What is Basal Insulin and How does it Control Diabetes?
The human body requires insulin in order to carry out its day-to-day functions properly. Years of research have found that the correct dose of basal insulin is the answer to stabilize the levels of blood sugar and also avoid any potential complications from diabetes. Diabetes patients understand that they have to follow a strict dietary guideline in order to maintain their health. Apart from having a proper insulin management process in place, eating the right kind of food is crucial in maintaining proper blood sugar levels, not just during the day, but also during the night while you sleep.
A person on insulin therapy understands that insulin is required when you have a meal. Food and insulin have a see-saw kind of relationship. If you take in too much food and not enough insulin, you will end up having hyperglycemia. Not enough food consumption and too much insulin on the other hand will cause hypoglycemia.
Basal insulin has an important role in controlling diabetes. This is because basal insulin acts like a background insulin, stabilizing your blood sugar levels during periods when you are fasting – these include the time between each meal and when you sleep. Insulin has a big role to play in metabolizing of carbohydrates. After you have a meal, your body starts breaking down the carbohydrates from food to turn them into sugar or glucose. This then energizes your body, enabling you to perform your daily tasks, and even walk and eat. This process of breakdown increases the level of blood sugar, making your pancreas release insulin into the bloodstream.
This insulin helps the cells in your body absorb the excess glucose present in the bloodstream, while some of the glucose gets stored in your liver, released at a later stage when the body needs fuel or energy. People suffering from type 1 diabetes are unable to produce insulin. This is why they need to take injects of basal insulin for managing their blood sugar levels. The situation is different if you suffer from type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the body still produces insulin, but the pancreases are not able to produce sufficient insulin to maintain the required glucose level in the body. This is why even in type 2 diabetes; your doctor may recommend that you take basal insulin injections to maintain a healthy level of body glucose.
The benefit of basal insulin is that is absorbed more slowly in the body and the effects are longer-lasting, thus keeping the level of blood sugar stable for a longer period of time.
Genuine Diet Instructions for Basal Insulin
There are certain foods that affect the blood sugar level in the body. If you suffer from diabetes, it is, therefore, necessary that you follow certain dietary instructions for fine tuning the level of basal insulin in the body. These include:
The amount of carbohydrates you consume has the biggest impact on the level of blood sugar. This is not to say though that you start cutting out carbs completely from your diet. All it means is that you need to choose the correct type of carbohydrates to consume. People who have diabetes need to have high-fiber carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index (GI) score. The reason behind this is because these low GI foods take a longer time to get digested, providing you with a steady supply of energy during this time. If you combine these healthy carbs with other lean proteins and healthy fats, the food will get absorbed slowly from your gut, canceling out their impact on your blood sugar levels. Some carbohydrates you can take are high in fiber and have a low glycemic index include:
- Whole wheat pasta
- Peas and legumes, particularly beans
- Brown rice or converted rice
- Leafy vegetables like spinach and kale
- Non-starchy vegetables like green beans
- Oats (not the instant type)
If you are in a habit of having refined carbohydrates, you are more likely to experience a spike in your blood sugar levels soon after having them. This happens because refined carbs get digested much more quickly, particularly if you are having them without any other group of food. Therefore, avoid consuming refined carbohydrates such as:
- White rice
- White bread
- White potatoes
Dangers of Hidden Sugars and Processed Foods
The fact is that the world revolves around processed foods these days. Our day begins with boxed cereals and ends with sugary desserts. In between the occasional packaged meal is also included in our day to make life easier. However, if you have diabetes, then you need to avoid, actually eliminate altogether, processed foods from your daily diet. While having anything once in a while causes no harm, you should not be consuming processed foods on a daily basis. Many processed foods are also full of hidden sugars, which can be particularly dangerous to a person having diabetes. Try and stick to a healthy diet plan.
If you are unsure about what a food item contains, then make it a habit to read food labels as food manufacturers need to list all the ingredients on their food labels by law. If you find that sugar is listed as one of the top three or four ingredients, it is a good idea to keep it back on the shelf and look for a healthier option. Many times, food manufacturers try to confuse consumers by calling naming sugar as one of the many names it comes in. These forms of sugar include:
- High fructose corn syrup
- Malt syrup
- Agave nectar
These names do not include the actual word ‘sugar’ but they are far more detrimental to your health than actual sugar, particularly when you are a diabetic.
Include Lean Proteins and Healthy Fats
Studies conducted by the American Heart Association and many other organizations also have shown that people suffering from type 2 diabetes have a much higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. One way in which you can combat this risk is by including healthy fats and proteins in your daily diet. These foods ensure that you maintain normal levels of blood sugar for a longer period of time and also reduce the risk of having a stroke or heart attack. But limiting your intake of saturated fats and avoiding Trans fats completely, you will not only reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but you will also be drastically cut down your chances of having a stroke.
Some foods that contain high levels of fat and are equally healthy for you include:
- Dark chocolate
- Fatty fish
- Chia seeds
Some examples of foods containing healthy proteins include:
- Fish like tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel
- Poultry (skinless)
- Beans and other legumes
Other factors that can contribute to having a healthier meal include grilling, boiling, or stir-frying your meat. Then you can also try changing your oil to opt for a healthier option like olive oil.
Walnuts, almonds, and other nuts are a good inclusion to your daily diet as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to boost heart health.
If you manage to keep your diet healthy, then half of your worry of managing your diabetes gets taken care of. Create a food plan that is not only healthy, but includes items you like to have, as otherwise, it becomes difficult to stick to a certain plan. Following certain dietary instructions will go a long way in managing your blood sugar levels.
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