Getting more exercise is one of the most important factors in managing insulin resistance. When you exercise your body improves its use of insulin, burns excess fat, lowers blood pressure and bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol, improving circulation, strength, balance and energy levels plus reducing stress.
Continued moderate exercise is known to be more beneficial than sudden bursts of activity as sometimes very intense activity can increase blood glucose levels. To see if you are a person who suffers from this type of increase, check your sugar level directly after a period of intense exercise and if necessary consult your doctor.
Moderate exercise such as fast walking, dancing, swimming, cycling or rowing should be practiced five days per week for no less than 30 minutes per session to obtain sufficient benefit in managing diabetic symptoms.
HIT (High Intensity Training) programs have been gaining credence for managing insulin resistance. On a recent BBC documentary Dr. Michael Moseley tested the claims of Professor Jamie Timmons from the University of Birmingham that high intensity exercise of very short duration (20 seconds at a time) could significantly improve his insulin sensitivity.
Moseley’s father had died of complications from diabetes and he himself was only just inside the measure of what would be regarded as acceptable insulin sensitivity. Before commencing the trial Dr. Moseley did no weekly exercise.
The program was on a normal exercise bike and was done three times a week for four weeks. It consisted of a two minute warm up of gentle cycling before going as fast as possible for 20 seconds. Two more minutes of gentle cycling was done while the respiratory system calmed down before doing a further 20 seconds flat out. Repeat one more time. The entire week’s program was 3 minutes of intensive cycling and roughly 6 minutes of gentle peddling yet incredibly at the end of a month Dr Moseley’s insulin sensitivity had improved by 24%.
A 2011 study of a longer HIT program found 35% improvement in insulin sensitivity after just two weeks. In this biking regime there was a couple of minutes’ warm up followed by 10 60-second rounds of intense peddling each followed by 60-seconds of gentle peddling recovery time, with a five minute cool down at the end. The whole program took less than 30 minutes and was performed three times a week.
It is thought that HIT works because it uses more muscles than most normal aerobic training and this encourages more areas to break down glycogen making way for fresh glucose deposits.
A Portuguese study on moderate walking exercise, which published its results in late 2013, found that the group that performed regular moderate speed walking enjoyed sufficiently lower levels of chemerin over the inactive group and had higher levels of adiponectin and lower values of oxidized low-density lipoprotein.
Weight loss and exercise are two of the big movers and shakers in alleviating the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes, but there is no single “diabetic diet”, it’s more a case of adopting a new way of eating and this can be challenging.
A healthy, balanced diet that is high in fiber, fruit and vegetables, and low in salt, sugar and fat is what is required for everybody, but even more so for diabetics. It is important to avoid processed foods as these are laden with salts and sugars. Diabetes UK also advises patients to avoid so called “diabetic foods” claiming that they offer no benefits and can be high in fats and calories while still affecting blood glucose levels.
It is important for the quantity of carbohydrates eaten each day to be closely monitored because carbohydrates have the greatest influence on blood sugar levels. For many patients it is helpful to see a qualified dietician.
Alcohol can be tricky for diabetics as it is processed by the body in a similar way to fat and has almost as many calories. As a rule of thumb, only drink occasionally when your blood-sugar level is under control.
Many patients manage to continue enjoying some of their favorite recipes by tweaking them to increase fiber content while reducing fats, sugar and salts.
The internet has a wide number of recipe resources for diabetics of which the following are a selection:
The American Diabetes Association has a good free email service of meals and recipes for diabetes patients http://www.diabetes.org/mfa-recipes/log-in/recipes-for-healthy-living.html?loc=ff-diabetesmealplans
Diabetes UK has a database of 250 recipes online http://www.diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/Recipes/
Dr Michael Moseley used the Fast diet to help prevent diabetes and control insulin resistance. http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Fast-Diet-Intermittent-Fasting/dp/1780721676