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Watch That Sugar: 6 Ways To Keep Your Diabetes In Check

Prof. Dr. M. Zaman Shaikh

4 min read

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It goes without saying that people who are prone to diabetes due to genetics or lifestyle choices, and those already suffering from it have to pay significant attention to their diet and lifestyle to keep their blood sugar in check given the fact that they are at a higher risk of suffering from a heart attack, kidney failure, chronic depression and several other life-threatening conditions.

According to the endocrinologists, here are a few ways to keep diabetes in check without giving up the joys of life.

1- Get Off That Couch

Physical activity is probably the most important one among all the ways to keep diabetes in check which are listed in this article. An active lifestyle is absolutely imperative as it will help lower blood sugar and simultaneously decrease chances of heart disease, stress and prevent serious complications by reducing body fat accumulation on muscles and organs such as the liver and pancreas.

The body can utilize the excess blood sugar as a fuel during workouts. A healthy amount of activity increases the body’s affinity to insulin, and effective insulin absorption means controlled blood sugar.

Chances are, a healthy amount of activity will keep your body weight in check as well, and since increased weight increases the risk of progressing to diabetes-2, exercise will combat that risk factor as well.

Intense workouts and gym sessions aren’t necessary though; you can keep active by just walking, cycling, doing basic exercises or playing simple sports for at least 30 minutes a day, 4-5 times a week.

Resistance training is a suggested method of prevention, for it can lead to increased muscle mass, which can then help lower blood glucose levels.

2- Keep Stress at Bay

It might seem odd to count stress management as one of the ways to keep diabetes in check but it is actually a very important strategy. Stress can put your body into a fight-or-flight mode, which elevates the levels of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, and this in turn can impact blood glucose levels, leading to raised blood pressure due to less or no insulin production if you are pre-diabetic or insulin-resistant. Various heart problems may also develop as a result.

An issue that can be caused due to the increased production of cortisol is a sizeable increase in appetite, often leading people to eat much more than they should. This may cause weight gain, which is again a risk factor leading to diabetes.

Take up a constructive hobby, do simple breathing exercises or yoga, and try to maintain a positive attitude. Talking with close friends and family can also help relieve stress.

3- Stop Smoking

Patients who smoke usually have high blood pressure and narrow blood vessels, exposing them to greater chances of heart, eye and kidney disease as well as nerve damage, foot problems and stroke. The risks are even higher for diabetics. This is because tobacco can increase blood glucose levels and insulin-resistance as well.Try consulting your doctor and adopting different strategies to kick nicotine addiction to the curb.

There are quite a few alternatives to smoking available today, such as nicotine patches for the skin and even oral nicotine pouches such as Velo that can substantially reduce the craving for a cigarette. Smoking induces inflammation in the body as a result of chemicals in cigarette smoke injuring cells, causing swelling and interfering with proper cell functionality.

When chemicals in the cigarette smoke combine themselves with oxygen in the body, they introduce oxidative stress, which can in turn cause damage to cells.

Contrary to the myth that smoking leads to a reduction in weight, it in fact causes an accumulation of abdominal or belly fat. Abdominal obesity is a risk factor for diabetes, for it leads to higher cortisol production, the damage caused by which has been discussed in the section above. People who smoke need higher levels of insulin to control blood glucose levels.

Diabetics who smoke have higher chances of developing other damaging health conditions, such as foot infections and ulcers, even amputation, as a result of restricted blood flow to the legs and feet, damaged nerves that may cause a lack of sensation, pain and poor motor coordination, heart and kidney disease and even retinopathy that may cause blindness.

4- Stick To Your Daily Routine

Never skip your prescribed medication, even on the days when everything feels normal. Check and record your blood sugar and blood pressure regularly and routinely observe your feet for any cuts, blisters spots or swelling- treating any bodily wound immediately- to avoid nerve damage, which if left untreated can lead to serious issues such as amputation.

Its best to consult an endocrinologist to help establish your daily routine. An essential part of an effective routine is getting ample amounts of sleep and rest.

A lack of sleep can cause cravings for carbohydrates and other foods loaded with sugars, because if you are tired, you will need to provide your body with energy through some other source. Sleep deprivation also decreases your motivation to exercise, in turn increasing the risk of weight gain and diabetes.

It also leads to a similar reaction in the body as insulin-resistance causes. There is no set amount of sleep that works for every individual. It can vary roughly from six hours on the lower end, to eleven hours on the higher end. Finding out how much sleep your body needs for you to feel rejuvenated in the morning is important.

5- Add Full-body Checkups To Your Calendar

Diabetics are at an increased risk of contracting a large number of diseases, making a quarterly (or monthly for advanced cases) visit to the Endocrinologist necessary to ensure proper bodily functions. Your Endocrinologist may recommend you to also consult additional specialists depending on your condition..

6- Switch Over To Diabetes Friendly Diet

Smart eating is key. Eat only as much as you need and incorporate fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and nonfat dairy to your daily diet. Filling up half your plate with fruits is ideal. Reduce the amount of sugary sweets and soft drinks in your diet.

Sweets and soft drinks form a huge part of Pakistani diets generally. Remember, a can of a typical soft drink contains at least eight full tablespoons of sugar. If you must have a soft drink, opt for a diet option instead. There is a variety of sugar-free sweets available as well.

They will not taste as appealing as sugary sweets at first, but you will acquire a taste for them soon enough if you continue consuming them as a replacement. Choose high-protein content snacks such as sugar free peanut butter-as it slows the glucose absorption rate and satisfies cravings-while foregoing products containing saturated or trans fats and high sugar or salt content.

Only 35-45 and 45-60 g of carbohydrates per meal are required for women and men respectively, so limit consumption of refined carbohydrates-present in white bread, pasta and rice-as well as soda and candy and focus on eating high-fiber complex carbohydrates as they are slow to digest and limit over-production of insulin. Introduce high-fibre whole grains to your diet, such as oats, millet, barley and brown rice.

Opt for a bigger breakfast-when glucose response is lowest-and small dinner portions to prevent spikes in glucose levels. It is highly recommended that you consult with a dietitian to help you develop a meal plan to maintain healthy blood sugar level in your body.

Living with diabetes isn’t always easy, and it is better to manage your diabetes with proper support from professionals. Visit oladoc.com now to Book an Appointment with a top Endocrinologist in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad or call our helpline at 042 3890 0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor to help you keep the adverse effects of Diabetes at bay, and help you lead a healthy life.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Prof. Dr. M. Zaman Shaikh - Author Prof. Dr. M. Zaman Shaikh is an Endocrinologist and diabetes specialist, based in Lahore. He helps patients in diabetes management, osteoporosis management, steroid hormone problems, and general men's health issues.
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