The World Health Organization says that over 300 million people around the world are affected by diabetes mellitus. This number is rising because of the kind of lifestyle that we have and the types of food that we eat.
Living with diabetes mellitus can be challenging, but with proper education and discipline, an affected individual can still live a normal life. Here are some quality of life tips and pointers on diabetes management.
More than anything else, diet plays a significant role in controlling diabetes. But having diabetes mellitus doesn’t mean that you have to deprive yourself. You just need to be informed about better food choices and how much of each type you can consume.
A little “creativity” (healthy eating) will allow you to eat delicious meals that are not only good for your body; it will also keep your diabetes under control. A healthy diet will also mean that you are less likely to get diseases associated with too much intake of salt, oils, and trans fats, such as atherosclerosis, gallbladder stones, and certain cancers.
You don’t have to eliminate sugar completely. Let’s say you were invited to a special occasion like a wedding or birthday; you can still eat that delicious cake. Eating sweets once in a while is ok, as long as you’ve committed yourself to eating healthy.
Having too many carbohydrates in your diet can raise your blood sugar level. Lessen your intake of refined carbohydrates like white rice, pasta, white bread, sweet cereals, and cornflakes. Instead, try eating brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, rolled oats, and whole-wheat bread.
Cut back on soda drinks and artificial juices. Avoid drinks that contain the sweetener aspartame because it is being suspected of causing cancer. It may be low in calories, but there is a cloud of uncertainty regarding its adverse effects.
Avoid unhealthy fats, especially artificial trans fats. The main sources of trans fats in processed foods are partially hydrogenated oils. To be sure, check the list of ingredients on the food packaging.
Foods that contain trans fats include cookies, chips, crackers, waffles, cakes, baked goods, fried chicken, and French fries. The good news is that restaurant chains and food manufacturers are reducing the amount of trans fats in their products.
Be mindful of hidden sugars in foods that you eat. Some ingredients are not labeled as “sugar” but actually contain sugar. Some examples of these are corn syrup, fructose, maltose, lactose, and honey.
A vast majority of people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight. This fact highlights the importance of being active in preventing the illness, as well as in managing it. What are the benefits of being active? Here are just some of them:
Reduces the risk of having type 2 diabetes and heart disease
Helps the body utilize insulin better, lowering the blood sugar level in the process
Relieves anxiety and stress
Lowers the risk of having cancer
Helps you lose unwanted pounds
Types of exercise
Aerobics – combines stretching and cardiovascular exercise to improve overall physical fitness. The routine is composed of five components: warm up, cardiovascular conditioning, muscle conditioning, cool down, and stretching. You can do aerobics at home, or you can enroll in a gym where a fitness professional can help you with the exercise program.
Strength Training – improves muscle strength, increases bone density, and raises the level of HDL (good cholesterol) in the body. Various exercises and types of equipment are used to concentrate on a particular muscle group.
Flexibility exercises – enhance the range of motion of joints and muscles. Yoga is a popular example of this type of exercise. Benefits include improved agility and posture.
Type 1 Diabetes – For people with type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent), regular insulin injections are necessary. This can be done using an insulin pump, jet injector, or hypodermic needle. The diet should be closely monitored, especially the intake of carbohydrates. This way, fluctuations in the blood sugar level can be avoided.
If there is an imbalance between insulin and glucose intake, hyperglycemia (high levels of glucose in the blood) or hypoglycemia (low glucose levels in the blood) can occur. The symptoms of hyperglycemia are constant thirst, fatigue, frequent urination, and blurred vision.
On the other hand, hypoglycemia may cause dizziness, confusion, weakness, unconsciousness, and seizures. To prevent this, people who have type 1 diabetes are advised to check their blood sugar levels regularly.
Type 2 Diabetes – In type 2 diabetes (non-insulin-dependent), the pancreas produces some insulin, although in most cases, the amount is not sufficient. This condition can be controlled by regulating carbohydrate intake and taking small meals spaced out throughout the day.
This measure serves two purposes: to lower blood sugar and to reduce weight. If these measures are not enough, oral hypoglycemic drugs may be prescribed to control blood sugar levels (by helping the pancreas produce insulin).
Monitor your blood sugar level
Checking your blood sugar level is an essential part of diabetes management. Monitoring is needed so you can know the effect of your medications and whether your diet and exercise programs are working or not. I’m sure you will be glad if the reading shows a marked improvement.
Ways to test your blood sugar:
• Traditional monitoring – Using a lancet, (sharp needle), prick your finger and put the drop of blood on the test strip. Put the strip into the glucose meter. The results will appear in about 15 seconds. Glucose meters and test strips can be bought at your local pharmacy.
• Testing other parts of the body – Other devices check blood glucose level by testing other parts of the body such as the upper arm, forearm, thigh, and base of the thumb. The results from this procedure can be different compared to finger-prick tests. A person with low blood sugar is advised not to rely solely on this test.
• Continuous glucose monitoring – Also known as interstitial glucose measuring device, this system is usually combined with insulin pumps. It shows blood sugar level patterns over a period of time.
• Regular consultations with your doctor – Aside from checking blood sugar levels, the doctor will assess your overall health by knowing your medical history, eating and exercise habits, and by conducting a physical examination and laboratory evaluation.
• Having enough sleep – You can think of sleep as the body’s way of recharging and healing itself. Lack of sleep can raise the chance of having heart disease and high blood pressure.
• Managing stress – High levels of stress can cause hypertension, fatigue, headache, depression, and weaken the body’s immune system. Relaxation and better time management will help you deal with this problem.
• Family support system – People who have diabetes will benefit greatly from the moral support provided by the family. They can do this by helping a diabetic person stick to the regimen of taking medicines, having regular checkups, and eating healthy.
A person with diabetes can take note of these quality of life tips: eat healthy, be active, take your medicines, and monitor your blood sugar regularly. Diabetes management means regular consultations with your doctor, having enough sleep, managing stress, and having a strong family support system.