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How Can You Control Your Diabetes Through Diet And Exercise?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Rajesh Kesari 88% (31 ratings)
Diploma In Diabetology, MD - Diabetology
Endocrinologist, Delhi  •  24 years experience
How Can You Control Your Diabetes Through Diet And Exercise?

An important aspect of diabetes treatment is modification of lifestyle. Unhealthy lifestyle pattern that includes a lack of physical activity and unhealthy food habits, initiate majority of type 2 diabetes cases. The incidence of diabetes has increased in tandem with obesity essentially all over the world. Adequate researches have concluded of a strong relationship between excess weight and the risk of development of diabetes and hypertension. Lifestyle modification is integral to the protocol of diabetes management. Existing cases of diabetes can be controlled with anti-hyperglycemic medications. Along with medicines, it has been proved that regular exercise and a balanced low sugar diet can help in management of diabetes.

The benefits of a healthy diet, regular physical activity and planned weight loss in individuals already diagnosed with diabetes has been much researched with a conclusion of positive results. A dietary restriction to 1200 kcal/day on average, has been documented to decrease the fasting blood glucose of overweight patients with diabetes in a period of under a week. This control of blood glucose levels is likely attributed to be the result of a decreased hepatic output of glucose. A decrease in the blood pressure is also observed in the persons who undergo a planned weight loss.

The risk of developing hyperlipidemia and hypertension is also high in obese individuals in comparison to the non-obese people. This may further cause various micro and macrovascular complications of diabetes in such individuals. Dietary considerationsMeticulous planning of meal is necessary in people with diabetes. The balance of nutrients required for the normal functioning of the body is necessary to be mentioned, along with the reduction of consumption of refined sugars. In the daily diet, around 55 to 65% of the total calories should be obtained from carbohydrates and mono-unsaturated fats. People on doses of insulin should alter the carbohydrate intake in accordance to the insulin dosage, with advice from the nutritionist. Complete elimination of sugars from the diet is not recommended, refined sugars are eliminated. Glycemic index is an important factor in determining the consumability of a food item.

Low glycemic index diets can help in maintaining low blood sugar levels. Some level of improvement in the HbA1C count has also been observed after consuming a low glycemic index diet. Artificial sweeteners use should be limited. Certain non-nutritive sweeteners, that have no effect on the blood glucose levels, are also used. Modification of carbohydrate consumption should be done only under the physician’s recommendation. In a diabetic patient, the protein metabolism is also affected, with a negative nitrogen balance in the body in comparison to the nitrogen balance in non-diabetics. High protein diets are not advised for diabetic patients.

Consumption of trans-fatty acids is advised to be minimized to avoid the risk of heart related complications. Cholesterol consumption should be reduced. To avoid the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, management of fats consumption is necessary in diabetics. LDL cholesterol levels are to be brought down and plant sterols effectively reduce LDL. Certain micronutrients like zinc, antioxidants and chromium are added in the diet to improve diabetes control.


The risk of developing coronary artery disease and other cardiovascular problems is very high in people with diabetes. A key component of lifestyle change that can benefit the individuals in prevention or controlling diabetes is to begin with an exercise regimen. Exercise regimen should be modified according the health status and needs of the individual. Risk factors for cardiovascular diseases can be eliminated with following a proper weight loss or weight control regimen. Mild to moderate activity can help in lowering the risk of developing diabetes or pre diabetes. Reduction in the levels of HbA1C with increasing the level of physical activity and exercise has been observed. Exercise should be considered as the mainstay of the prevention protocol of diabetes. It is often difficult for the physician to inculcate the importance of physical activity and exercise in people with a long history of sedentary lifestyle and very little physical activity. But it is the most important way of management of diabetes, which further saves the patient from progression of the disease and development of diabetes related complications. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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