lemon tea served on teacup
Diet, Education on Diabetes

4 Nutrients for Insulin Sensitivity

Here are 4 nutrients that promote insulin sensitivity and blood glucose balance.

Having good insulin sensitivity means glucose can move around the body and be used more efficiently. This reduces your risk of getting type 2 diabetes, and supports your overall health.

* These nutrients ARE NOT ‘cures’ of diabetes, they can be useful in managing glucose levels.

1. Cinnamon

jerk chicken - insulin sensitivity

Cinnamon mimics insulin, meaning receptors are more sensitive and glucose can move into cells easily. This helps to prevent hyperglycaemia as less glucose remains in the bloodstream.

It is really easy to get in your diet, sprinkle some cinnamon powder in your porridge, coffee or on toast. Also use either powder or sticks in your recipes. Cinnamon is delicious in asian dishes, jerk chicken and chilli-con carnie!

2. Chromium

Chromium is a mineral linked to glucose homeostasis in the body. It increases the activity of the enzyme tyrosine-kinase which increases the uptake of glucose into cells.

Broccoli, brazil nuts, apples, potatoes and lean meats are all very high in chromium!

3. Berberine

Berberine is a phytochemical present in many plants. It has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity through receptor activity, as well as regulating the amount of insulin secreted from the pancreas (in non-type 1 diabetics).

Herbs that contain berberine include barberry, goldenseal, Oregon grape and turmeric.

4. Omega-3 fatty acids

chia seeds - insulin sensitivity

Omega-3 fatty acids have been seen to amplify insulin sensitivity. This may be due to its structural role in cell membranes and insulin receptors. Omega-3 is also vital for brain and eye health, as well as reducing inflammation.

Have 3-4 portions of oily fish per week (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring). Vegetarian sources include 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts.

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If you liked this post, be sure to check out Insulin Resistance and Inflammation and 5 ways to reduce your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes

Education on Diabetes

The Menstrual Cycle and diabetes

The menstrual cycle can make sugar levels harder to control. Keep reading to find out why, and my tips for diabetes control.

How does the menstrual cycle impact blood sugars

The majority of girls living with type 1 diabetes will notice that their blood sugars rise around 7-5 days before their period starts.

This is due to a rise in the hormone progesterone. Progesterone builds the lining of the uterus before it shed during the menses.

Progesterone increases blood glucose because it reduces insulin signalling (causing some insulin resistance), as well as increasing glucose release from the liver.

Blood sugars usually return back to normal within the first couple days of bleeding, due to the rise in oestrogen.

This is what happens to the majority of women, but some may find that their blood sugars are lower, or not impacted at all (this is quite rare).

How to support blood sugar balance during this phase

tracking menstrual cycle

There are quite a few ways to support blood sugar balance during this time. We want to focus on promoting insulin sensitivity.

The first thing I recommend is to track your menstrual cycle. Take note of your cycle length (bleeding around every 28 days). Write a reminder in your diary a week to five days before so you expect to see your levels rise.

Now you will know why your blood sugars are being more difficult to control and you can implement some changes.

1.Adjust your insulin dose. – Look at your doses and slowly increase them if necessary. You’ll need to trial and error how much insulin you need, and whether increasing your basal or bolus works better for you.

*For example, a week before I’m expecting my period, I’ll increase all of my rapid doses by around 1-2 units. I have tried increasing my basal over a few days, but I find it sends me into a hypo. You have to juggle doses around, and stick to what works for you!

2. Watch your carbohydrate intake – Make sure you are paying extra attention to what type of carbs and how many carbs you are eating. Carb counting can come in very handy!

*For example, I notice if I eat more than 40-50g of carbs in one go, my sugars can get very stubborn. I also try to stick to complex carbs to avoid rapid blood sugar spikes.

relax - menstrual cycle

3. Try to reduce stress levels – If we are stressed, the body will secret more cortisol, which can also cause blood glucose to rise. So prioritise time to rest and relax!

