Outsmarting a diagnosis of diabetes may seem daunting but it’s not impossible. Yes, you may have blood sugars level higher than normal but with some lifestyle tweaks practiced consistently and with self-discipline, you can better manage the disease. Remember, you are in control of your diabetes, not the diabetes itself.
Diabetes impact on health
Diabetes continues to be an epidemic in the United States. Currently, 34 million Americans have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes while another 88 million adults – approximately one in three – have prediabetes and most don’t know it – yet. This disease can result in numerous complications affecting a person from head to toe. These complications can range from diabetic retinopathy affecting your vision, heart disease, chronic kidney disease that may lead to kidney dialysis, and neuropathy or poor circulation affecting your feet and hands.
This disease revolves around the ability of your pancreas to produce sufficient insulin, a hormone that helps move the sugar glucose out of your blood and into your cells. But for those with type 2 diabetes, the cells have become unresponsive to insulin referred to as insulin resistance. When left unchecked, blood sugar levels continue to rise causing significant long-term damage to small blood vessels and nerves that lead to serious complications.
Take charge today
Even if you have type 2 diabetes, you CAN make lifestyle changes making a huge impact on achieving better blood sugar control. If you have a diagnosis of prediabetes, NOW is the time to tweak lifestyle habits helping stabilize your blood sugar to slow down or prevent it from becoming type 2 diabetes.
Here are 4 ways you can outsmart type 2 diabetes helping lower blood sugar levels slowing down its progression over time:
1. Plan healthy meals
In the past, eating plans for people with diabetes were very restrictive. Things are different now. There isn’t a one-size-fits all diabetes diet anymore.
While changes in what and how much you eat are likely recommended, you have flexibility in deciding what’s on your plate. With a little planning, you can still include your favorite foods. A good place to begin is with the Plate method. Focus on filling half of your plate with more vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, green beans, carrots, spinach and other nonstarchy veggies. Have a dark, leafy green salad everyday filling half your plate topped with tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms and other healthy toppings. Fill the other half of your plate with a 3-4 ounce portion of protein such as lean beef, chicken, or fatty fish. Fill the other quarter of your plate with a healthy starch such as corn, potatoes, or beans.
2. Keep moving
Being physically active is another part of living healthy and managing diabetes. Any form of physical activity creates a demand soaking up excess glucose in the bloodstream. Other benefits of exercise include having more energy, relieving stress, keeping joints flexible, lowering your risk of heart disease, and feeling healthier overall.
Aerobic activity is important for keeping your heart and bones strong, helping insulin work better and improving blood flow. If you’ve been inactive for some time, start slowly and add minutes as you are able. Start out with 5 or 10 minutes a day adding more time each week working towards between 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week.
Reducing the amount of time sitting or being still is important for everyone. Set your alarm to get up and stretch or walk around in the morning or walk to work if able. Other ways to be more active include working in the garden, playing with your kids or grandkids, walk around while talking on the phone, and park at the far end of a parking lot and walk.
3. Keep stress under control
Everyone deals with feelings in different ways. Oftentimes we may not know why we feel stressed. Start by thinking about the reasons for your stress. Things that cause stress (stressors) may be part of everyday life, but they can make it harder to manage your diabetes.
Here are some ways to better manage stress:
- Keep track of what makes you feel stressed. Write it down what the stress is, how it made you feel and how you handled those feelings. Did you handle it by eating not-so-healthy foods or by taking a long walk or talking to a friend? Use these notes to remember the things that made you feel better.
- Stay away from activities or events that are stressful. Say “no” when things get to be too much. If you have to do those things, wait until you feel ready to handle them.
- Don’t work too hard or do too many things. Save some time for yourself every day.
4. Lose weight if overweight or obese
There’s no debate about it – a 5% to 10% weight loss will lower your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, decrease stress on your hips, knees, ankles, and feet, increase energy, and brighten your mood. Every extra pound you lose over your ideal body weight can significantly improve your health. Studies have shown that people who lost 7% of their initial weight reduced risk of developing diabetes by 60%.
To help you succeed at weight loss, work closely with your doctor or a registered dietitian providing specific advice and recommendations as you tackle this important part of managing your diabetes.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.