We all know that healthy habits are crucial to living a healthy and fulfilled life. But, what you might not know is that some of these ‘healthy habits’ can lead to unhealthy problems like Type-2 diabetes. They could unknowingly promote hidden sugar consumption or blood sugar imbalances. So be aware of what you eat and try some alternatives instead.
Unlike Type-1 diabetes which is developed in childhood, Type-2 diabetes can occur at any point in your adult life. It is characterized by high blood sugar, insulin resistance and a lack of insulin as a result.
It is caused when a person’s body starts to resist the hormone insulin which is created in the pancreas. The pancreas attempts to make more insulin, as a result, to get glucose into the cells, but this causes the sugar to build up instead.
This can result from numerous things like high blood pressure, heart disease, high triglycerides, genetics, age, and obesity. Obesity is the most common reason for development. Symptoms typically come on slowly but usually show through increased thirst, frequent urination, and unexplained sudden weight loss.
4 Common Mistakes While Managing Type 2 Diabetes
In this section, we summarize 4 of the most common mistakes people make while trying to manage their blood sugar levels: saturated fat, poor sleep, too much caffeine, and poor snack choices.
Anyone doing their own research will soon realize that there is a lot of conflicting information about whether or not saturated fats are good for you. While the American Heart Association (AHA) does not completely condemn them – out of 2000 calories, no more than 120 should be saturated fats – they do recommend setting limits.
Just check out this 5-minute video from Dr. Greger…
In it, he cites numerous scientific studies to help explain how and why saturated fat raises blood sugar and can cause insulin resistance.
“Saturated fat causes more of those toxic breakdown products and mitochonidrial dysfunction and increase oxidative stress, free radicals, and inflammation,” Greger says. “[This causes] a viscious cycle of events in which saturated fat-induced free radicals cause dysfunction… [which leads to] an increase in free radical production and impairment of insulin signaling.”
Poor lifestyle habits such as high caffeine consumption and irregular sleep also wreak havoc on blood sugar!
The Sleep-Diabetes Connection
According to James Herdegen, MD, medical director of the Sleep Science Center at the University of Illinois in Chicago, “sleep deprivation [can alter] the sympathetic nervous system — the body’s stress-control center — and hormonal balances, all of which affects glucose regulation.”
“When you don’t get enough, your body appears to require more insulin to maintain normal glucose levels.” So, get more sleep!
Although recent studies have touted some of coffee’s amazing benefits, some scientists still believe people should be more mindful of their caffeine consumption. In fact, overdoing caffeine has been shown to:
- Rapid heartbeat
A study published in Diabetes Care analyzed the effects coffee had on healthy male volunteers. Researchers ended up finding that, when compared to placebo, caffeine actually decreased insulin sensitivity by 15 percent (which isn’t good if you’re trying to prevent diabetes).
For these reasons and because type 2 diabetes primarily deals with blood sugar and sugar imbalances, you have to be aware of the sugars that are in your foods. That being said, plenty of ‘healthy’ foods and diets might actually be helping to cause Type-2 diabetes. Here’s what you need to look out for.
Top 6 Unhealthiest ‘Healthy’ Habits
1. Energy Bars/Protein Bars
Although many brands of energy bars are marketed to seem like a healthy snack that will hold you over until your next meal, many are very high in carbohydrates and sugar and can end up skyrocketing your blood sugar levels. Popular brand Clif Bar’s crunchy peanut butter protein bar boasts 20 grams of sugar… each! (source)
Many people don’t expect such a high sugar content because of buzzwords like “natural” that set apart “healthy” snack brands. What they don’t realize is that it’s not just refined sugar that they should look out for- the peanut butter bar gets its sugar spike from brown rice syrup and cane juice.
If it’s protein you’re looking for, why not eat a serving of almonds instead? Just a handful (100 grams) can give you 42% of your recommended protein intake for the day, and protein (next to carbs) is one of the best types of foods to eat to stay full for longer. With only 3.9 grams of sugar found in a serving of almonds, you’ll do much better to keep your blood sugars even while waiting for your next big meal. Plus, you can benefit from their fiber, calcium, and iron content. (source)
2. Fruit Juices
Despite saying they’re made with ‘real’ fruits, often these juices are high in added sugar. One cup of apple juice can have as much as 25g of sugar and 0.5g of fiber. While an apple, on the other hand, has 19g of sugar and 4.5g of fiber. Drinking juice every day increases your diabetes risk and eating fruit can help lower it.
Fruits are delicious, but if blood sugar levels are a concern, drink veggies instead! I developed the habit of making a green smoothie (with some fruit) in the morning and carrying it with me in a glass jar throughout the day, and it helped to avoid sugary drinks quite a bit. Get one of my favorite recipes here!
3. Granola Bar
The average granola bar contains 29g of sugar per 100g, nearly 30%! Nature Valley, a bar that claims to be healthy, contains about 12g of sugar. This is equivalent to eating a bowl of Froot Loops. Most granola bars are rich in fructose corn syrup.
Make your own granola bars! My belief is that simplest is best, especially when it’s about making healthy choices. That being said, eat them sparingly or before a workout, as they can still be high in natural sugar.
Banana Oat Granola Bars
- 2 mashed ripe bananas
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1/4 cup chopped dates
- 1/4 cup chopped nuts of your choice.
- Combine all ingredients well, and pop in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees in a greased pan.
- Cut them into squares once cool and store in the fridge for up to 5 days. (source)
4. Low Fat
Often when something says it’s low fat, they’ve replaced the natural fat with added sugar to replace the flavor. This usually comes from a sweetener like corn syrup, which is also full of empty carbs. Bad fats increase your cholesterol and 200mg cholesterol per day is typically the limit for diabetics.
Eat ‘good’ fats like mono and poly-unsaturated fats instead. Plant oils, nuts, avocados, and fish are good sources.
5. Dairy Products
Yogurt and milk are full of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Carbs, in particular, are associated with blood glucose levels. One cup of milk or 6oz of yogurt contains 15g of carbs, so be sure to limit your intake.
Cheese, eggs, and butter are more fat and protein than carbs.
6. Breakfast Cereal
Many brands are filled with fast-digesting carbohydrates which rate high on the glycemic index.
Oatmeal. As long as it’s not the flavored variety, brands like Quaker are made from raw oats and don’t come with added sugar. Keep in mind that steel cut oats is always a better option than rolled oats, as it digests at a much slower rate!
While these foods may be great for some parts of your health, when it comes to diabetes they can be dangerous. Always be aware of what goes in your mouth and keep things in moderation.