8 – 14 June 2014 marks Diabetes UK’s annual Diabetes Week which aims to raise awareness of the condition, and the NHS Health Check invites adults in England, aged 40 to 74, for a health assessment which aims to identify those at risk of serious, but potentially avoidable conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. Given that concern, Dr Weil’s advice is very timely.
To keep blood sugar levels stable and diabetes at bay, weight control and regular exercise are helpful – but a healthy diet is a must. Some of these foods are familiar, some may not be, but adding them to your diet, can help lower blood sugar levels.
1 Green, leafy vegetables. Broccoli, spinach, and kale are good sources of fiber – which helps regulate blood sugar levels – and are high in vitamins A, C, and K as well. Plus, some studies have shown that eating vegetables can help prevent diabetes, so aim for four to five servings per day.
2 Beans and legumes. Beans of almost any variety as well as lentils are rich in folic acid, magnesium, potassium and soluble fiber – and are low-glycemic-load foods. Make sure you get one to two servings per day.
3 Cabbage. A very low-glycemic index food (near zero!), cabbage is high in fiber, low in calories, inexpensive and versatile. It’s especially useful for stabilizing blood-sugar levels because it converts to sugar very slowly in the body. Try eating more slaw, sauerkraut or kimchi.
4 Okra. This southern staple is high in soluble fiber – which slows down the digestion of carbohydrates and can help stabilize blood sugar – and is also a low glycemic-index food. Try adding it to your next pot of soup.
5 Onions. This kitchen staple is more than a tasty addition to many dishes – onions offer blood-sugar lowering effects.
6 Maitake mushrooms. One of Dr. Weil’s favorites, maitake not only contain compounds that enhance immune function, but in one study people with type 2 diabetes were given maitake along with diabetes medication, and the result was lower blood sugar readings. Cook some up and serve them as a side dish.
7 Underground vegetables. Also known as “tubers,” veggies such as leeks, potatoes and yams have been shown in studies to lower or return to normal high blood sugar levels.
8 Brewer’s yeast. Rich in essential amino acids and B vitamins, brewer’s yeast may also lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes, and may improve glucose tolerance, increase insulin sensitivity, and lower cholesterol as well. Shake some on your next batch of popped corn.
9 Prickly pear. The green pads of this plant are called nopal, and is more than a staple in Mexican cuisine – it is very low on the glycemic index and may have blood-sugar-lowering effects. Look for it at specialty or ethnic grocers.
10 Bitter melon. When cooked and added to other dishes, bitter melon will impart a unique flavor that may help glucose tolerance of people with type 2 diabetes, and help keep blood sugar levels in the normal range.
How does progesterone help blood sugar?
One of the many functions of progesterone is blood sugar regulation and in women such sugar imbalances are an increasingly common problem. This is related to oestrogen dominance, as hormonal imbalance and excess oestrogen from sources such as HRT and those chemical xenoestrogens in the environment are known to be a contributing factor.
Blood sugar imbalance can lead to diabetes as well as contributing to weight gain so getting control of your hormones is a good place to start and ensuring you have good progesterone levels will help that. Staying at an optimum weight, regular exercise and a healthy diet based around protein and complex carbohydrates will all improve your blood sugar levels, just stay away from quick fixes like sweets and sugary drinks as they will raise the levels, but you will also have the corresponding crash that inevitably follows.
If your life contains too many unhealthy elements you will also find a new book by Russ Shipton will give you definite food for thought. ‘Overload’ looks at the crisis in health we face in the developed countries from eating the wrong foods, and too much of them. This is creating a huge crisis in the NHS but it is preventable, and he offers strategies for improving health through increased self-responsibility. It is by New Generation Publishing at £9.99