Diabetes is a condition that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels in your body to rise higher than normal. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps keep your blood sugar level from getting too low or too high. There are three types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes. The most common type of diabetes is type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin properly. This state is called insulin resistance. At first, to overcome this shortcoming, your pancreas makes extra insulin. But over time the organ fails to make enough insulin for keeping your blood sugar at normal levels. High blood glucose levels can hurt your kidneys, eyes, nerves or heart.
Some individuals are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than others. Some people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose levels with healthy eating, regular exercise, and other healthy lifestyle habits. Here are top tips to stay healthy with type 2 diabetes.
1. Healthy Eating
Some foods can influence your blood sugar more than others. You should eat properly to manage diabetes and keep your blood glucose levels in your target range.
A person with diabetes should follow a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and healthy fats. In our digestive system, a group of organs works together to convert food into carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Follow a balanced diet and consume the right amount of each of these three nutrients. Also limit your intake of processed foods, sodium, refined carbs, saturated fat and trans fats.
All You Need to Know about Carbohydrates
Our body needs carbohydrates for energy, but too many carbs are not good because carbs can quickly raise your blood sugar. Major sources of carbs include grains, bread, pasta, milk, sweets, starchy vegetables and fruits. Carbohydrates can increase your blood sugar levels because they are easily broken down into glucose than other nutrients. So balance your consumption of carbs with protein and fat. Also, choose foods rich in fiber, because it will help slow the rise in blood glucose levels after eating. The amount of carbs you need depends, among many other things, on how active you are and what medications you take. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), consuming 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal is a good place to start.
Tips to choose carbohydrates:
- Take whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa
- Limit the intake of refined grains, such as white bread, white pasta, white rice and sugary cereals
- Consume whole fruit instead of drinking juice
- Take non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, leafy greens, and cauliflower
- Avoid sugary drinks like soda
How to Eat Healthy
Here is a new method for eating right. Non-starchy vegetables include leafy greens, carrots, and broccoli. Fill one-half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables. Divide the other half into two and fill the one with a lean protein source and the second with an appropriate portion of whole grains or starchy foods like quinoa, brown rice, corn, or potatoes. Lean protein sources include chicken, fish, and turkey. Finish your meal with a serving of dairy or fruit – or both, if your diet plan permits.
A healthy snack may help you avoid overeating at your next meal. Some smart snack options are no-salt mixed nuts, a veggie-based smoothie, and hard-boiled egg.
To keep your blood glucose levels under control, incorporate exercise into your diabetes management plan.
Simple Ways to Stay Active
You don’t want to work out hard every day to stay active. You can do a lot of simple things to stay active. Here are some suggestions:
- Go for a walk
- Hold a standing meeting at work
- Use the stairs instead of elevators
- Do chores, such as cleaning, organizing, etc. at a brisk pace
- Use bicycle instead of motor vehicles
Some examples for aerobic exercise or cardiovascular exercise include brisk walking, jogging, dancing, and swimming. Aerobic exercise improves your heart and lungs functions. Regular exercise can help you lower blood sugar. Endocrinologists recommend 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five days a week.
You can also rely on strength training. Hit the gym, lift weights and do body weight exercises like lunges, squats, and push-ups. Strength training will help you lose weight and improve insulin sensitivity by directing excess glucose to the muscles. Experts recommend doing strength training at least two days a week.
You might find it difficult to stick to your fitness routine. Here are some ways to stay motived to exercise as part of type 2 diabetes management:
- Team up. Find a workout partner and he/she can help you stay committed to fitness.
- Find a smart fitness trainer and he/she will help you learn about proper weight training techniques.
- Use your leisure time. You can plan a bicycle ride or go for a hike.
3. Lifestyle Habits
Your lifestyle plays a significant role in determining your quality of health. With a healthy lifestyle, you can manage type 2 diabetes. Follow the tips blow.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity and overweight increase a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Obesity and overweight also make it harder to manage type 2 diabetes. Eating healthy and regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight.
Find Ways to Fight Stress
When you’re stressed, your body discharges hormones that can raise blood sugar. So reduce stress; consider meditation, yoga, listening to relaxing music, or talking to a therapist. Also, get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
Regular medical exams can help you know how your lifestyle habits and medications are affecting your blood sugar levels. Also, improve your lifestyle habits based on the test results.
Here are some of the check-ups you need:
- Your blood pressure, your weight, and feet checked at every doctor’s visit
- An A1C test (a standard blood test to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes) every three to six months
- A dental test every six months
- A cholesterol exam once a year
- An eye test once a year
- A complete foot exam once a year
- A urine test to check for albumin – to identify the risk of developing kidney disease – once a year
Monitor Your Blood Glucose
Keep track of your blood sugar levels. The regular check-ups will help you evaluate how diet, exercise, and other factors affect your blood glucose levels. Take advice from your doctor on when and how often you should test. Also, you may find clues (for some people blood sugar decreases after exercise, for others blood sugar increases after consuming a type of food) to improve your diabetes treatment.