Last updated on October 10th, 2023
When you have diabetes, nutrition and physical activity play an important role in helping you live a healthy life. Diabetes type-1 is less common, and it develops when a person’s body does not produce insulin at all. Diabetes type-1 patients mainly rely on insulin therapy to manage their blood sugar levels. It is a lesser-known fact that diet and exercise can reverse diabetes type-1, like diabetes type-2 and gestational diabetes. Read this blog to know about ways to reverse type 1 diabetes with diet and exercise.
Diet Changes to Improve Your Blood Sugar Levels
The kind of food you eat is responsible for determining your health to a lot extent. If you eat healthy foods, your body will function smoothly. It will maintain your metabolism, body weight, and blood sugar levels in a healthy range. Often people with diabetes think that diabetes means that they have to go without foods they enjoy. The good part is that despite diabetes, you can still have your favourite food but less often and in small portions.
Also Read: Is Type 2 Diabetes Curable?
The best diet for people with diabetes type-1
People with diabetes type-1 can manage their diabetes with diet changes. Eating lots of carbohydrates increases their blood sugar levels, whereas not eating carbohydrates can make you feel low energetic all the time. Therefore, diabetes type-1 patients have to switch to a balanced diet that helps manage their diabetes. One of the most recommended diets for diabetes type-1 patients is a high fibre and low-calorie diet. This type of diet provides them sufficient amount of carbohydrates that their body can use effectively.
High Fibre and Low-calorie Diet to Manage Diabetes Type-1
As the name suggests, this diet is rich in fibre and contains low-calorie food items. High-fibre foods include non-starchy vegetables, fruits, and some seeds. Consult with your dietician to prepare the best diet chart for you. Some high fibre foods are:
- Broccoli: This cruciferous vegetable is tasty and packed with lots of nutrients. It contains a rich amount of fibre and low-calorie content. It boasts more protein than any other vegetable. You can enjoy it cooked or raw to get the greatest health benefit.
- Purple cabbage: It has a taste similar to green cabbage but has a variety of plant compounds that give many health benefits. Purple cabbage is also rich in Vitamin C and K. It helps improve heart and bone health, protects against cancer, and reduces inflammation.
- Avocado: The unique buttery texture of avocado makes it a delicious fruit. You can also consume it as a vegetable and add it to various dishes. Avocado contains a rich amount of monounsaturated fats, fiber, Vitamin K and C, folate, and potassium. Monounsaturated fats are healthy fats.
- Flax seeds: Small oil seeds contain rich fibre, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. Taking one teaspoon of flax seeds powder helps weight loss and reduces the risk of chronic diseases. People with diabetes type-1 should incorporate flax seeds into their meals as well. It promotes better digestion and reduces the risk of heart problems and kidney damage.
- Chia Seeds: Many studies suggest that Chia seeds help improve blood sugar levels, and you feel fuller for a longer time. Chia Seeds are the best keto-friendly sources of fibre. In addition to being high in fibre, chia seeds contain a rich amount of protein and several vitamins and minerals. It helps improve insulin resistance, regulates insulin, and promotes healthy weight loss.
Broccoli, purple cabbage, avocado, flax seeds, and chia seeds are foods with high fiber and low calories. Adding these foods helps improve insulin resistance and manages blood sugar levels. Check out online there are many other foods that have high fibre and low calories to reverse diabetes type-1.
Diet Tips for People With Diabetes Type 1
Here are some diet tips for people with diabetes type-1 to manage their blood sugar levels:
- Drink more water. Less water in the body means higher blood sugar concentrations. Thus, people with diabetes type-1 should drink adequate water in a day. Water also helps flush out excessive blood glucose through urine which helps lower blood sugar levels.
- Avoid or limit foods with added sugar, juice drinks, processed foods, refined grains, alcoholic beverages, sugary breakfast, and fried foods. These foods contain more calories, thus, increasing the carb intake and leading to a rise in blood sugar levels.
- Check out the glycemic index of the food. Some foods have low-calorie content but have a high glycemic index. Such foods can raise blood sugar levels. Therefore, people with diabetes type-1 should check out the glycemic index. Foods with a low glycemic index are best for diabetes type-1 to prevent blood sugar spikes.
- Do not skip meals. Skipping meals, especially breakfast, increases blood sugar levels. When you skip meals, your body does not get the required carbohydrates. Hence it starts releasing the glucose stored in the liver for energy to the body. As a result, blood sugar levels increase.
Diet tips from the professional dietician help manage the blood sugar levels more effectively. A dietician will help you out with what to eat and avoid. Following the tips from experts for a long time can help reverse diabetes type-1.
Also Read: Best Diabetic Diet Chart
Exercising With Diabetes Type-1
Staying active helps reverse diabetes type-1 and the chances of developing related complications. Regular exercises help improve quality of life. It also manages your weight, improves mood, and promotes better sleep. Many people with diabetes type-1 often hesitate to exercise. It is because strenuous physical activities may lower blood sugar levels. Well, proper exercising can avoid low blood sugar levels. People with diabetes type-1 can help the personal trainer or coach to learn the best exercises for reversing diabetes type-1.
Suggestions before you start with exercises
Here are some suggestions for people with diabetes type-1 before they start with exercises:
- Talk to your doctor before exercising. A doctor can suggest the best exercise program to support your diabetes type-1 management.
- Set a realistic goal for exercising. If you haven’t exercised much in the past years, do not exercise more in less time. You also cannot start all of a sudden with jumping or running. You can start walking. Set your goal to first walk for 15 minutes, then increase your time. Later you can jump or run for more hours.
