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Living the sweet life
Tips on coping with high blood sugar levels
MOST people who are diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes are often told about the long-term complications - heart attack and stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and limb amputations. Unfortunately, too few are told that all of these complications are largely preventable with lifestyle changes, which includes diet, nutritional supplements, regular exercise, as well as keeping tabs on a few simple medicals tests such as HbA1c, regular eye examinations, etc.
Below are some simple yet important ways to prevent complications associated with high blood sugar levels.
Having pre-diabetes or diabetes should not prevent you from enjoying a wide variety of foods. The aim is to learn to eat well-balanced meals in the correct amounts. Knowing what to eat can be confusing. Some basic principles have stood the test of time. Here are a few tips on making healthful food choices for you and your entire family.
- Eat lots of vegetables and fruits. Try picking from the rainbow of colours available to maximise variety.
- Eat non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, carrots, broccoli, or green beans with meals.
- Choose whole grain foods over processed grain products. Choose brown rice over white rice and wholemeal bread instead of white.
- Remove the skin from all types of meat, e.g. chicken, beef, etc.
- Choose water and calorie-free "diet" drinks instead of regular soda, fruit punch, sweet tea, and other sugar-sweetened drinks.
- Cut back on high calorie snack foods and desserts like chips, cookies, cakes, and full-fat ice cream.
Exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle for everyone, and it's especially important for people with pre-diabetes and diabetes. But exercise doesn't necessarily mean running a marathon or bench-pressing 100kg. The goal is to get active and stay active by doing things you enjoy, from gardening to playing tennis to walking with friends.
Regular medical tests
The HbA1c (haemoglobin A1c, glycosylated haemoglobin A1c, glycohaemoglobin A1c, or A1c test) is a lab test, which reveals average blood glucose over a period of two to three months. Specifically, it measures the number of glucose molecules attached to haemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells. People who do not have diabetes generally have an HbA1c level of less than 6 %. This means that less than 6 % of their haemoglobin molecules have glucose permanently attached to them.
Based on the results of studies such as the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT), which showed that tight blood glucose control could reduce the risk of diabetic eye, and kidney and nerve disease, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that people with diabetes try to keep their HbA1c level below 7%.
- Eye examination
If you have diabetes, get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. If you have diabetic retinopathy, you may need an eye exam more often. People with proliferative retinopathy can reduce their risk of blindness by 95% with timely treatment and appropriate follow-up care.
- Nutritional supplements
A high-potency daily multivitamin and mineral supplement designed to support the special nutritional needs of people with high blood sugar levels is helpful. Supplying diabetics and pre-diabetics with additional key nutrients has been shown to improve sugar control as well as prevent or reduce the development of the major complications of diabetes.
Specific examples of key nutrients that diabetics need in higher amounts than those found in the ordinary daily multivitamin and mineral formulations include vitamin B1, B6, B12, Biotin, niacinamide, vitamin C, vitamin E, manganese, Vanadyl sulphate, zinc, and chromium.
Diabetics also need more of Alpha Lipoic Acid, a universal antioxidant that can function in both the watery and fatty regions of the cells.
A growing body of research has found a neurologically active vitamin B12 called mecobalamin or methylcobalamin can help regenerate damaged nerves, the most common complication associated with high blood glucose levels.
Mecobalamin or methylcobalamin
Japanese scientists have determined that mecobalamin protects against neurological (nerve) disease and ageing by a unique mechanism that differs from current therapies. Some of the disorders that may be preventable or treatable with this natural vitamin therapy include peripheral neuropathies.
The word neuropathy is derived from two parts: "neuro", referring to the nerve; and "pathy", indicating disease. Peripheral neuropathy is a condition involving the nerves outside the central nervous system, mainly in the arms and legs.
Nerves are the communication lines of the body. Electrical signals from the brain travel through the nerves and give instructions to various parts of the body. The body receives information from the environment through the senses and sends this information to the brain via the nerves.
The majority of the peripheral nerves are responsible for sensations you feel such as touch, pain, and temperature. There are literally millions of these nerve endings in your fingers, hands, toes, and feet, which are designed to keep you out of danger and away from the things that are hot, cold, sharp, etc.
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy may include:
- Numbness or insensitivity to pain or temperature
- A tingling, burning, or prickling sensation
- Sharp pains or cramps
- Extreme sensitivity to touch, even light touch
- Loss of balance and coordination
Diabetics are at higher risk of infections and delayed wound healing. An important study showed that diabetics who take daily supplements for one year experienced less illness and fewer infections compared to study subjects who took placebos.
If you're a diabetic or pre-diabetic, your nutritional requirements are different. Hence, remember to look for a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement that has all the above mentioned ingredients which are found in higher potencies. Take one that is specially formulated for diabetics and pre-diabetics to help optimise health and prevent illnesses.
Having said how important a good daily multivitamin and mineral supplement is for those with high blood sugar levels, it is recommended that one combines it with the neurologically active vitamin B12 mecobalamin because of its ability to help prevent and regenerate damaged nerves, a common complication in those with high blood sugar levels.