It’s hard to be positive when your doctor says those dreaded words – “You have diabetes”. Fast paced lifestyle, increasing reliance on processed foods, lack of proper nutrition owing to socio-economic situation and physical inactivity is creating an alarming health situation for our present generation. WORLD DIABETES DAY is celebrated annually on November 14 in response to the growing concerns about the escalating health threat posed by the disease. On this day, I thought of writing some important ways to combat it. The more you learn about it, the more confident you will become and the easier it will be to manage diabetes.
LEARN ABOUT DIABETES
Controlling diabetes is a serious challenge but you can learn to manage it. First step is to understand what diabetes is.
Most of the food you eat is converted into glucose or sugar, for your body to use as energy. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps the glucose get into the cells of your body. But when your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or cannot use its insulin effectively, the sugar builds up in the blood and over time causes damage to vital organs of the body and nerves. This is Diabetes !!
MAKE HEALTHY FOOD CHOICES
A healthy diet is a proven weapon in the fight against diabetes because once you have got diabetes, your food choices matter a lot. The idea is to prevent blood sugar spiking. This calls for choosing foods that are low in calories and avoiding refined, high-glycemic foods, plus opting for frequent mini meals. Let’s have a brief look :
- Choose whole grain foods ( like whole wheat flour, brown bread, brown rice etc.) instead of processed grain products ( like white breads, white rice, french fries, regular pasta etc.)
- Focus on having Non-Starchy Vegetables ( like carrots, lettuce, spinach, kale, beans etc.) and avoid canned vegetables with lots of added sodium and stop cooking your veggies in added butter, cheese or sauce. Opt for fresh fruits instead of canned fruits which are loaded with high sugar syrups.
- Avoid munching on anything fried or sweet. Chips, Namkeen, Cookies, Cakes, Pastries and all the Fast food items are loaded with refined carbs, trans fats and sodium which are considered unhealthy in diabetes.
- Go for low fat milk and its products rather than having full cream milk.
Basically the key is to have a balanced meal. Eat small portions. Learn what a serving size is for different foods and how many servings you need in a meal. Strictly avoid skipping your breakfast as it can cause spike in blood sugar level. It can also lead to overeating later and can cause weight gain which is a big risk factor of diabetes.
INDULGE IN PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES
Sedentary lifestyle is indeed a killer and promotes diabetes. Several studies have shown that being obese can increase the risk of diabetes. This is because extra weight induces resistance to the effects of insulin while vigorous physical activities help insulin to work effectively. Exercise increases the rate at which glucose in the blood is taken up by the muscle cells. Apart from controlling Blood Sugar, it helps in controlling Weight, B.P., as well as raises your good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol. Just take out 30 minutes and make these simple lifestyle changes in your daily routine and control diabetes.
- Go for a brisk walk or indulge in any form of sports like swimming, tennis etc.
- Park your car away from your destination.
- Take the stairs, instead of elevator or escalator.
- Walk around everytime you talk on phone.
- Play with kids or take your dog for a walk.
- Some researches has linked Diabetes to TV viewing habits. Every 2 hours spent watching TV increases the chances of developing Diabetes by 20%. The more TV people watch, the more likely they are to be overweight. So next time instead of using remote, make sure to get up from your seat and change the channel yourself everytime you watch your favourite TV Serial. Walk around the room during commercials.
Adequate physical activity has an overall effect on the body of diabetic patients which no medicine can match. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids in between since blood glucose can be affected by dehydration.
MAINTAIN HEALTHY BODY WEIGHT
Nearly 50% of all diabetics are overweight. Hypersecretion of insulin ( to match the spiking blood sugar) causes weight gain. Weight loss improves insulin sensitivity and glucose utilization.
People who carry most of their fat in their belly (apple shape) are more prone to Type 2 Diabetes than those with fat mostly on the buttocks and thighs (pear shape). Sugary foods are highly responsible for the belly fat. So if you want to manage diabetes, avoid such foods and move your body to stay in shape. Experts say, if you shed just 5% to 10% of your body weight, it can help improve your blood sugar level.
Chronic stress and depression can send Blood Sugar Level soaring. Divert your mind and try different relaxation techniques to beat stress. Indulge in meditation, try yoga and deep breathing exercises. Go for a walk or work on your hobbies like gardening or listen to your favourite music track.
Resist being a loner and spend quality time with your friends and family who listen to your concerns and may help you feel better. Make sure to get a sound sleep because not getting enough sleep can worsen Type 2 Diabetes.
Keep the Blood Sugar Levels within a specified target range. Maintaining a healthy range is your best defence to reduce the chances of developing complications from diabetes. Regular testing and recording of your blood glucose level will let you know how your lifestyle, food choices and medication, if used, are making a difference.
Accurate, convenient and easy-to-use glucose metres have revolutionised diabetes management. They encourage a good control over diet (you can see results almost immediately).
There is one other test called A1c. It is a blood test that measure your average blood sugar over the past 3 months. This test is quite different from your regular blood sugar tests and it should be done twice a year.
NEVER NEGLECT MEDICINES
Don’t forget to take medicines. Take them even if you feel good. Certain drugs to treat other conditions like high blood pressure and cholesterol may affect your blood glucose level. So always check with your doctor before taking any medicines.
Diabetes is the storehouse of numerous complications, brought upon by the long term effects of diabetes and obesity. With the correct treatment and recommended lifestyle changes, many people with diabetes are able to prevent or delay the onset of complications. Consistently high blood glucose levels can lead to serious diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, nerves and teeth.
- Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely than people without diabetes to die of heart disease or experience a stroke.Protect your heart and maintain healthy Blood Glucose, B.P. and Cholesterol level. Avoid Smoking, Quit Alcohol, Be physically more active and Choose healthy diet (low in salt). Check your B.P. at every doctor’s visit and get your Cholesterol checked once a year. (Read : Cholesterol : Is it GOOD or BAD ?)
- Check your feet daily for any cuts, cracks, sores, red spots or ingrown toenails, any pain or lack of sensation. Protect your feet from extreme heat and cold.
- Brush your teeth twice a day and don’t forget to floss atleast once a day. Keep any dentures clean. Get your dental check up done in case of red, sore or bleeding gums or if there is any possible tooth infection.
- Because diabetic eye disease may develop without symptoms, regular eye exams are important for finding problems early. Diabetic retinopathy, potential vision loss and cataract are some of the common problem in diabetes. So be sure to tell your eye specialist if you notice any signs of vision changes.
Diabetic Neuropathy and Nephropathy are some of the other major complications. Prevention must become your priority so manage diabetes by keeping your blood glucose (blood sugar) under control, eating healthy, being physically active, working with your healthcare professional to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control, and getting necessary screening tests.
If you have any queries or would like to share something, please feel free to write here below in the comments !!