Type 2 diabetes is a common condition in the UK and causes the body not to respond to insulin properly, so it doesn’t produce enough. This causes a person’s blood sugar levels to become too high. If blood sugar levels aren’t controlled and stay too high it can lead to a number of problems, including kidney failure, nerve damage, heart disease and stroke, so it’s important to make lifestyle changes to help keep blood sugar in check.
- Type 2 diabetes: Eating this superfood could help fight the condition
Regularly eating a poor diet can increase a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, so making changes to what you eat is advised.
Experts say there’s nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but certain foods should be limited.
The NHS says you should: “Eat a wide range of foods – including fruit, vegetables and some starchy foods like pasta, keep sugar fat and salt to a minimum, and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day – do not skip meals.”
But individual food and drink have also been proven to have blood sugar lowering qualities, and when it comes to the first meal of the day, breakfast, a certain fruit has been shown to have a positive effect on blood sugar levels.
A 2003 animal study showed fig extract can contribute to diabetes treatment by normalising blood fatty acid and vitamin E levels.
But this isn’t the only part of the fig plant proven to help blood sugar levels.
A 2016 study in rats showed ficusin, an extract from fig leaves, improves insulin sensitivity and has other antidiabetic properties.
Some people may be sceptical over eating fruit because of its sugar content, but the sugar in whole fruit does not count towards free sugars, so it is not this type of sugar we need to cut down on, explains Diabetes UK.
The charity explains: “This is different to the free sugar in drinks, chocolate, cakes and biscuits, as well as in fruit juices and honey.”
It’s the amount of carbohydrate you eat that has the biggest effect on blood sugar levels after eating, says the charity.
It continues: “A portion of fruit, such as a medium apple, generally contains about 15 to 20g carbs.
“It is better to reduce your intake of chocolate, sugary drinks, cakes and other snacks than whole fruit when trying to restrict your carb intake to help manage your blood glucose levels.”
- Type 2 diabetes: Include this vegetable in your diet
Figs could be enjoyed on top of a bowl of oatmeal, which has also been proven to have a positive impact on blood sugar levels.
Oatmeal contains a soluble fibre called beta-glucan that can help improve insulin response and possible reduce blood sugar too.
A review of research on the benefits of oatmeal for people with type 2 diabetes found oatmeal has a positive effect on a blood sugar control.
Other ways to control blood sugar levels
Alongside eating healthily, being active can help lower blood sugar levels.
The NHS explains: “Physical exercise helps lower your blood sugar levels. You should aim for 2.5 hours of activity a week.
“You can be active anywhere as long as what you’re doing gets you out of breath.
“This could be fast walking, climbing stairs and doing more strenuous housework or gardening.”
Losing weight if you’re overweight can also make it easier for the body to lower blood sugar levels.
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