The more often your blood sugar level goes high the more insulin you make to dump the excess blood sugar into storage as fat. If you are doing this day in, day out the body becomes insensitive to insulin so you get more blood sugar spikes and then troughs as the excess is dumped in the liver and turned into fat, stored around your middle.
The single best test for determining your diabetes risk is called glycosylated haemoglobin (or HBA1c in a medical check up). It measures what percentage of your blood cells have become sugar damaged. This is how sugar damages, for example the kidneys and the arteries, producing ‘advanced glycation end-products’ or AGEs for short. Sugar ages you. If you score above 7% you are going to get diabetes if you haven’t been diagnosed already, if you score above 6 you are in the pipeline. Ideally, you want to be below 5.5.
Eating a low GL diet is both the best way to control and reverse ‘type 2’ diabetes, lose weight and lower glycosylated haemoglobin. It also helps reduce insulin need in type-1 diabetes. The GL of your diet is also the best predictor of diabetes risk – better than just your sugar and carb intake.
Here’s ten simple ways to lower the GL of your diet
1. COMBINE PROTEIN WITH CARBS
Protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates. So when you eat fruit, potatoes, rice, bread or pasta also have something with protein in it – nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, fish, eggs or meat. For example, have scrambled eggs, instead of jam, on toast; some almonds with an apple; fish, beans or lentils with rice; meat with potatoes. Just doing this can halve the GL of your meal. Aim for roughly equal proportions.
2. GET YOUR OATS
Oats, or specifically oat fibre or bran, contains a powerful anti-diabetes nutrient called beta-glucans. Diabetic patients given oatmeal or oat-bran rich foods experience much lower rises in blood sugar. In fact, 10 per cent of your diet as beta-glucans can halve the blood sugar peak of a meal. Practically, that means eating half oat flakes, cold or hot as porridge, with a low-GL fruit such as berries, pears or apples and snacking on rough oat cakes (which has the most beta-glucans). With over 1,000 studies on beta-glucans, the evidence really is overwhelming. If you eat cold oatflakes like you would cornflakes, or make porridge then eat it cold, you vastly increase the oat fibre effect.
3. A SPOONFUL OF CINNAMON
Cinnamon also helps. The issue is you need a teaspoon a day, or at least half a teaspoon, for a measurable effect on your blood sugar. The active ingredient in cinnamon is called MCHP. Extracts of cinnamon that concentrate MCHP, called Cinnulin®, taken together with chromium works best. Look for supplements that contain both chromium and Cinnulin, as well as adding cinnamon into cereal, smoothies, soups and hot drinks.
4. SUPPLEMENT CHROMIUM
Supplementing the essential mineral chromium is a no brainer if you’ve got diabetes, and not a bad idea if you haven’t. Chromium is required for the insulin receptor to work and helps to reverse insulin resistance. It is cheap and safe. Diabetics need 600mcg a day. Most supplements provide 200mcg. A review of over 40 randomised controlled studies in the journal Diabetes Care concludes that “Among participants with type 2 diabetes, chromium supplementation improved glycosylatedhaemoglobin levels and fasting glucose. Chromium supplementation significantly improved glycemia among patients with diabetes.
5. CHOOSE RYE, BARLEY AND KAMUT INSTEAD OF WHEAT
Wholegrains have a lower GL than the refined white stuff. Wholegrain rye is best, especially sourdough rye bread and the slow-cooked German-style breads called pumpernickel, sonnenbrot or volkenbrot, all readily available in supermarkets. Whole pearl barley boils like rice and has a very low GL and a delicious nutty taste and chewy texture for soups and ‘risottos’. There is an ancient form of wheat called Kamut® khorosan. In studies it spectacularly improves insulin resistance and lowers blood sugar. It also tastes delicious. Asda has a pre-cooked whole Kamut grain and my favourite is Sgambarro’s Kamut whole wheat pasta. You can also buy kamut flour for baking your own bread.
6. SUPPLEMENT SUPER-FIBRES
Another way to lower the glycemic load of a meal, and thus stabilise blood sugar, is to consume a super-soluble fibre called glucomannan. Having 3-5grams (a teaspoon or three capsules) before a meal helps even out blood sugar response. But you must have it with a large glass of water before a meal because it absorbs the water, thus bulking up what’s in your stomach and making you feel full. Together with a calorie controlled diet supplementing glucomannan fibre helps you lose weight. It is available as PGX and Carboslow online and in health food shops.
7. GO NUTS, SEEDS, BEANS AND LENTILS
Sprinkling chia seeds on your cereal, or eating almonds with an apple all help to lower the GL of a meal or snack. Pulses, the food group that includes beans, lentils and chickpeas, is a staple in countries with low diabetes incidence, but we just don’t eat enough of these highly nutritious foods. Try the seed-like quinoa instead of rice. It was the staple grain of the Incas. It takes 14 minutes to boil, is very high in protein and low GL and absorbs the flavour of sauces.
Pulses are all ......
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