spikes.
Of course, when it comes to managing diabetes effectively, dietary changes extend beyond food choices. You should also adopt healthy eating habits, such as controlling portion size and eating at fixed and regular intervals to keep blood sugar levels stable and prevent sudden spikes.
Diabetes control does not require any specific exercise as any form of physical activity that raises your heart rate and breathing rate strengthens the cardiovascular system, which includes your heart and lungs. This is why cardio or aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, or cycling are so effective at improving and maintaining blood glucose control. As far as possible, try to dedicate at least 30 minutes of your time to such activities, 3 days a week3. In addition to cardio, weight or strength training exercises and yoga can help build strength and balance, which improves your overall fitness levels and also aids weight loss.
Yoga is widely accepted as both a form of physical exercise and a stress reduction technique that can help to lower levels of cortisol (the main hormone associated with stress and anxiety). As levels of cortisol drop, feelings of stress in the body are also reduced4.
For many patients, diet and exercise alone may not suffice for the management of blood sugar levels. In such cases, your healthcare professional may prescribe diabetes medications. If you can’t maintain your target blood sugar level with diet and exercise, your healthcare professional may prescribe diabetes medications. Medication needs can change over time as nowadays medications are quite advanced with different types of medications.
How supplements can support type 2 diabetes management
The survey conducted by Hello Health Group showed that 86% of the survey participants in India regarded diet or nutrition as the most important area of focus in any diabetes self-management plan. However, many of those living with diabetes indicated that they had inadequate knowledge about diabetes-specific formulas, with over 40% expressing interest in learning more about such products and how they could use them to improve blood sugar management^.
Consuming diabetes-specific nutrition as a meal replacement for breakfast and afternoon or evening snacks has resulted in lower blood glucose levels after breakfast, for those living with Type 2 diabetes.
Supplements with micronutrients like zinc and chromium may be beneficial for people with diabetes. Zinc and chromium are important for carbohydrate metabolism and supplementation has been shown to aid glycaemic control in individuals who have type 2 diabetes5,6. Similarly, monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) could offer increased protection against heart disease by improving various factors that affect heart disease risk7. Vitamin B12 is also advised for people who have low levels of this vitamin, which is not uncommon among patients who take the diabetes medication metformin8.
Ensure® is the #1 selling diabetes supplement nutrition drink in the world* and contains 35 nutrients for effective blood glucose management. The formula is clinically-proven to aid glucose level management and has a low glycaemic index (GI) to help manage blood glucose response**. It can help manage hunger and contains chromium, which contributes to the maintenance of normal blood glucose levels.
Although vitamins and minerals are best obtained directly through dietary sources, taking them as diabetes-specific nutritional supplements is often necessary and can help to ensure that you meet your nutritional requirements. If you are considering supplements, make it a point to first discuss options that work best for you with your healthcare professional.
Looking for more ways to keep safe in the new normal while managing diabetes? Take our fun quiz here and learn how you can champion your immunity!
* Source: Euromonitor International Limited; total global retail sales in 2020 for diabetic diet enhancer drinks that are not marketed as a meal replacement product. Euromonitor and Abbott calculation based in part on Lifestyle Nutrition custom homescan panel database and Health Shopper survey for Abbott’s custom Diabetes Nutrition category for the 52 weeks ending January 2nd, 2021 time period, Total US All Outlet. Copyright © 2021, NielsenIQ Consumer LLC., and Euromonitor Passport Consumer Health 2021.
** Glucerna includes slow release carbohydrates to help minimise blood sugar spikes among people living with diabetes.
Devitt, A.A., Oliver, J.S., Hegazi, R.A. and Mustad, V.A., 2012. Glycemia targeted specialized nutrition (GTSN) improves postprandial glycemia and GLP-1 with similar appetitive responses compared to a healthful whole food breakfast in persons with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled trial. Journal of Diabetes Research and Clinical Metabolism, 1(20), pp.1-18.
^The survey was commissioned by Abbott and conducted by Hello Health Group from May to July 2021 across Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, India, and Taiwan with 771 respondents who live with type 2 diabetes