Healthy Ways to manage your diabetes
Did you know that in 2021, around 537 million adults are living with diabetes? And this number can rise to 643 million by 2030 and 783 million by 2045. Why? Diabetes is a lifelong disease and there is no cure available for this disease but with medications and lifestyle changes you can manage your diabetes, and you can live a better life. Here are some tips that help to better diabetes control and keep you healthy.
Ways to manage diabetes
Here are some most common ways that you can use to manage your diabetes:
1. Diet: Making changes in your diet is very necessary to keep your blood sugar levels under control. It not only depends on what type of food you eat but also on how much you eat and what food combinations you eat. To improve your diet, make these changes:
- Learn about carbohydrate counting and portion sizes: Managing your carbohydrates makes the biggest impact on blood sugar levels because carbohydrates can increase blood sugar levels very quickly. People who take mealtime insulin need to know the amount of carbohydrates they consume in the food so that they get proper insulin doses. So, you need to learn what portion size you should consume according to each food type. You can do it by writing your portion size for foods you eat often and measuring them on a scale to ensure a proper portion size and an accurate carbohydrate count.
- Eat well-balanced meals: Try to plan your every meal to have a good mixture of starches, fruits and vegetables, proteins, and fats. Always pay attention to what carbohydrate type you choose. The carbohydrates that come from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, are better for you than others. These foods are low in carbohydrates and high in fiber which keeps your blood sugar levels in control. You can consult your doctor or dietitian about the best foods to eat when you have diabetes.
- Have good coordination between your meals and medications: You need to consume a balanced amount of food in proportion to your diabetes medications (especially insulin) because too little food with insulin can lead to hypoglycemia and too much food with insulin can lead to hyperglycemia. So, learn about the coordination of meals and medication schedules from your doctor.
- Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages: Sugar-containing beverages tend to have high calories and low nutrition. And that’s why it raises your blood sugar levels very quickly. So, the best option is to avoid them to keep the blood sugar levels under control.
2. Exercise: This is another essential part of the management plan for diabetes that you can’t ignore. When you do physical activity your muscles use sugar for energy and help your body to use insulin more efficiently. All of this helps you lower your blood sugar levels. The harder you work out or keep yourself physically active throughout the day, the more efficient insulin is in its effects to manage blood sugar levels. But also, lighter activities such as housework, gardening, or being on your feet for extended periods can improve your blood sugar levels.
Here is what you can do:
- Ask your doctor about an exercise plan: Your doctor can tell you what type of exercise should be suitable for you. Mostly, adults need to be physically active for at least 150 minutes (about 2 and a half hours) a week. Aim for about 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a day on most days of the week. If you are inactive for a long time, your doctor may want to check your overall health before advising you. Usually, they recommend you the right balance of aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises.
- Maintain an exercise schedule: Ask your doctor for the best time of the day for you to exercise to get the maximum benefit and easily maintain good coordination with your meal and medication.
- Know your numbers: Ask your doctor about your blood sugar levels that should be appropriate for you before you start your exercise.
- Check your blood sugar level before a workout: Checking your blood sugar levels before, during, and after exercise is important especially if you take insulin or medications that lower your blood sugar levels. Exercise can lower your blood sugar levels even for the next day, particularly if your workout routine is new to you or if you exercise at an intense level. So, if you feel your blood sugar getting low take a small snack break before starting exercise to prevent a low blood sugar level.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water during exercise prevents you from getting dehydrated which can affect blood sugar levels.
- Keep yourself prepared: When you go to the gym, make sure you take a small snack or glucose tablets with you during exercise in case your blood sugar levels drop too low. Wear a medical identification bracelet too so that people can call for medical emergencies in case you get dizzy or lose consciousness.
- Adjust your diabetes treatment plan as needed: If you take insulin to lower your blood sugar levels, you may need to reduce the insulin dose before exercising and monitor your blood sugar closely for several hours after an intense workout because it can lead to hypoglycemia. So, ask your doctor to make appropriate changes to your medication according to your exercise routine.
3. Stress: If you easily get stressed, then your body produces hormones in response to your stress which lowers the insulin effectiveness and causes a spike in your blood sugar level. In addition, it also makes it harder to follow your diabetes management routine if you are under a lot of stress. What you can do:
- Look for patterns: When you feel stressed, check your stress level on a scale of 1 to 10 each time you log your blood sugar level. A pattern may soon emerge.
