Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition where the insulin your pancreas makes can’t work properly, or your pancreas can’t make enough insulin. This impaired process can pose serious health risks if you have type 2 diabetes because the release of insulin helps to regulate blood sugar levels. If left untreated, unregulated blood sugar levels can lead to life-threatening health complications such as heart disease and stroke.
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Luckily, making simple dietary tweaks can help to control blood sugar levels and certain foods have been shown to be more effective than others at fuelling this process.
As a general rule, the rate at which your body breaks down carbohydrates from your food and drink and turns it into blood sugar determines how quickly blood sugar levels will rise.
Foods that slow down this process offer the best defence against rising blood sugar levels.
Foods high in viscous fibre – a type of fibre that mixes with water in the gut, for example, have been shown to reduce blood sugar spikes because they delay stomach emptying and slow down the rate of nutrient absorption into the bloodstream.
One food high in viscous fibre is shirataki noodles, a staple of Japanese cookery that has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in several studies.
The primary health benefit of eating shirataki noodles is that they are a rich source of glucomannan, a type of fibre found in the Asian konjac plant, which has been shown to lower blood sugar.
In one study, people with type 2 diabetes who took glucomannan for three weeks had a significant reduction in fructosamine, which is a marker of blood sugar levels.
In another study, people with type 2 diabetes who took a single dose of glucomannan before consuming glucose had significantly lower blood sugar. levels two hours later, compared to their blood sugar after a placebo.
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An added benefit of eating shirataki noodles is that they can help you to lose weight and weight management plays a key role in controlling blood sugar levels.
The weight loss benefits are attributed to the viscous fibre found in the noodles, which delays stomach emptying so you stay full longer and end up eating less.
Furthermore, taking glucomannan before consuming a lot of carbs appears to reduce levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin.
One review of seven studies found that people who took glucomannan for four to eight weeks lost three to 5.5 pounds.
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How does losing weight help regulate blood sugar levels?
Insulin resistance is closely associated with obesity and this means that it is more likely to build up in the blood causing blood sugar levels to soar, explains Diabetes.co.uk.
The NHS recommends aiming for at least 2.5 hours of activity a week to stave off the risk of rising blood sugar levels.
You can be active anywhere as long as what you’re doing gets you out of breath.
This could be:
- Fast walking
- Climbing stairs
- Doing more strenuous housework or gardening
What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
According to the NHS, many people have type 2 diabetes without realising because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.
- Urinating more than usual, particularly at night
- Feeling thirsty all the time
- Feeling very tired
- Losing weight without trying to
- Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
- Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- Blurred vision
You should speak to your GP if you have any of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes or you’re worried you may have a higher risk of getting it, advises the health body.
It added: “The earlier diabetes is diagnosed and treatment started, the better. Early treatment reduces your risk of other health problems.”
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