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Living with Diabetes: 3 smart hacks for smarter blood sugar control

Uncontrolled, chronic stress is directly linked to high blood sugar levels. (Representational image: Reuters)

By Dr Arbinder Singal,

The importance of a healthy lifestyle to control diabetes has been long-established. Medical studies have time and again proven how it improves health and medication’s effectiveness.

Question: Should you follow the same diet & lifestyle plan that helped your cousin or colleague to achieve your blood sugar goals? The short answer – no.

With the new age technology and high level of personal data available you should – Work smarter, not harder to manage diabetes:

There are three smart ways to keep your blood sugars in check:

1. Monitoring your Personalised Glycemic Response (PGR)

2. Don’t leave out the micronutrients

3. Tame the stress monster

1. Monitoring your Personalised Glycemic Response (PGR): What’s your Personalised Glycemic Response (PGR)? Here is an instance to help understand PGR better. Rajeev had struggled with diabetes control for five years. His doctor had put him on medications, and he was exercising well as well as eating healthy. Well, so he thought. Still, his blood sugars fluctuated quite a bit with episodes of lows (hypoglycemia) and highs. Worried about this variability in blood sugars, the doctor recommended him to use a continuous glucose monitoring device. Rajeev went a step further and enrolled in a digital therapeutic program. He started maintaining his food diary in the digital therapeutic app and the coach guided him on his personalized glycemic response (blood sugar response) to everything which he ate over the next 2 weeks. And in two weeks Rajeev understood:

· The top five foods which were pushing his blood sugars high, and this included everything made with wheat. But with rice his blood sugars didn’t go so high.

· He was surprised to see that the days he did running or high intensity training- his blood sugars remained more stable vs yoga.

· Somedays, his blood sugars fell low at 3 am causing restless sleep and daytime drowsiness.

· It helped him understand his protein intake, his micronutrients such as iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium and omega-3 intake, which were quite low.

Using this data collected, his diabetes diet and exercise plan was personalised to suit him better. Within the next 3 months, Rajeev could cut down on medications, lose weight and become fitter than ever.

This is not science fiction; but happening today. Deeply personalized and precision approach for glycemic control is a reality now.

For a person living with Diabetes it is important to understand what Personalised Glycemic Response is. Your diet, exercise, sleep, stress, medications and environmental factors – all result in a glycemic response (i.e. cause a change in blood sugar levels). Since these responses are unique to you, they are termed Personalised Glycemic Response (PGR). While in the healthy range (70-140 mg/dL), these fluctuations are normal. When out of range, they could result in short & long-term health complications.

2. Don’t leave out the micronutrients: Diabetes management of 21st century, goes beyond macronutrient intake (carbs, protein, fat) and focusses even on the micronutrients in diet. Micronutrient deficiencies can hinder essential bodily functions, including healthy production of insulin, utilisation of glucose, immunity, sleep and heart wellbeing. So, make sure that your diet has enough diabetes-specific micronutrients such as Iron, Zinc, Magnesium, Omega-3 fatty acids, Calcium and Vitamin C.

3. Tame the stress monster: Uncontrolled, chronic stress is directly linked to high blood sugar levels. Find ways to identify and deal with the stressors, while letting go of the ones you cannot control.

And if you find yourself constantly thinking about a stressor – so much so that it gets in the way of your day-to-day functioning, then seek professional help from a clinical psychologist or a counselor. It may be your gateway to better blood sugar controls. Living with diabetes is no longer a burden. It is important that you be your own advocate for healthy lifestyle and manage your blood glucose through digital intervention and the guidance of specialists through which you can live a healthy and fulfilling life.

(The author is MBBS (Gold Medalist), DNB, M.Ch (AIIMS, Gold Medalist), Co-founder & CEO, Fitterfly. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult health experts and medical professionals before starting any therapy or medication. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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