- Take control: When you know that stress affects your blood sugar level, it’s time to fight back. Learn stress-relieving techniques, prioritize your tasks, and set limits. Whenever possible, avoid common stress triggers. Exercising regularly can help you reduce your stress and blood sugar levels.
- Get help: You can learn new strategies to manage your stress. A psychologist or clinical social worker can help you identify stressors and solve stressful problems or teach you how to cope with them.
4. Medications: Diabetes medications and insulin shots are designed to lower your blood sugar levels when diet and exercise alone aren’t enough to manage your diabetes. But keep in mind, that the effectiveness of these medications depends on the timing and size of the dose. If you also take some other medications (for conditions other than diabetes) it can also affect your blood sugar levels. What you can do:
- Store insulin properly: Insulin shots need to be stored in cold places; you can put them in the refrigerator but not in the freezer because it is quite sensitive to temperature. If insulin is not stored properly or is past its expiration date, then it loses its effectiveness.
- Report problems to your doctor: If your diabetes medication causes your blood sugar levels to go too low or too high, then your doctor can ask you to reduce your dose or make some adjustments to your timing.
- Be cautious with new medications: If you’re considering taking another medication or your doctor prescribes you a new drug to treat another condition such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, then make sure you ask your doctor or pharmacist if the medication may affect your blood sugar levels. Sometimes some medication is recommended but make sure to ask your doctor how it may impact your blood sugar level.
5. Diabetes care (ABC): If you fail to manage your diabetes, it can lead to severe complications, especially heart disease. If you manage your diabetes by keeping yourself in good shape and managing your blood sugar through diet, exercise, or medications then you may lower your risk of getting a heart attack, stroke, and other diabetes complications. Diabetes care ABC is used as a key measurement for a healthy range. ABC stands for:
- ‘A’ Stands for ‘A1c test’: This test helps you to measure average blood sugar levels over the last 3 months.
- ‘B’ stands for ‘blood pressure’: It is the natural force of your blood as it flows through your blood vessels. Get regular check-ups to manage your blood pressure.
- ‘C’ stands for ‘cholesterol’: If you have too much bad cholesterol in your blood, it may cause clogs in your arteries which can lead to heart attack or stroke.
What you can do:
- Reach your A1c goals: The A1c test tells your ideal blood sugar level/diabetes control range depending on your age and health. When you keep your blood sugar in a healthy range, it also protects your blood vessels from getting damaged by high blood sugar levels.
- Lower your blood pressure: Many people may experience high blood pressure, which can damage blood vessels and cause heart attack or stroke. So, you need to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range. Usually, for most people with type 2 diabetes, this range is 140/90 or lower, depending on the risk of having heart disease. So, make sure to know how you can keep your blood pressure in the ideal range.
- Control your cholesterol: Cholesterol is a friend or foe to your heart, depending on its type. If you have LDL “bad cholesterol” it can clump up in arteries and block the blood flow which can cause heart disease or stroke. If you have HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) “good cholesterol” in your body, then it helps to clear LDL cholesterol out of your blood and protect your arteries. So, ask your doctor how to manage your cholesterol levels with the right diet, exercise, and medicine that can help.
The more you know about the factors that affect blood sugar levels, the more you can anticipate them and plan accordingly. If you experience trouble keeping your blood sugar level in the targeted range, ask your diabetes healthcare team to help you.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that’s caused when the insulin hormone fails to manage your blood sugar level efficiently. It happens when cells become resistant to insulin or insulin production is reduced. If left untreated, it can lead to severe complications even death. While there is no cure for this disease, managing your diabetes in these 5 ways helps you achieve better diabetes control and can help you live a normal life.
Want to learn about more factors that keep you healthy despite your diabetes? If you have symptoms that indicate diabetes, visit our clinic. You can log on to www.doralhw.org to know more. Our diabetologists diagnose your condition and provide the best treatment that gives you a better life, even with diabetes. Call us on 718-DORAL-55 or 1-347-384-5690 to get answers to your queries or pay us a visit at 1797 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11212. And if you have diabetes or have its symptoms, come to us for diagnosis and treatment, we have the best endocrinologists and diabetes specialists to help you throughout the process.