Electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, and potassium can help manage blood sugar levels and improve the overall health of people with type 2 diabetes. Our mates at Sodii, our favourite electrolyte supplement provider, explain why.
The importance of sodium
Sodium (or salt) is the most abundant electrolyte in the human body. It helps maintain the fluid balance inside our cells and controls blood pressure, nutrition absorption and blood glucose levels. Although health warnings often warn us not to eat too much salt, Defeat Diabetes expert Dr Paul Mason says: “It’s interesting to note that the Australian dietary guidelines no longer specify a recommended upper limit for sodium intake in adults. Indeed, in their own words, the previously recommended limit on sodium intake was ‘based on early interpretations of very limited data’.
Low sodium levels can cause low blood pressure, fatigue, headaches, irritability, confusion, poor sleep, nausea, and other problems. Today, most of our salt intake comes from processed and low-quality foods, so sodium intake naturally decreases when you switch to a low carbohydrate approach. As a result, you may need to increase the amount of salt you add to food to ensure you’re getting enough.
Choosing the right sodium source
While sodium is abundant in many processed foods, choosing high-quality salt from unrefined natural sources such as Lake Salt, Celtic Sea Salt, or Australian Sea Salt is critical. These salts contain essential trace minerals and sodium, which can help manage blood pressure and offer other health advantages.
The importance of magnesium
Magnesium is used in hundreds of metabolic events related to insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. When you have type 2 diabetes, getting enough magnesium becomes even more important and can lead to:
- Improved insulin sensitivity: Magnesium may increase insulin sensitivity, allowing your cells to use glucose more effectively. Better insulin sensitivity may result in improved blood sugar control.
- Improved blood pressure control: Diabetes is often accompanied by high blood pressure, which magnesium may help regulate.
- Better nerve health: Magnesium may promote nerve health and help prevent diabetic neuropathy (when high blood glucose leads to nerve damage).
- Support for heart health: Diabetes raises the risk of heart disease. Magnesium can help heart health by reducing arrhythmias and keeping the heartbeat steady.
- Stress management and better sleep: Stress can raise blood sugar levels, and chronic stress can contribute to poor food habits and decreased physical exercise, worsening the symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Lack of sleep can also disrupt hormonal balance, impacting insulin sensitivity. Magnesium may help stress management and lead to a more peaceful night’s sleep by binding to neurotransmitters that soothe the nervous system.
Which magnesium is best for me?
Magnesium comes in several forms, but our friends at Sodii recommend magnesium glycinate. It’s more easily absorbed and is gentle on the stomach, lowering the possibility of digestive pain or laxative effects that can occur with other magnesium supplements.
Magnesium glycinate is also known for its calming and relaxing properties, which can help with stress management and sleep quality—two crucial aspects of diabetes care.
The sodium-potassium partnership
Sodium and potassium work together to help maintain the fluid balance in our body. Sodium generally regulates fluid transport outside cells, and potassium regulates fluid within cells, ensuring cells stay hydrated and operate correctly. This delicate balance of sodium and potassium regulates blood pressure, nerve impulses and muscle contractions, all of which are important for overall health.
Sodium, magnesium and potassium work together to help manage type 2 diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes, consider including a natural, high-quality salt in your diet for sodium intake and potassium and magnesium-rich foods such as leafy green vegetables, full fat yoghurt, salmon, unsweetened coconut water and avocado to support overall glycaemic control.
Alternatively, a good quality sugar-free electrolyte supplement, like those from our friends at Sodii, can be a fuss-free (and tasty!) way to include more essential electrolytes for better health.
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