4. Walk! – Gentle forms of cardio will really help to promote insulin sensitivity. Go for a walk after your main meal in the evening. Walking outdoors also helps us to unwind and relax after a busy day.

Irregular periods

If you have irregular periods it can be much harder to keep track of your sugar levels.

My best advice is to note down every time you have a period, and contact your doctor so they can help and advise you.

Thank you for reading The Menstrual Cycle and diabetes. Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Top tips on alcohol consumption and diabetes control! and Metabolic syndrome 101!

Recipes

Thai-style Chicken Meatballs!

Here is the full recipe for my Thai chicken meatballs, made with fresh lemon grass and red chilli. The meatballs can be served with noodles, pasta or rice and drizzled with sweet chilli sauce.

This recipe is has great macros which you can see below. Keep reading for the full recipe!

Serves 4

Macros: (chicken meatballs only)

Calories: 233
Carbohydrates: 19g
of which sugars: 7g
Fibre: 1g
Protein: 30g
Fat: 5g

Ingredients:

  • 500g chicken breast mince
  • 1 small red chilli (finely chopped)
  • 1 stalk fresh lemon grass (finely chopped)
  • 5 spring onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp corn flour
  • 4 tbsp fresh coriander (finely chopped)
  • 4 tbsp Thai sweet chilli sauce
  • Black pepper

Method:

1.Gently heat the sugar and fish sauce in a saucepan. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and stir in the lemon grass and red chilli. Let it cool for around 10 minutes.

2. Next, stir the sauce, spring onions, cornflour, coriander and black pepper into the chicken mince.

chicken mince - chicken meatballs

3. Lightly cover your hands with flour and shape the mixture into balls. Place them on a plate (it should make around 20 meatballs).

4. Put the meatballs in the fridge for around 30 minutes.

5. Next, gently heat some olive oil in a frying pan . Fry the meatballs for around 15 minutes, turning them so they cook evenly.

6. Once the meatballs are cooked, serve them up with your choice of carb, drizzle with sweet chilli sauce and some extra coriander.

7. Next, enjoy 🙂

chicken meatballs

Thank you for reading my Thai-style Chicken Meatballs! Give it a go, and be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out my Turkey Burger recipe and Jamie Oliver’s Jerk Chicken Recipe

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Diet, Education on Diabetes

The Keto Diet 101

The Keto Diet is very popular at the moment, with people trying it for quick weight loss or the management of different diseases.

There is lots to know about this diet so I am writing multiple posts to provide you with everything you need to know!

What is the Keto Diet

avocado - keto diet

The Keto Diet is when fat is the main food group consumed. Roughly 75% of calories consumed are from fat, 20% from protein, and only 5% from carbohydrates.

After a few days of eating keto, our body enters a state called ketosis. Ketosis is when our body is using fat as our main energy source, rather than carbohydrates. We begin to use ketones rather than glucose at a cellular level.

Our body also increases gluconeogeneis, which is when glucose is created from other sources (such as fat and protein).

Most people experience some symptoms for the first few days of eating keto. This can include fatigue, brain fog, cravings and GI symptoms. This is important to know if try eating keto.

Potential benefits

  • Weight loss – eating keto can cause rapid weight loss. This is because we carry less water when we consume less carbohydrates. Furthermore, the body starts to use up our fat stores for energy.
  • Increasing brain function – The brain can use ketones more efficiently which can decrease brain fog, fatigue and increase concentration for some people.
  • Management of some diseases – Research has shown the keto diet can help to manage childhood epilepsy and type 2 diabetes (more to come on this on another post). Some research has also demonstrated benefits in some cancers, but more research is needed for us to know for sure.

