Q: My fasting blood sugar is above 110 – should I take Metformin? Am I diabetic?
Please do not jump to any conclusion by just looking at your fasting sugar level. It will fluctuate a lot. One of the most reliable blood tests to monitor your sugar level and understand if your insulin is working well is glycosylated haemoglobin or HbA1c. It checks the level of sugar attached to the haemoglobin molecules. As haemoglobin is recycled every three months, this test gives you an average sugar level for the last three months. The glucose on your haemoglobin is directly proportional to the blood sugar.
An HbA1c of 5.7-7% shows that your blood sugars have been consistently above the optimal range. At this stage, changing food habits will reverse the condition and get your HbA1c lower. If you don’t do anything about it at this reversible stage, you would need to get on hypoglycemic drugs to get your sugars in control. It take no more than 6 weeks to reverse it if your HBA1C is in this range.
Carbohydrates influence the blood sugars directly. The type and amount of carbohydrate matters a lot. The active carbs have more simple sugars which get absorbed in the blood quickly and obviously increases the blood sugars. These are grains like wheat, rice, oats, quinoa, millets, maize; roots like potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam, tapioca; fruits like banana, grapes, watermelon, mango, and custard apple. The amounts of active carbs should be restricted to avoid sugar spikes.
On the flip side, the inactive carbs have a more stable effect on blood sugars. These carbs have more fibre which is not absorbable, therefore the blood sugars don’t increase much. The inactive carbs are vegetables like spinach, fenugreek, okra, gourds, amaranth leaves, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, cluster beans, green peas, Brussels, asparagus, bell peppers, and so on. Some of the fruits that have inactive carbs are apples, oranges, sweet lime, plums, pear, pomegranate and berries. However, when you have these as a juice, the fibre is lost and only the absorbable sugars are left in the juice making it active carb.
Fats are great to maintain normal blood sugar. Including healthy fats like coconut oil, grass-fed ghee, grass-fed butter, olives, avocados, dry coconut chunks can steadily increase blood sugars when had along with meals.
Omega 3 fats - found in salmon, mackerel, tuna, flaxseeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds - help the body cells to be more sensitive to insulin, improving the efficiency of using sugar for energy. It’s impractical to get the required amounts of omega 3 from food. We need 2000mg of omega 3 everyday which can be easily availed from a good quality supplement.
Rashi Chowdhary is a nutritionist, diabetes educator and creator of The Protein Bake Shop. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.