Diabetes is a potentially life-threatening condition that affects over 400 million people worldwide. It can cause serious health complications, such as heart disease and stroke, if left unchecked. Fortunately, diabetes can be managed through proper medical care and lifestyle changes. Here are 12 truths about diabetes: what to know, what to avoid, what to eat, and what to take.
1. Know the Warning Signs: Early detection of diabetes is key to managing it successfully. Common signs of diabetes include increased thirst and urination, fatigue, blurred vision, and weight loss or gain. If you experience any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, get tested for diabetes.
2. Avoid Unhealthy Habits: Many unhealthy habits can increase your risk of getting diabetes, including overeating and eating unhealthy foods such as refined carbohydrates (white bread, etc.), saturated fats (butter), trans fats (margarine), added sugars (sodas) and processed meats (hot dogs). Instead, focus on healthy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins like fish or beans.
3. Eat Healthy: Eating a balanced diet that is relatively low in calories but high in nutrients will help you manage diabetes more effectively. Focus on adding fresh fruits and vegetables to every meal; aim for at least 5 servings per day. Be sure to choose whole over refined grains when possible; i.e. switch from white bread to whole wheat bread. Nuts are an excellent source of protein, helping you keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day. Try snacking on unsalted cashews or pistachios.
4. Take Medication Properly: To manage diabetes effectively, it’s important to take medication – whether oral medications or insulin injections – as prescribed by your doctor. Taking the right amount at the right time is essential for keeping blood sugar levels under control. Make sure your doctor is aware of any other medications that could interfere with diabetes treatment.
5. Monitor Blood Sugar Levels Regularly: Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels is ground zero for diabetes management. If levels remain consistently elevated, make adjustments without delay. Speak with your doctor about setting up a consistent monitoring schedule that works best for you.
6. Exercise Regularly: Exercise helps reduce insulin resistance while improving overall heart health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five times per week. If it works for you based on your needs and health status, even something as simple as walking can make a difference.
7. Get Enough Sleep: Adequate sleep is essential to managing diabetes. Poor sleep has been shown to worsen glycemic control and increase risk of microvascular and macrovascular complications. Aim for 7-8 hours each night, and avoid sleeping in later than normal on weekends, so circadian rhythms stay intact and don’t disrupt closely related metabolic processes like glucose metabolism and cortisol regulation.
8. Manage Stress Effectively: Stressful situations can destabilize blood sugar control, making it harder to manage diabetes properly. Try activities like yoga and meditation, which have been shown not only to reduce stress, but also to improve mental wellbeing. Light exercise during breaks between tasks may also help bring down stress hormones, allowing for better glucose metabolism.
9. Quit Smoking and Alcohol: Smoking increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, while drinking alcohol heavily has been linked to higher glycemic index values, making it harder to control blood sugar levels. Quitting smoking completely, although not necessarily cold-turkey, since that may present its own problems, and limiting alcohol intake is a perennial recommendation for people with diabetes.
10. Reduce Sodium Intake: Sodium is found in large quantities in many processed foods, and eating excessive amounts of it can lead you to develop insulin resistance and exacerbate existing glycemia-related issues. Try avoiding salty snacks, opt for low-salt recipes, embrace fresh herbs and spices instead of salt, and make a habit of choosing low-sodium options at the grocery store.
11. Use Herbs and Supplements. In addition to a healthy and balanced diet. Herbs such as cinnamon, fenugreek, ginseng, and Gymnema sylvestre have been found to help balance blood glucose levels in people with diabetes. Supplements such as chromium, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and alpha lipoic acid may also help improve diabetes symptoms by aiding with insulin resistance and cellular repair. As always, it’s crucial to consult your doctor before trying any herbal remedies or supplements, as they may interact with medications or cause other side effects. Diabetes symptoms can change rapidly and not all of the potential benefits of supplements have been conclusively proven.
12. Be Aware Of Complications From Diabetes: Diabetes increases the risk of developing a number of chronic conditions, including kidney disease, stroke, blindness – even amputations due to poor circulation. When you are aware of the state of your health, regular checkups can detect any potential side effects coming from uncontrolled glucose levels.