Diabetes: Must-have foods to manage your blood sugar in summer
Managing blood sugar levels can be tricky in summer but with the right nutrition, people with diabetes can stay healthy and complication-free.
What we eat can have a lasting impact on our overall health. Munching food mindlessly can raise risk of certain diseases while planning diet mindfully can even help reversing them. Diabetes is one such disease that needs to be managed well in order to prevent its many complications. Summer time can especially be tough for those fighting the disease as some medications can raise risk of dehydration. Not having enough fluids in your system means your blood sugar levels can spike putting you at risk of nerve damage, heart attack, kidney problem and a host of other health issues. Health experts say 1.5-2 litres of water can greatly benefit people with diabetes, while drinking buttermilk, coconut water, fresh lime water and having hydrating foods like watermelon, cucumber, yoghurt, curd etc can help you fight the side-effects of summer heat and keep you healthy. (Also read: New Covid variant Arcturus or XBB.1.16: What people with chronic diseases should do amid rise in cases)
HOW EXTREME SUMMER HEAT CAN IMPACT PEOPLE WITH DIABETES
People with diabetes are more at risk of medical emergencies as excess heat can play havoc with blood glucose levels and also have an impact on how body metabolises insulin.
"The summer season, accompanied by scorching heat, can have an adverse effect on the health of a person with diabetes. It can impact their sugar levels, skin and overall health. It can even lead to medical emergencies such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Some regular diabetes medicines like diuretics can also leave you feeling dehydrated. Therefore, a person with diabetes requires extra care during the summer season," says Dr Navneet Agrawal, Chief Clinical Officer of BeatO.
"Extreme heat is dangerous for patient with diabetes because heat affect blood glucose levels. High heat leads to excessive sweating which may lead to a rise in blood glucose levels which can further lead to increased urination adding to existing dehydration. Diabetes complications may damage blood vessels and nerves which can affect your sweat glands leading to body not being able to cool effectively. Not drinking enough liquid also raises glucose levels and high blood glucose. High temperature also changes how body metabolises insulin and so patients on insulin need to adjust dosing and meals accordingly," says Dr Anurag Aggarwal, Consultant-Internal Medicine, Fortis Escorts Hospital Faridabad.
"Diabetics have to be careful because high heat can negatively affect sugar levels. High environmental temperature causes excessive sweating and coupled with decreased water intake, a person can become dehydrated which causes blood to become concentrated and sugars to increase. If heat exposure continues, body releases stress hormones such as cortisol and vasopressin which in turn increase the body’s inherent glucose production causing the sugar levels to spike. Another factor that is to be kept in mind that medicines and insulin if not stored properly can lose their potency due to high heat which in turn will impact sugar levels," says Dr Tushar Tayal – Consultant, Internal Medicine, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram.
HOW DIET CAN HELP DIABETICS MANAGE THEIR BLOOD SUGAR
While summer heat is harsh, fruits and vegetables that are available this season are extremely hydrating. Watermelon, spinach, cucumber, celery and others must be included in diet to maintain the required level of hydration.
"Your diet plays an important role in diabetes management; therefore, you must be extra careful about what you consume. Summer fruits are a good option for people with diabetes. You can include watermelon, tomatoes, bell peppers, spinach, cucumber, celery, etc., in your diabetes diet. Apart from being diabetes-friendly, they are also rich in magnesium, potassium, calcium, Vitamin K, Vitamin A and essential antioxidants," says Dr Navneet Agarwal.
HEALTHY HABITS FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES TO MANAGE BLOOD SUGAR DURING SUMMER
Start your day with fibre-rich foods
Dr Agarwal says starting your day with a fibre-rich breakfast can help prevent sugar spikes.
"You should have a breakfast which is rich in fibre. It will allow a slow release of sugar into your bloodstream, preventing a spike in your glucose levels. You should also pick foods with a low glycaemic index, such as non-starchy fruits and vegetables, legumes, dairy products, whole grains, etc. You should avoid consuming fried and sugary foods," says Dr Agarwal.
Lemonade, vegetable juices, coconut water
"Water has zero calories and is the preferred drink for diabetics but should also include electrolytes if such patients have more than usual exposure to sun. Lemonade without sugar is also advisable. While fruit juices may contain natural sugar, vegetables juices are best to be used by diabetic patients. Coconut water is best but avoid artificial sugary drinks and juices," says Dr Anurag Aggarwal.
Dr Tushar Tayal adds more foods to this list:
This cooling drink made by curdling milk can cool down your body and also keep your digestive health strong. It has the perfect mix of nutrients that will help keep the energy levels high in summers.
Two helpings of seasonal fruits daily such as watermelon, papaya, mangoes and citrus fruits can help keep the hydration levels high.
Curd and yoghurt
Having these cooling foods will not only help improve appetite but also blood sugar levels in check.
Add cucumber, salad leaves and tomatoes to your diet to maintain the right level of fibre.
DOs AND DON'Ts TO REMEMBER
Dr Tayal says it's important to take the following precautions during summer for diabetics
* Drink at least 1.5-2 litres of water or fluids daily.
* Monitor your glucose levels regularly.
* Reduce alcohol intake as it can cause dehydration and increase blood sugars.
* Avoid too many cups of tea and coffee since they increase water loss from body.
* Reduce your intake of added sugars and processed foods.
* Exercise during cooler, less humid times of the day.