How to manage diabetes in older people?
Managing diabetes in older people may seem a challenge considering factors such as depression, loss of a partner, boredom, financial concerns, cognitive challenges, carefree attitude and so on. These factors may lead to the inability in following a diet essential for blood sugar control, which is imperative in case of diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to complications like increased risk for infections, accelerated muscle loss, kidney failure, increased risk of heart disease, vision loss, nerve damage and limb amputation.
The main aspects of management of diabetes in older people are:
• Education and Awareness
• Lifestyle factors
Education and awareness
Diabetics should be educated on the nature of the condition they have and the development of secondary long-term complications of diabetes, if blood glucose is not kept under control. Adequate basic information enables the diabetics to comprehend and improve their psychological acceptance of the condition. It would be helpful to inform them about the symptoms of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels) as well. These include sweating, fatigue, dizziness, paleness and blurred vision. They should also regularly have their blood work checked along with physical examinations with the doctor. Education of the patient is an integral component in the management of diabetes.
The best way to have an elderly diabetic to adopt a diet appropriate for blood sugar control is to tap into their intrinsic factors to live healthy. For example - grandparents usually enjoy spending time and taking caring of their grandchildren. This can be a reason for them to feel more energetic by indulging into healthy foods and controlling their blood sugar levels.
Diabetes is characterized by excess glucose in the blood and urine due to inadequate production, secretion and utilization of insulin, hence it is important to be on a diet essential for blood sugar control – the best food for diabetes control.
Your ideal plate to balance blood sugar levels:
• ½ plate must include high fibre foods such as green salads, vegetables and sprouted pulses
• ¼ plate must include protein such as eggs, chicken and pulses
• ¼ plate must include complex carbohydrates
• Food must be cooked in healthy oils
The best foods for diabetes control include:
Eat a diet lower in carbohydrates while monitoring portion control, choose low glycaemic carbohydrates which are high in fibre, most importantly avoid over consumption of good carbohydrates. Diabetics can consume approximately 120 gms carbs a day well distributed throughout the day. Good sources include whole wheat, dalia, millets, rajgira, and red rice poha to name a few.
Adequate protein is a must to control blood sugar levels; it is essential for growth and tissue repair. Diabetics can consume palm size protein at least three times a day. The requirement increases depending on activity and stress levels. Protein sources are, milk and milk products like paneer, eggs, chicken, fish, pulses and beans such as rajma, chhole, chawli, kala chana, chana dal or besan, moong and matki along with raw nuts and seeds.
Choose the right quality of fats like olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, fatty fish, raw nuts and seeds rich in omega 3 fatty acids. High quality fats in moderation can help to lower inflammation in the body, help to make right quality hormones and help in lowering blood sugar levels.
Adequate fibre from fruits such as apple, pear, orange, sweetlime, guava and papaya and vegetables like green leafy vegetables, spinach, fenugreek, lady finger, brinjal, bottle gourd, bitter gourd, French beans to name a few. Whole grains and pulses are also a source of fibre – amongst the best foods diabetes control.
e. Fermented foods
Eat fermented vegetables, such as fermented cabbage, cauliflower and raddish. These are rich in beneficial bacteria that help to manage blood sugar levels. It is equally important to feed these bacteria with whole grains, pulses and high fiber fruits and vegetables.
Magnesium-rich foods help to control blood sugar levels These include almonds, cashews, black beans dark green leafy vegetables, especially spinach, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
g. Insulin sensitisers
Methi or fenugreek seeds are rich in fibre. These also contain 4-hydroxyleucine- an, unusual amino acid, known to reduce blood glucose and blood lipid levels. These can be taken as such after overnight soaking in water in the morning. Start experimenting with 1-2 teaspoons. Other insulin sensitisers like cinnamon water and apple cider vinegar can be consumed regularly to balance blood sugar levels.
The foods that diabetics should not include:
• Crowd out refined carbs such as maida. These lead to high sugar levels and insulin spike. Limit the consumption of high starchy carbohydrates.
• Limit the consumption of natural sugars such as jaggery and honey.
• Avoid or limit alcohol and aerated drinks as they are a source of empty calories.
• Avoid packaged foods, they are high on sugar and trans-fats resulting in blood sugar spikes and inflammation in the body.
• Limit artificial sweeteners, these can alter the gut bacteria and create blood sugar imbalances.
• Sleep -7 to 8 hours is imperative for good sleep. Poor and lack of sleep can lead to blood sugar imbalances.
• Stress – It leads to high cortisol and high blood sugar leading to unwanted fat percentage. Hence, it is essential to indulge in stress management techniques such as meditation and yoga
• Exercise - regular exercise helps in efficient use of insulin, thus preventing blood sugar imbalances and keep the body fat percentage in check.
These simple changes can help diabetic seniors lead a long and healthy life. Help them incorporate these into their lifestyle and see the change in the quality of life.
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