Potential cons

restaurants - keto diet
  • Nutritional deficiencies – Removing carbohydrates for a long time can result in B vitamin and fibre deficiency. This can cause problems such as fatigue, brain fog, constipation, some skin conditions and many more.
  • Increasing ‘bad’ cholesterol – Some people turn to consuming more red meat and processed foods. These foods can increase our LDL cholesterol, potentially increasing the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.
  • Impacting kidney function, bone density and potentially increasing the risk of some cancers – This is also linked to food choices when eating keto. Eating a lot of processed foods and meats can be very detrimental to our health.
  • It’s hard to follow – It obviously takes a lot of will power to consistently eat keto. It can also limit socialising as most restaurants do not cater for the keto diet.
  • It’s not for everyone – There are people who swear by it, but not everyone feels the benefits of keto! No diet is a miracle cure for everyone, always remember that.

Before making any drastic decisions about your diet, always talk to a nutritionist and/or doctor. They will help you to weigh the pros and cons, and to ultimately make the best decision for your health.

Thank you for reading my Keto Diet 101, keep an eye out for more posts about this topic! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Diabulimia 101! and Insulin Resistance and Inflammation

a woman holding an insulin injection pen
Education on Diabetes, Top Tips

Insulin Resistance and Inflammation

What is insulin resistance

Insulin resistance is when cells across the body do not respond well to insulin. This means glucose remains in the bloodstream rather than moving into cells.

This can lead to elevated blood glucose, potentially resulting in pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.

Vicious cycle

high blood pressure - insulin resistance

When we start to develop insulin resistance, the body starts to produce more inflammatory cytokines. Cytokines then amplify insulin resistance, showing a vicious cycle between the two.

Other markers of inflammation are often implicated in type 2 diabetes. This includes having high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart disease, kidney disease, neuropathy and retinopathy.

Simple ways to boost insulin sensitivity and decrease inflammation

1.Remove refined and processed sugars – The best place to start is to remove/decrease foods that cause blood sugars to spike rapidly. Processed sugars can also contribute towards increased cytokines, so be sure to stick to natural sugars.

2. Eat 8 portions of the rainbow everyday – The body needs a lot of antioxidants to overcome insulin resistance, and to prevent any damage to the body. So try to eat 8 handfuls of fresh fruit and veg everyday. Also try herbal teas (green tea is great). They are generally very high in antioxidants.

walking to reduce insulin resistance

3. Get moving – Having a sedentary lifestyle is linked to the onset of insulin resistance, so be sure to get some movement in everyday. A great habit to get into is to walk after your evening meal. The exercise helps to increase insulin sensitivity, preventing a big glucose spike.

4. Eat fermented foods – A link has been found between insulin resistance and having less ‘good’ bacteria in the gut. Try and eat one fermented food everyday, such as greek yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir or kombucha. This will help to decrease inflammation and will aid healthy digestion.

5. Rest up – having a stable sleep pattern is vital for overall health and helping the body to heal. So try and get 8-10 hours of sleep and stick to your schedule for the majority!

Thank you for reading Insulin Resistance and Inflammation. Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Oxidative Stress 101 and 5 ways to reduce your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes

Recipes

3 Delicious Summer Dips!

Here are 3 delicious dips that are perfect for summer! The red pepper hummus, beetroot guacamole and salsa verde are all super easy to make, and will impress your summer party and BBQ guests!

The macros for all dips are listed below, the red pepper hummus, beetroot guacamole and salsa verde provide different colours and different essential nutrients to keep your diet varied!

