As well as managing your diet there is a lot you can to support your diabetes or pre-diabetic condition through lifestyle.
Exercise for Type 2 diabetes
Regularly moving your body can help alleviate the symptoms of many health conditions, and there is lots of evidence to support exercise for those with diabetes.
If you’re obese you’re more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes.
The excess weight can play a role in the symptoms of the condition.
Being overweight contributes to insulin resistance because our fat cells release substances that interfere with the way insulin works.
When fat cells, particularly those around the abdomen, become full of fat, they send out messages that reduce the impact of insulin.
These messages (resistin, leptin, tumor necrosis factor, free fatty acids) impair glucose utilisation in our muscles. They also signal to the liver to make more glucose, as well as slow release of insulin from the pancreas.
As the number and size of fat cells increase, there is a reduction a protein produced by fat cells known as adiponectin.
Adiponectin helps improve insulin sensitivity.
It also has anti-inflammatory activity, lowers triglycerides, and blocks the development of atherosclerosis, so we need this around!
Exercise has been shown to lower the blood glucose marker (HbA1C) and can help with weight loss.
Increasing cardio respiratory fitness and muscle strength is important for you if you have diabetes.
Aim for 4 hours a week as a start, which can include walking. A slow gradual weight loss will give better results in balancing blood sugars.
Does intermittent fasting help diabetes?
It’s not just about what you eat, but also how you eat. Could you use a Time Restricted Feeding window?
Just shortening the time period within a day within which you which you eat, can help those with pre-diabetic conditions, or non-insulin controlled diabetes.
You only eat within a 10 hour food window,
Pick a time that works for you, say 8am to 6pm and you don’t eat before or after that. It stops you picking at food during the evening, and allows your digestive system to rest, and your body to regenerate.
Time Restricted Feeding rebalances your blood sugars, raises bile acid production, increases energy expenditure and reduces inflammation.
Some research has found that not eating for long periods of time during a day reprograms energy metabolism and body weight regulation. This could be useful if you’re looking to change your hunger patterns and lose weight.
Give it a try for a month, or if you can’t face doing it every day, start with 3 days a week.
If you’ve got Type 1 diabetes fasting should be undertaken only under the care of a medical professional as your medication dose, regularity or type may need changing. It’s important to check your blood sugars regularly.
Managing stress for diabetes control
Our stress hormone, cortisol can also play a role in the way insulin works. High levels of cortisol increase glucose in the blood, and reduce the way insulin works.
If you’re chronically stressed your body will struggle to manage your blood sugars from your food.
Find time to relax and do things that bring you calm and joy.
Your Action Points – Top Type 2 diabetes lifestyle support tips
As well as managing your diet to support better blood sugars you can also:
- Aim for a minimum of 4 hours exercise a week – however it suits you to move your body
- Keep active all day long, don’t just rely on a one hour exercise class but sit down the rest of the day
- Aim to eat 3 meals a day without snacking in between
- Eat within a 10 hour window, don’t eat outside these times
- Manage your stress – find a way to unwind and reduce cortisol.
Hi I'm Anna Mapson, registered Nutritionist (mBANT, CNHC). I help people with IBS, SIBO, reflux and other gut health issues.
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