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Loren Hall, a certified natural health practitioner and certified nutrition consultant in Chester County, said she has seen an interesting trend that involves people using glucometers to assist them on their weight-loss journey.
Typically used for managing diabetes, glucometers are helping prediabetics be proactive in avoiding a diabetes diagnosis through assisting them with the awareness of changes they need to make to keep a healthy lifestyle.
“Part of their weight-loss plan is they are trying to make sure they have sugar levels within normal range,” Hall said, referring to A1C levels. “They are utilizing and maintaining healthy levels as part of their protocol.”
Prediabetics are using glucometers, which can be purchased over the counter at the pharmacy, at every meal. The test requires a prick of the finger to draw some blood to then place on a testing strip that reads your glucose level.
“You do it right before you consume food and 30 minutes to one hour after every meal to make sure your blood sugar isn’t spiking,” she said. “When it spikes, it’s an indicator that your body is not able to convert your digested food into glucose, therefore it gets stored as fat in the body instead of getting used as fuel.”
The test can be a good indicator of improper diet, improper food combinations and poor digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Hall said it can also mean that your enzymes are not able to do what they are supposed to do: break down the food and turn it into glucose to be used in the body as energy.
“If your blood sugar is consistently within normal range, you have a better shot of losing weight,” she said.
According to Hall, the information gained from regularly using a glucometer can benefit anyone who is either trying to lose weight or who has been given a prediabetes or diabetes diagnosis.
“They are learning proper food combining, it helps to better tailor a more succinct exercise routine and it gives you a window of what’s going on inside somebody’s body,” Hall said.
Hall said the information enables a nutrition consultant to better guide a person with their food choices, exercise and supplementation.
For those age 50 and older who don’t have the ability to get as much exercise as someone who is younger, Hall offers some advice.
“I would focus more for them on low glycemic choices and food combining and emphasize to them that exercise is the key that puts the whole puzzle together,” she said.
For those who have very limited movement due to their age and/or circumstances, Hall said they don’t have to give up hope in reversing their situation if prediabetic or diabetic.
“I have seen them reverse diabetes with food combining and a low-glycemic diet alone,” Hall said. “I have seen those with type 2 diabetes be able to get off insulin and control their blood sugar naturally.”
Alternatively, for those who are borderline diabetics and aren’t staying clued into their bodies, type 1 or type 2 diabetes could become a reality that would require a much more drastic lifestyle change beyond monitoring your blood sugar every day at mealtimes.
“You are married to insulin to function, you are susceptible to vision loss, paralysis and nerve damage,” Hall said. “Death is potentially the greatest consequence — people in my family have died from diabetes. Since your body can’t function without proper glucose usage, people can go into a diabetic coma or shock and can die as a result if left untreated.”
Hall, who is the owner of Vegha Wellness and Nutrition and is also a nutritional counselor at Solutions 4 Health in Wayne, Chester County, emphasized a concern over the prevalence of diabetes today.
“It’s no joke — it’s really an epidemic because people are eating so many processed foods that are laden with sugar and high levels of saturated fat,” she said. “If your blood glucose levels are consistently high after eating, you are heading in the direction of prediabetes or diabetes unless you make changes.”
She pinpointed four ways to keep yourself in check and keep yourself from becoming prediabetic or diabetic.
“Hydration, proper nutrition and food combining, proper exercise for your body type and lifestyle, and supplementation,” Hall said.
Food combining involves separating certain macronutrients and food groups that can help with digestion, assist with weight loss and balance sugar levels. Hall recommends waiting 45 mins to an hour before introducing a different combination of foods.
“One example would be combining proteins and vegetables for easy digestion and blood sugar stabilization,” she said, adding that starches and vegetables are another ideal combination with the overall idea being to avoid too many food groups at one time. “It’s always best to separate your fruits from other foods because it decreases fermentation in the gut, which is important to give your body more efficient digestion.”’
Hall discussed the importance of getting to know and understand low-glycemic food choices from which to choose. Vegetables to gravitate towards are the non-starchy types that are on the low end of the glycemic index.
“Those would be vegetables like artichokes, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini and cauliflower,” she said.
When it comes to fruits, she said that those that have equal amounts of fiber in them as they do natural fructose are ideal choices.
“Those would be all of your berries, cherries, peaches and apricots,” she said of some examples. “They balance out their glycemic value because the fiber counteracts the sugar.”
She said a diet that consists of a variety of fruits and vegetables can work well, regardless of where they fall on the glycemic index, as long as you practice moderation.
“It really is about moderation and knowing how to combine your food so you aren’t eating things that spike your insulin,” she said.
With the holidays coming up, a time when sweets tend to come to mind, Hall shared her top two low-glycemic sweetener choices that work well in baking.
“There are health benefits to stevia and monk fruit, and they are going to be your lowest glycemic,” she said, referring to two sweetener alternatives that come in granulated and liquid form. “If you decide to go with a raw, local, maple syrup, that is a more nutrient dense natural sweetener, so you have to weigh the quality of the food versus what you are trying to achieve.
“Today we are fortunate to have a lot of healthy options to replace refined sugars, so we don’t have to give up our favorite holiday recipes.”
About monk fruit sweetener: Loren Hall, owner of Vegha Wellness and Nutrition, recommends monk fruit sweetener as a replacement for refined sugar since using a sugar substitute, such as mon fruit or stevia can help prevent sugar spikes.
Everyday uses for monk fruit sweetener:
• Add it to coffee and tea.
• Substitute it for sugar in baking.
• Sprinkle it on breakfast items like oatmeal or yogurt.
• Whip it into frosting or mousse.
Source: www.celevelandclinic.org
Vegha Wellness and Nutrition: www.veghawellness.com
Solutions 4 Health: www.solutions4health.com
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