Estimated macros per portions:

Red pepper hummus:

Calories: 75
Carbohydrates:
5g
of which sugars:
1g
Fibre:
1.5g
Fat:
5.5g
Protein:
2g

Beetroot guacamole:

Calories: 63
Carbohydrates:
7g
of which sugars:
3g
Fibre:
3g
Fat:
4g
Protein:
2g

Salsa Verde:

Calories: 63
Carbohydrates:
0g
of which sugars: 0g
Fibre: 0g
Fat: 7g
Protein: 0g

Ingredients:

Red pepper hummus:

  • 1 can cooked chickpeas
  • 2 roasted red bell peppers (either jarred or pre-roast them yourself)
  • 60ml tahini
  • Juice 2 lemons
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp either extra virgin olive oil or sesame oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • Salt and pepper
3 summer dips ingredients

Beetroot guacamole:

  • 1 large avocado
  • 80g marinated beetroot
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 spring onion
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small bunch coriander
  • Olive oil if needed
  • Salt and pepper

Salsa Verde:

  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 lunch fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2.5 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 120ml extra virgin olive oil

Methods:

Red pepper hummus:

1.Add the tahini and lemon juice to the blender and blitz until it whips.

2. Next, add the oil, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper to the tahini mix. Blend for another 30 seconds.

3. Open, drain and rinse the chickpeas then add half to the blender. Blend for around 1 minute, then add the remaining chickpeas along with the roasted red peppers.

chickpeas - 3 summer dips

4. Blend for another minute or so, add olive oil to loosen the mixture if necessary.

5. Next, enjoy!

red pepper hummus

Beetroot guacamole:

1.Scoop the avocado and place in the blender with the coriander, lime juice, tomatoes, spring onion, beetroot, salt and pepper.

2. Blend until smooth, if it is lumpy add some olive oil to add more liquid.

3. Next, enjoy!

Beetroot guacamole

Salsa Verde:

1.Put the capers in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let this sit for 1 minute to remove some excess salt.

2. Next, put the mint, parsley, capers, mustard, olive oil, garlic and apple cider vinegar in a blender. Blitz until roughly chopped and combined.

salsa verde

Thank you for reading my 3 Delicious Summer Dips! Give them all a go, they are delicious! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post be sure to check out my My tasty 5 minute salad and Peri-Peri chicken recipe

3 summer dips
woman wearing teal dress sitting on chair talking to man
Education on Diabetes

Never say these 5 things to a diabetic

Here are 5 things to never say to a diabetic, and how to avoid being that patronising person.

1. ‘You need to stop eating sugar/carbs’

never say these things - carbs

Don’t try and be the carb police, carbohydrates are vital for everyone including those living with diabetes.

People seem to get confused between types of diabetes, and how they are managed. Decreasing the amount of carbs and changing the type of carbs is more important. However, cutting out this food group will be detrimental and will likely not change sugar management.

Positive changes can be swapping to brown and wholegrain carb sources, and ensuring the plate is balanced with carbs, fats, protein and veggies.

So, please don’t be that person, this is not how diabetes works and cutting out carbs will not reverse it.

2.Did you used to be fat

Being overweight is associated with the onset of type 2 diabetes, however it is not the only cause. Age, ethnicity, diet quality and activity are also major factors.

Furthermore, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition, it is not caused by being overweight. Perfectly healthy individuals can get type 1 due to immune dysfunction.

We need to move away from associating the word ‘fat’ with diabetes. There is a link with some types of diabetes, but it creates a negative stigma around the disease. This is unhelpful for people living with type 1, as well as people trying to manage and reverse pre-diabetes and type 2.

3. ‘All you have to do is inject some insulin right?’

Injecting insulin - never say these things

Some people like to believe managing diabetes is that simple. Taking insulin can be difficult in the first place, from people having to move past fears of needles, painful injection sights and pumps going wrong (to name a few).

But what really makes this statement ridiculous is the amount of factors that impact how much insulin you need. There are quite literally hundreds of factors that impact blood glucose, and how much insulin is needed. Everything impacts your sugars, and every diabetic taking insulin has to consider each and every thing when deciding on a dose.

Sometimes the dose we calculate can be completely wrong when most days it would be perfect. That is because we cannot know everything that is going on in the body all the time, for example minor infections or hormonal fluctuations.

This statement is more than an oversimplification, it is an insult. Feel free to ask about insulin/ diabetes management, but never insinuate it is an easy task.

