Controlling Blood Glucose Levels Through Diet and Exercise

Case study ( 3666 views as of February 25, 2017 )

Debbie is a 64-year-old grandmother and has been pre-diabetic for almost 10 years. Her fasting blood sugars range from 5.6 - 6.8 and her post-meal blood sugars remain in the healthy range. Debbie’s haemoglobin A1C is stable at 6%. Her blood pressure is in the normal-to-low range and her cholesterol levels are slightly high. She takes no medication at this time and her goal is to always manage her health through diet and exercise alone.

At her recent check-up with her family doctor Debbie was informed that although her weight had not increased her waist circumference had. This signifies a greater health risk, as it tends to suggest an accumulation of intra-abdominal visceral fat. She too has noticed that although her weight remains stable there has been an upwards shift of fat that seems to be accumulating between the belly button and rib area, making her very uncomfortable.

Debbie has tried numerous diets over the years to keep her weight as low as possible and has incorporated many tips provided by a dietitian that she saw in the past. She walks a few times a week and also takes at least two Zumba classes.

Debbie feels she has exhausted all options for getting rid of the abdominal fat from a diet perspective. She is tired of thinking about good foods vs. bad foods and what she should do every time she goes to eat something.

Debbie's family doctor has suggested she re-visit the idea of a dietitian consultation for some metabolism-boosting suggestions. The physician has also suggested an appointment with a personal trainer to help strengthen and build muscle, which could further boost metabolism and promote fat loss. Doing yoga or pilates may also help increase her metabolism and contribute to overall strength and fitness.

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Conversation based on: Controlling Blood Glucose Levels Through Diet and Exercise

