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The Keys to Diabetes Management

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The state of diabetes in the United States today is serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 29 million Americans have diabetes and one in four individuals do not even know they have diabetes. Additionally, 86 million adults have prediabetes. This condition identifies when an individual’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. Without proper weight management and exercise, 15 percent to 30 percent of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.

While these statistics are somber, there are a number of steps you can take to better manage your diabetes or help a loved one who has been diagnosed with diabetes to have a satisfactory quality of life.

How can I better manage my diabetes?

1. Count your carbs: A key part of managing diabetes is learning how to accurately count carbohydrates in every meal, drink, and snack. According to the Mayo Clinic, carbs often have the biggest impact on blood sugar levels. If you take insulin, it is crucial to know the amount of carbohydrates in your food so you take the proper dose of insulin. While carbs are an important part of everyone’s diet, make sure the carbs you choose are “good carbs,” such as fruits and vegetables in every meal and are balanced properly. Not all carbohydrates are equal. Carbohydrates from an apple are not the same as carbs from a bagel. It is important to understand the difference and know how to plan healthy meals.

2. Reduce your risk factors: Another part of diabetes management is reducing cardiovascular disease related risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and tobacco use. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smokers are 30 percent to 40 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-smokers. Make sure you maintain clear lines of communication with your medical team about your risk factors and how you can lower them. By doing so, you will feel in control and be able to better respond to your changing needs. You will be able to control your diabetes instead of your diabetes controlling your life.

3. Watch your sugar intake: Sugar-sweetened beverages tend to be high in calories and offer little in the way of nutrition. Since these drinks can cause blood sugar to rise quickly, it is best to avoid these types of drinks whenever possible. Sugar beverages include those sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and sucrose, so make sure to read those labels! Drinks such as water, seltzer, and unsweetened teas are all good substitutes for sweetened beverages.

4. Get moving! Talk to your physician about developing a complete exercise plan. Exercise is an important part of overall health for everyone and can have a great impact on managing diabetes. Most adults should exercise at least 30 minutes each day on most days of the week. But don’t start any exercise plan without consulting your doctor first. If you have been inactive for a long time, your doctor may want to check your overall health before developing an exercise plan for you. Based on your physical, you and your doctor can develop an appropriate exercise plan. What is most important is to start your plan and stick to it! Remember that a successful exercise regimen is about consistency. It will take time before you see any results. Make sure to check in your doctor regularly on you progress so the two of you can discuss your progress and make any adjustments that are required.

Conclusion

Diabetes is a serious disease. People with diabetes are at increased risk for serious health complications which can include vision loss, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, amputation of extremities, and even premature death. It can be well managed, however, through physical activity, diet, and appropriate use of insulin and other medications to keep blood sugar levels safe. What is most important is to learn as much as possible about your complete diabetes picture so you and your medical team can work together to develop a solid plan that includes healthy lifestyle choices.

Staff Writer, Julie Cowan, RN, BSN