4. ‘Are you supposed to be eating that’

Simply, never question what anyone is eating. People who barely know me (or anything about living with diabetes) say this, and it can be an incredibly damaging statement.

It is none of your business and it is patronising. We can eat pretty much anything we want with the right prep.

So please, never say this, you are only making yourself look stupid. Perhaps a better way to approach this is to ask how we might adjust our insulin etc. But if you barely know the person, I wouldn’t say anything at all.

5. ‘That’s the disease where you lose your legs and eye sight right?’

eye check - never say this

Some reading this will be shocked at this statement, but people say this all the time… Of course it is insensitive, everyone living with diabetes is aware of the potential complications. We don’t need to be reminded of such possibilities.

We also need to take this back to diabetes education. Having a diagnosis does not mean that it will lead to severe complications. Many people living with diabetes (regardless of the type) may get some degree of complication, for example background retinopathy is extremely common even if you have very well controlled diabetes. Living with diabetes is not a sentence to an unhealthy life.

This is also not a great way to start a conversation around diabetes, people living with diabetes can have a lot of anxiety around complications (which is normal). It is vital to know about the potential life changing consequences, but it should never be the only focus.

We can absolutely do anything with the correct support and resources. The focus should always be how to support each person individually, and maximising time in range.

One other point I’d like to make is that people living with diabetes do not want to constantly answer questions about it. Many of us are open and will talk about it, but if you are constantly bringing it up it can get annoying. Always ask appropriate questions so you can learn, but know when to stop and move on There is so much more to people than the disease they are may be living with.

thank you text

Thank you for reading Never say these 5 things to diabetics, I hope you found this useful! be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Dealing with annoying questions about diabetes and Confused about ‘types’ of diabetes? Here is your diabetes 101

man in white shirt suffering from a stomach pain
Diet, Education on Diabetes

Leaky Gut Syndrome 101

Leaky gut syndrome is a hypothetical condition with symptoms being extremely common. Leaky gut can often cause a myriad of symptoms in the gut and across the body.

What is it?

bacteria - leaky gut syndrome

The intestines have a barrier made up of cells which separates the lining of the gut and the bloodstream. Normally this layer of cells are tightly packed together, so we only absorb nutrients and not harmful substances.

Leaky gut syndrome is when the tight junctions between cells become loose, increasing absorption of harmful substances. This can result in toxins and bacteria leaking into the bloodstream, creating inflammation and symptoms across the body.

Symptoms can include:

  • Diarrhoea/constipation
  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Excessive flatulence
  • Brain fog
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Joint/muscle pain
  • Skin conditions e.g. acne and eczema

Due to such a variety of symptoms, people often do not know they have leaky gut.

Consequences of leaky gut syndrome

Inflammation created by leaky gut can be associated with:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis)
  • Coeliac disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Autoimmune conditions (e.g. Type 1 diabetes, Grave’s disease etc)

Preventing leaky gut syndrome

antibiotics - leaky gut syndrome

The following can be associated with leaky gut:

  • Antibiotic use
  • Certain medications (PPI’s)
  • Chronic stress
  • Alcohol
  • Environmental toxin exposure
  • Gluten consumption
  • Dysbiosis (overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut)
  • Nutrient deficiencies

The following steps can help to decrease the risk of getting leaky gut:

1.Remove foods that can trigger inflammation. This can include going gluten-free, decreasing alcohol and caffeine consumption.

fermented foods - preventing leaky gut syndrome

2. Replace essential nutrients needed to support digestive health. This can be achieved by increasing fibre and prebiotic foods (garlic, onion, leek, asparagus, banana) to support digestion, absorption and elimination. 

3. Reinoculate the gut with beneficial bacteria. Consuming fermented foods such as kimchi, kombucha and sauerkraut and/or taking a prebiotic supplement can help to reinoculate the gut. 

