Best Health - - STYLE NEWS - by JILL BUCHNER Jes­sica Tong is a di­eti­tian and cer­ti­fied di­a­betes ed­u­ca­tor in Cal­gary. Dr. Re­nee Koni­dis is a reg­is­tered ki­ne­si­ol­o­gist and clin­i­cal co­or­di­na­tor of the Univer­sity Health Net­work’s Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Preven­tion and Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Pro­gram.


DI­A­BETES IS A CHRONIC DIS­EASE THAT causes high blood sugar lev­els, which can dam­age your or­gans, nerves and blood ves­sels. De­pend­ing on the sever­ity, you may be able to con­trol the dis­ease through life­style changes, par­tic­u­larly with the way you eat.

When you eat car­bo­hy­drates, they are bro­ken down into glu­cose in your blood. Your doc­tor or di­eti­tian will talk to you about con­trol­ling how many car­bo­hy­drates you eat and choos­ing more com­plex car­bo­hy­drates, which break down slower.

But it’s not enough to stick to your pre­scribed amount of carbs; you need to be se­lec­tive with the type of carbs as well. Fo­cus on get­ting plenty of fi­bre (25 to 38 grams each day, de­pend­ing on your age and sex), which is an in­di­gestible form of car­bo­hy­drate that slows food ab­sorp­tion, and re­duce your in­take of added sug­ars (no more than 25 grams a day) be­cause these ready-to-use carbs rush into your blood­stream quickly, caus­ing un­healthy spikes in blood sugar. Added sug­ars in­clude those found in baked goods, honey and fruit juices. Though fresh fruits are a nu­tri­tious op­tion, they con­tain more nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring sug­ars than other whole foods, so limit your­self to no more than two or three serv­ings of fruit each day.

Most of your car­bo­hy­drate in­take should come from whole grains, such as bar­ley, quinoa, oat­meal and sprouted grain breads, as well as legumes, such as len­tils and chick­peas. These op­tions are packed with fi­bre. Legumes also in­clude pro­tein, which slows di­ges­tion. An­other healthy way to slow the ab­sorp­tion of carbs is to add healthy fats, such as salmon, nuts, av­o­cado and olive oil.

Plan­ning meals and snacks through­out the day so that you never go for more than four hours with­out eat­ing will also help keep your blood sugar stable. Every meal and snack should con­tain fi­bre, pro­tein and un­sat­u­rated fat.


EVERY TIME YOUR BODY MOVES, YOUR mus­cles use up the sug­ars in your blood. I teach di­a­betes pa­tients to man­age their blood sugar through phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity. To get you started, I would give you a stress test to mea­sure your base­line fit­ness level. Based on that, I would pre­scribe a plan that spec­i­fies a speed and dis­tance for you to walk, cy­cle or run five days a week. For peo­ple who have been seden­tary, walk­ing will be enough of a phys­i­cal chal­lenge; for those who are more ac­tive, jog­ging might be ap­pro­pri­ate. I would also rec­om­mend do­ing mod­er­ate weight re­sis­tance ex­er­cises for all your ma­jor mus­cle groups two or three times a week.

For the first week of a work­out plan, it’s a good idea to check your blood sugar be­fore and after be­ing ac­tive. Ev­ery­one re­sponds dif­fer­ently, but ex­er­cise shows nearly in­stant ben­e­fits to blood sugar for most peo­ple (it might drop from 12 to 8 mmol/L after a 20-minute walk) so keep­ing track can be very mo­ti­vat­ing. It’s also im­por­tant to test reg­u­larly be­cause, if you’re tak­ing in­sulin or oral med­i­ca­tions that stim­u­late in­sulin se­cre­tion, the added drop in blood sugar could put you at risk of hy­po­glycemia. Many pa­tients end up talk­ing to their doc­tors about low­er­ing their doses after be­gin­ning ex­er­cise pro­grams.

You’ll also see the ben­e­fits in your he­mo­glo­bin A1C test, which re­flects how well you man­aged your blood sugar over the past three months. High lev­els of sugar in the blood make it hard for red blood cells to get through small ar­ter­ies to de­liver oxy­gen. The A1C test looks for that glu­cose buildup in the blood. By ef­fec­tively man­ag­ing your di­a­betes, which is af­fected by med­i­ca­tions, stress, food, sleep and ex­er­cise, you can keep your A1C lev­els be­low seven per­cent and re­duce your risk of heart dis­ease, kid­ney fail­ure and stroke.

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