Diabetes is a serious health condition, and needs to be closely monitored in order to avoid further health complications. High blood sugar levels can lead to chronic issues such as eye problems, heart attacks, strokes, kidney problems, and nerve damage, which, when left untreated, can sometimes lead to permanent damage. Some people also suffer from acute complications, such as hypos or hypers, hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state (HHS), or even diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
Fortunately, these conditions aren’t inevitable – by carefully managing your diabetes and creating a healthy, balanced lifestyle, you can reduce your risk of complications. But what areas should you be focusing on? In this post, we share some key advice that may help to keep you healthy for longer.
We all know that a well-balanced diet is essential for everyone, but for people with diabetes, it’s particularly important to focus on keeping a healthy weight, reducing the amount of glucose attached to your haemoglobin, reducing your blood pressure and decreasing cholesterol. This will help keep your blood sugar levels in an appropriate range.
Experts suggest that diabetics focus on including the following in their diets:
You’ll also want to ensure that you eat at regular intervals to help your body use your insulin more effectively.
Being active is a great way to boost your mood, help you stay fit and healthy, and manage weight. But for people with diabetes, exercise also means that your body becomes more sensitive to insulin, meaning that it can process it better. This helps you manage your condition.
Exercise can also help control your blood sugar levels, lowering the risk of complications such as heart disease and nerve damage. Additionally, with a regular exercise routine, your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels should reduce, and your HDL (good) cholesterol levels should increase, helping your overall health.
Evidence suggests that active and passive smoking are both risk factors for type 2 diabetes, with regular smokers showing a 15-30% increased risk of developing the condition. This is because smoking causes oxidative stress and inflammation in the body, which decreases the effectiveness of the insulin, as well as causing cell damage.
So, not only is smoking bad in general, but if you already have diabetes, this unhealthy habit may increase the chances of you developing a chronic condition in addition.
It’s tempting to put a good night's rest low down on the priority list in a busy world, but a lack of sleep actually increases insulin resistance in diabetics and makes you feel hungrier the next day. Over time, it may increase your risk of developing a complication, as your blood sugar levels will be higher. Even one night’s bad sleep can increase your sugar levels, so make sure that you prioritize getting at least seven hours of sleep as often as possible.
As we’ve discussed, there are several ways you can manage your diabetes and decrease the risk of developing a complication or additional chronic condition. The main takeaway is that creating a healthy routine is one of the best things you can do – whilst that shouldn’t remove spontaneity in your life, keeping things regular where possible may help your body.
Thank you Oliver Whitmer for contributing this article.