- When you start gradually with low-intensity workouts, your body gets time to build up steadily.
- Don’t do exercises that give much strain or injury to your legs. People with diabetes often do not feel the pain or soreness in their feet, leading to infection. Severe infection may require amputation.
People with diabetes type-1 should always consult their doctors before starting with exercises. Set realistic and achievable goals so that their health does not hamper when they exercise. Gradually build up your exercise routine to ensure your body is consistent with the exercises.
Also Read: Exercises For Diabetes
Guidelines for Exercising
Moderate to high-intensity exercise for at least 150 minutes a week can help people with diabetes type-1 manage diabetes. Experts say that no matter what type of diabetes you have, exercises play an important role in reversing insulin resistance and diabetes both. The basic guidelines for managing diabetes through exercises are:
- Monitoring blood sugar levels before, during, and after exercise
- Insulin adjustments
- Eating enough carbs to get energy for exercises
- Check out the exercises suitable for your body
- Consult your doctor in case of any health problem due to exercise
Not all the exercises are suitable for the people with diabetes type-1. Therefore, follow the guidelines to ensure that you do not face the side effects of exercising while you have high blood sugar levels.
Types of Exercises that You Can do With Diabetes Type-1
Some workout ideas for people with diabetes type-1 are:
- Resistance activities: Resistance activities include bodyweight exercises, weight lifting, muscle-strengthening workouts, and resistance band exercises. These exercises improve muscle endurance and insulin sensitivity in your body. It ultimately helps manage blood sugar levels.
- High-intensity interval exercises (HIIT): These exercises include high-intensity exercises for a short time with recovery time. During the workout, the body burns calories from blood glucose for energy. When you take a break between the workouts, your body recovers and pace up with a loss of energy to maintain glucose levels in the body.
- Running: Walking is mandatory for people with diabetes to manage their blood sugar levels. But, if you enjoy running, it can be the best exercise for managing blood sugar levels. Running for a short distance gives you the same benefits to the body as walking for a long duration. If you have a short time for exercise, then run.
- Cycling: Cycling is a fun activity. You can go for outdoor cycling or enjoy pedaling on your stationary bikes. Cycling helps improve insulin resistance, burns many calories, and improves your body’s flexibility. Ensure that if you have a diabetes-related foot injury or soreness in the feet, avoid cycling. Another reason why cycling is best for people with diabetes type-1 is that it gives the option to increase or decrease workout intensity.
- Swimming: It is not only a fun activity but a kind of aerobic exercise. Swimming increases your heart rate without putting pressure on your joints. It is one of the best exercises for diabetic peripheral neuropathy and improves physical activity while reducing the risk of injuries.
- Mixed exercises: A mix of exercises also does well for your body in managing blood sugar levels. If you are doing the low-intensity workout for a longer duration, your blood sugar levels will drop. However, anaerobic exercises, including high-intensity exercises for a shorter duration, increase blood sugar levels. Therefore, consult a personal trainer to know the best exercises for you. Resistance activities before aerobic exercises may keep your blood sugar levels steadier.
Different types of exercises have different impacts on your blood sugar levels. Aerobic exercises, anaerobic exercises, and a mix of both are helpful for people with diabetes type-1 to manage and reverse blood sugar levels.
Diet and exercises are the most crucial factors that determine your health. If you take a healthy diet and exercise regularly, your body restores the body functions. Your body weight, blood pressure levels, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels remain at healthy levels. It avoids the development of health complications. People with diabetes type-1 should take proper diet and exercise regularly to maintain their blood sugar levels. Being consistent with their diet and exercise routine helps reverse diabetes and prevent complications.
Will I need medications in addition to insulin for managing diabetes type-1?
Although, most diabetes type-1 cases are managed through insulin therapy combined with exercise and diet. Together they help regulate blood sugar levels. However, some patients may need additional medications. If the patient has high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure, your doctor will prescribe additional medications to manage diabetes.
How do exercises help manage diabetes?
In general, exercises help promote overall health. It helps restore the body’s functions, manages obesity, and improves your energy levels. Exercises help manage diabetes type-1 along with following healthy diet habits. However, people with diabetes type-1 should always consult their doctor about the guidelines for exercising.
Should I stop taking insulin shots if I eliminate high-carb food and manage my diet?
People with diabetes type-1 need to take insulin injections even if they eliminate carbohydrates and follow a strict diabetes diet. The bodies of people with diabetes type-1 do not prevent insulin; hence they need to take insulin injections to regulate blood sugar levels. However, you can check with your doctor about the dose adjustments required if you change diet and exercise regularly.
Will my children risk developing diabetes if I am a diabetes type-1 patient?
Diabetes is a genetic disorder, but the risk that your children will develop diabetes type-1 is low. There are only 3%-6% of children with diabetes type-1. The risk of developing diabetes type-1 varies with gender, age, and other factors to the parents with diabetes.
Do I need to monitor my blood sugar levels even I am feeling fine?
There is no surety that your blood sugar levels are normal if you feel fine. Many times people with diabetes live healthy without knowing that they have diabetes. It can cause more serious health complications like heart attack, kidney damage, or nerves damage. Therefore, you must keep a check on your blood sugar levels.
Do I need to take medicines or insulin injections for the rest of my life?
If you are diagnosed with diabetes type-1, your body will not produce enough insulin to process glucose in the body. Most people with diabetes type-1 need insulin injections at least four times a day to regulate blood sugar levels in their bodies. Insulin pumps and subcutaneous insulin infusions are the best alternatives to insulin injection.
Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal
The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.