Controlling Blood Glucose Levels Through Diet and Exercise

  • Women seem more likely to gain weight through the middle as they get older. Is this due to hormonal changes ?
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    • I think hormonal changes post-menopause would partly be responsible, along with a general decrease in physical activity that can be associated with abdominal weight gain. The natural decrease in metabolism that older adults experience would also be a contributing factor.
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    • That's interesting. I wonder if any studies have been done to determine why women gain weight after menopause, why they should eat fewer calories when nothing else has changed besides hormone levels.
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    • I believe there is a correlation between menopause and caloric needs in women. I heard once that women needed 500 fewer calories once they were menopausal I'd be curious to hear a dietitian or physician weigh in on this...
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  • @KMichael: Diet, exercise and lifestyle can help to control pre-diabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes.
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  • If a person is pre-diabetic, are they ever able to improve their health to the point where they are no longer at risk of diabetes ?
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    • It can happen. Lifestyle efforts are so crucial in the pre-diabetic stage to try and improve the health measurements which are putting you in the pre-diabetic state. Exercise and dietary measures can improve blood pressure, blood sugars, cholesterol, waist size - all which contribute to a person's risk for diabetes.
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  • Thank you Dr. Goldenberg. The change in season to spring is a great time to boost your metabolism with exercise. Many people underestimate the value of simply walking, daily. Try a step counter or wrist band to monitor your goals and improve blood glucose levels.
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    • If you have been doing the same exercises all the time your body can become used to them and they aren't as effective. Debbie should try switching out her Zumba class for something else. Weight training for women is very popular right now
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  • I always hear mixed things about coconut oil too. I would love to know what you find out.
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    • I recently learned that they make coconut oil caplets. They are supposed to offer benefits similar to omega 3.
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    • I think cooking with coconut oil is supposed to be healthier than regular oil because it's a nut derived fat. But it's also high in calories
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  • @Joy There are many, many foods that can help boost your metabolism. Cardiovascular and weight bearing exercise is extremely helpful as well.
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    • What types of foods do you recommend to start with ?
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    • Lisa is right in suggesting exercise to help with boosting your metabolism. Getting your system working more efficiently through exercise and watching your food intake crucial to controlling blood glucose levels and seeing a qualified nutritionist like Lisa is a great place to start.
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  • What can I do to boost my metabolism? Are there foods I should be eating? Exercises I should be doing?
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  • Does cooking with coconut oil help with this ? It was recently suggested by a friend and I was wondering what the benefits are ? I have a medical appointment later this month and will ask, however just curious.
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  • @T.Brown, that is a great idea (walking meetings). So are sit/stand desks where you can alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.
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    • A sit / stand desk is one that can be raised or lowered so that you may sit at a standard office chair or stand while working
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    • What is a sit/stand desk?
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    • @lisa, I agree! What a great way to incorporate exercise into ones working day. Other health professionals should take this on too. Nutritionists could do walking follow up sessions!
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  • I recently read about the idea of "walking meetings" for people who are at a desk job all day. It's hard to get much exercise throughout the day, but if you walked and talked with colleagues that would definitely help.
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    • That is a great idea. And great ideas sometimes come while walking too!
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    • I have never heard of these, but what a fantastic idea!
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    • My colleagues frequently do "walk and talks". Although they usually end up with a cookie at the end of the meeting
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  • Shirley G, the research hasn't shown specific recommendations around what movement is best, or how much movement is best. It really depends on each individual and their profile. A practitioner who works in this area, such as a nutritionist or fitness trainer would be able to make recommendations based on one's individual profile.
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    • Thank you Lisa
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  • More research is showing the benefits of regular movement, thus not just doing a certain amount of weight bearing exercise and/or fitness classes each week, but getting up and moving/walking every hour or so throughout the day. This is certainly something to consider when looking at exercise. A holistic nutritionist can help with meal planning and switching/swapping/substituting foods/recipes that contain unhealthy sweeteners with those that are better with respect to controlling blood glucose levels.
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    • @SarahWare - thank you for clearing up the hype on agave as a sweetener. I'd like to learn more about sweeteners in general - they're so tempting to use when trying to lose weight, but I keep hearing things about how just having regular sugar might be better. Can you clarify?
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    • I will try to fit in amounts of exercise all through the day rather then "get it over with" in the early morning.
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    • I definitely agree that regular movement is just as beneficial as a 1 hour cardio bout. Obviously this is dependent on the intensity, but walking around your office for 5mins every hour would definitely make a difference. There is also plenty of research to support high intensity interval training as a means to improve cardiovascular health and improve metabolism. This can be as little as 5-10mins of 20 - 40s intervals increasing the heart rate to 70-90%
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    • @K.Michael, agave syrup is technically a more natural choice as a sweetener but its composition is not far from high fructose corn syrup. Nutritionists and dietitians encourage people to avoid that as much as possible.
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    • We've recently started using Agave as a sweetener.
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    • Is there a certain amount a steps a person should be taking ? Should it be "focused" walking ie 30 mins per day or can it be a few steps here and there based on movement throughout the day ?
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  • @Carol, how are you making out with limiting your carbohydrates? I would suggest consulting with a dietitian for sure in order to get a better understanding of what carbohydrates your body does need and how they impact your blood sugar levels.
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  • I have just found out that my blood sugar is 6.2 and my doctor tells me that I have to stop eating carbohydrates, starchy foods and cookies.....what does this mean ?? I think I need help with a diet, questions like, can I eat Quinoa to replace the starchy potatoes ?
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    • I agree with those that have suggested consulting a dietitian. The difference between "good carbs and bad carbs" is important to understand, along with what foods you should eat along with the right carbs. I don't think that a "no carb" approach is a good idea, without the advice of a professional, especially when you're dealing with high blood sugar levels.
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    • That is tricky since there are carbohydrates in so many foods. I would definitely schedule a follow up with a professional.
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    • @joy is right, an appointment with a dietitian or nutritionist can help you understand what your doctor means by reducing your carbohydrate intake. You can control your blood glucose levels and still eat carbohydrates.
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    • I think an appointment with a dietician would be beneficial.
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    • Carol I'd suggest looking up the glycemic value of foods. My understanding is that certain starchy foods cause spikes in blood sugar. Others cause a slower release and those are ok. My understanding is that quinoa would be a better choice than potatoes.
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    • It's very frustrating to be in a position where you have to watch and think about every thing you put in your mouth.
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