Planting and Harvesting Better Glucose Control

If your diabetes doctor tells you to reduce your stress, increase your activity level, and cut back on sugar intake there’s one enjoyable solution.

Gardening, whether in patio pots or backyard plots, provides mind and body health benefits that sync perfectly with diabetes management. These benefits are measurable, and science has been verifying the wellness perks gardeners have long enjoyed.

Stress Relief

Investigators found, for instance, that 30 minutes of gardening following a stressful activity was better at lowering cortisol* levels than a half hour of indoor reading. Plus, gardening restored people’s positive moods, while the time spent reading did not.

Planting or pulling weeds also gives us a much needed break from "directed attention," or focusing on tasks such as job reports, emails, or making phone calls. While caring for a garden we engage in a more effortless, restful, free-flowing attention that is attuned to the sights, sounds, smells, and textures around us. “The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses,” wrote author and artist Hanna Rion.

However, not all the stress relieving, mood boosting benefits of gardening occur above the soil. A bacterium commonly found in dirt, mycobacterium vaccae, mirrors the action of certain anti-depressants (e.g., Prozac) by stimulating the release of serotonin, one of our feel-good, mood brightening neurotransmitters.

Good Exercise

Beside helping us relax and be happy, tending a garden increases our overall activity level, and provides moderate to intense exercise. All the lifting, bending, pushing, and pulling required for plant cultivation works multiple muscle groups, and helps us stay strong, flexible, and maintain good balance.

The activities of digging and raking give us a high-intensity workout, while more moderate benefits come from hoeing, mulching, weeding, sowing, harvesting, watering, mixing growing mediums, and transplanting. Since gardeners often switch between activities over the course of an hour, these earthy workouts are typically varied and target different body areas.

Sugar Substitute

Although weeding and watering helps us stay fit, the most treasured garden perk may be partaking of its bounty, and those with diabetes can help themselves cut back on sugar consumption by harvesting stevia—a green plant with calorie-free sweet tasting leaves.

Dried stevia leaves, whether crushed by hand or powdered in a food processor, sweeten** food and drink without causing any elevation in blood glucose. Stevia leaves can also be used fresh during the growing season in lemonade or iced tea.

Each stevia plant needs about 18 inches of garden space to grow. Loose, loamy, well-drained soil is best for this perennial that thrives in warm sun, and withers after the first frost. Stevia plants will also thrive in 12 inch pots filled with a quality potting mix and placed in full sun.

Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. ~ Lindley Karstens

Sources: Mercola; HortTech; Bonnie Plants
Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture

*Cortisol is a hormone the body releases when we are stressed.

**An eighth teaspoon of powdered stevia equals the sweetness of a teaspoon of sugar.

Get a Free Diabetes Meal Plan

Get a free 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan from Constance Brown-Riggs who is a Registered Dietitian-Certified Diabetes Educator and who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Just enter in your email below to download your free Diabetes Meal Plan.

By clicking Submit, you agree to send your info to InformationAboutDiabetes.com who may contact you with updates and information and we agree to use it according to our privacy policy.

More Articles

Doctors use regular assessments of their diabetic patients not only to monitor the progress of the disease but also as opportunities to counsel...

Every body needs insulin, an essential hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar by converting glucose into energy. Diabetics...

People are not the only beings who suffer from diabetes. Any mammal with a pancreas can develop the disease through a lack of or impaired insulin...

When is diabetes not really diabetes? When it is Diabetes Insipidus. Diabetes Insipidus is a rare disorder not related to diabetes mellitus,...

When news stations feature stories about diabetes, they tend to include a shot of an overweight body, calling attention to the person's excess...

More Articles

The most well-known variations of diabetes are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes....

Those who have not yet been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can greatly reduce their susceptibility by doing one key...

There are those who have heard of the term "diabetes mellitus," but might not be familiar with it. Diabetes Mellitus is a condition in...

Not only is dry skin uncomfortable, but scratched or cracked skin is also susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections – common medical...

=It’s helpful to know the difference between a food’s total grams of carbohydrate, and net grams of carbohydrate since only net carbs affect blood...

Eating LCHF, or a Low Carb High Fat diet, is a bit mind-bending for those of us who have learned to consume low-fat and lean. In many respects, it...

A 1-minute quiz could predict whether or not you're at risk for prediabetes. More than 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. have prediabetes, which - left...

The human body needs chromium, a trace mineral, for several essential functions including the normalizing of...

Do not let pictures of yoga experts with their bodies twisted into bizarre, compact shapes fool you. Even people with stiff muscles, creaky joints...

It can be difficult enough to get on stage and make a roomful of strangers laugh, but for comedians suffering from type 1 or type 2 diabetes,...

Because beets have moderately high sugar content, it’s typically recommended that people watching their glucose levels limit beet consumption....

It would be interesting to know how many people with diabetes actually use blood glucose control solutions to regularly check the accuracy of...

Gestational diabetes is a condition characterized by abnormally high blood glucose levels during the condition...

How frustrating to wake up in the morning with elevated blood sugar when all you did was dream about eating a piece of cheesecake. A seemingly...

There is nothing close to a one-size-fits-all exercise program for those with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The best general advice is to...