Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition where the insulin your pancreas makes can’t work properly, or your pancreas can’t make enough insulin. Poor insulin production causes blood sugar levels to keep rising, and, if left untreated, can pose grave health risks such as heart disease and stroke. Luckily, dietary decisions can compensate for the lack of insulin and provide a robust defence against rising blood sugar levels.

Certain foods should be shunned or drastically cut down on to avert the risk of rising blood sugar levels, and as a general rule, foods that rank low on the glycemic index are best to be avoided or eaten in moderation to manage blood sugar levels.

The glycemic index, or GI, measures how a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose.

A food with a high GI raises blood glucose more than a food with a medium or low GI.

According to the American Diabetes Association, meal planning with the GI involves choosing foods that have a low or medium GI. If eating a food with a high GI, you can combine it with low GI foods to help balance the meal.

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Examples of carbohydrate-containing foods with a low GI include dried beans and legumes (like kidney beans and lentils), all non-starchy vegetables, some starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, most fruit, and many whole grain breads and cereals (like barley, whole wheat bread, rye bread, and all-bran cereal).

Including certain drinks with your meals can also help to keep blood sugar levels in check, and research makes the case for drinking chamomile tea.

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Research investigating the health benefits of drinking chamomile tea suggest its anti-inflammatory properties may prevent damage to the cells of your pancreas, which occurs when your blood sugar levels are chronically elevated.

In one study of 64 diabetic people, those who consumed chamomile tea daily with meals for eight weeks had significantly lower average blood sugar levels than those who consumed water.

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Additionally, several animal studies suggest that chamomile tea may lower fasting blood sugar levels by a considerable amount, and it may also be beneficial for preventing blood sugar spikes after eating.

It is also important to avoid certain drinks to ward off the threat of rising blood sugar levels.

Sugary soft drinks are one of the worst culprits, according to Diabetes.co.uk: “Sugary soft drinks are high in both carbohydrates and calories and generally contain no nutritional value aside from energy, which can lead to taking in more energy than the body needs, or leading to not taking in enough vitamins and minerals.”

Sugary soft drinks are generally best avoided but can be useful if you specifically need to raise your blood glucose levels, such as before, during or after exercise or to help treat a hypo (when your blood sugar level is too low), adds the health site.

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Exercise plays a pivotal role in blood sugar management, and a new study suggests that by changing the timing of when you eat and exercise, you can better control your blood sugar levels.

A six-week study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, involved thirty men classified as obese or overweight and compared results from two intervention groups (who ate breakfast before / after exercise) and a control group (who made no lifestyle changes). It found that people who performed exercise before breakfast burned double the amount of fat than the group who exercised after breakfast.

They found that increased fat use is mainly due to lower insulin levels during exercise when people have fasted overnight, which means that they can use more of the fat from their fat tissue and the fat within their muscles as a fuel.

Whilst this did not lead to any differences for weight loss over six weeks, it did have ‘profound and positive’ effects on their health because their bodies were better able to respond to insulin, keeping blood sugar levels under control and potentially lowering the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?

Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Urinating more than usual, particularly at night
  • Feeling thirsty all the time
  • Feeling very tired
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
  • Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
  • Blurred vision
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See a GP if you have any of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes or you’re worried you may have a higher risk of getting it, advises the NHS.

The health body added: “The earlier diabetes is diagnosed and treatment started, the better. Early treatment reduces your risk of other health problems.”



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