4. Repair the gut by consuming vital nutrients needed for the intestinal barrier. Increasing fresh fruit and vegetables for vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals can help to increase nutrients for the intestinal barrier. 

5. Rebalance and decrease stress load. Chronic stress can decrease blood flow to the gut, linking to leaky gut. Use breathing techniques and relaxation methods to aid stress relief.

Thank you for reading Leaky Gut Syndrome 101! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Oxidative Stress 101 and Metabolic syndrome 101!

woman sleeping
Education on Diabetes, Top Tips

The Morning Phenomenon

Some people living with diabetes struggle with the morning phenomenon (AKA – high blood sugars in the morning). This can be confusing as we don’t expect our sugars to rise when we are sleeping and not eating.

There are a couple of different causes of the morning phenomenon, so here is everything you need to know, as well as how you can help to prevent it!

Hormones

morning phenomenon

In the morning the body secretes cortisol and growth hormone. Both hormones cause blood sugar levels to rise to give us enough energy to wake up. Of course people living with diabetes either cannot make insulin, or have insulin resistance. Therefore too much sugar remains in the blood.

Morning spikes can cause fatigue as it interrupts energy delivery, so it is something we really want to prevent.

The best way to combat this is to look at your basal insulin. Take a look at your dose with your doctor and they can help to recommend a different dose, or perhaps a better time to take your basal insulin.

Waning insulin

Another cause of the morning phenomenon is not having enough insulin in your blood to last the whole night. Of course this will result with higher sugar levels.

Again, taking a look at your basal insulin is the best place to start. If you take your basal in the morning it may not last until the following morning. You and your team may decide to increase your basal dose, or even consider basal splitting. This is when you take the basal in divided doses so you have enough background insulin 24/7.

The Somogyi effect

hypo snack - morning phenomenon

The Somogyi effect is when a low blood sugar in the night causes a rebound high blood sugar. The body is overcompensating for the low blood sugar, and releases too much sugar into the blood.

The best way to prevent the Somogyi effect is to prevent the hypo in the first place. So make sure you eat enough carbs with your evening meal and try to limit exercise late at night. Always check your sugars before going to sleep, and I advise having a snack if you are below 5.0mmol/L.

My final tip is to have a portioned hypo snack by your bedside. This will prevent you over-treating a hypo during the night.

Thank you for reading the Morning Phenomenon, I hope this was useful! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Exam stress and sugar levels and Summer travelling tips


Recipes

Healthy Cheesecake Recipe!

Here is my healthy cheesecake recipe which is the perfect summer dessert! Be sure to give this super easy recipe a go!

Serves 14

Macros:

Calories: 296
Carbohydrates: 21g
of which sugars: 8.5g
Fibre: 1.3g
Protein: 3.5g
Fat: 19g

Ingredients:

cheesecake ingredients
  • 250g GF Nairn’s chocolate chip biscuits
  • 100g coconut oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 400g mascarpone cream cheese
  • 200g greek yogurt
  • 250g Oatly whippable creamy oat
  • 5 tablespoons organic honey
  • Strawberries for the top

Method:

1.Use coconut oil to grease the bottom of you1r loose-bottom tin. Next, place the Nairn’s biscuits and pulse until they resemble crumbs.

2. Pour the crumbs into a bowl with the melted coconut oil and stir until combined. Tip this mixture into the tin and use a spoon to press it down to form a firm base layer.

cheesecake base

3. Next, place the cream cheese, yogurt, vanilla and honey into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the whippable creamy oat and continue beating the mixture until it is combined and smooth.

4. Pour the mixture on top of the base and smooth over with a spoon.

5. Chop up the strawberries and decorate the top of the cheesecake.

6. Leave the cheesecake to set for at least 6 hours (overnight is ideal!)

7. Next, enjoy! 🙂

cheesecake

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If you liked this post, be sure to check out my Strawberry jam cake recipe and my Apple and Blackberry Crumble