Diabetes is a disease that occurs when blood sugar is too high. Blood sugar is the main source of energy and comes from food. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps glucose from food enter cells to be used for energy. Sometimes the body does not produce enough insulin or does not use insulin well. Thus, glucose rises in the blood and cannot be transferred to the cell.
Over time, excess glucose in the blood can cause health problems. While there is no cure for diabetes, there are solutions for managing diabetes and staying healthy.
Sometimes people refer to diabetes as “a touch of sugar” or “borderline diabetes.” These terms indicate that someone does not really have diabetes or has a less serious case, but every case of diabetes is serious.
Different types of diabetes
The most common types of diabetes are type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes
If you have type 1 diabetes, your body does not produce insulin. Your immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. Although type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, it is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day to survive.
Type 2 diabetes
If you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well. You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood. However, this type of diabetes occurs most often in middle-aged and older people. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes.
Gestational diabetes develops in some women when they are pregnant. Most of the time, this type of diabetes goes away after the baby is born. However, if you have gestational diabetes, you have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Sometimes diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy is actually type 2 diabetes.
10 Dos and Don’ts for Managing Diabetes
1. DO Check Blood Sugar Daily
Regular checking of blood sugar allows you to understand how your body responds to food, stress, exercise and more. “Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to improving your blood sugar control,” says Zanini. It is recommended to check blood sugar before meals and two hours after the first bite of food. You can also check your blood sugar after exercise and when you feel stressed to better understand your body’s response to different conditions.
2. DON’T Forget To Eat More Protein
“Eating sources of refined carbohydrates without adding a protein source can cause blood sugar to spike,” says Zanini, which can lead to diabetes-related complications. Work with a dietitian to determine your carbohydrate-to-protein ratio for each meal and snack. Plant-based proteins such as beans and lentils, as well as lean poultry, fish and eggs, should be preferred in the daily diet.
3. DO Work Closely With Your Doctor
You should cooperate with your doctor to make life easier with diabetes, which is a chronic disease. In addition to trusting your friends and family, consult your healthcare team if you have questions. Write down questions you want to ask your doctor, bring your blood sugar diary, and be honest about your behavior and concerns.
4. DON’T Give Up Carbohydrates Completely
Carbohydrates aren’t bad, but it’s important to focus on eating them in moderation at regular times throughout the day, Zanini says. “Realize that carbohydrates aren’t only found in bread, pasta, and rice.” Even foods like non-fat dairy, fruit, and vegetables — especially potatoes, green peas, and corn — all contain carbohydrates, so be sure to keep track.
5. DO Indulge In Favorite Treats On Occasion
Do not completely give up your favorite foods, plan their amount. “Trying to live without your favorite foods leads to feelings of deprivation that can undermine your efforts and resolution,” says Weisenberger.
6. DON’T Forget To Drink Water
“Water is essential,” says Zanini. Proper hydration helps dilute our blood, which helps lower blood sugar. Even mild dehydration can affect your blood sugar levels. Keep a refillable bottle with you to drink and refill throughout the day. If the taste is too plain, add a slice of lemon or lime for flavor.
7. DO Limit Stress
Stress causes the body to produce more sugar that builds up in the cells. Zanini says chronic stress can hinder optimal blood sugar control, and you’re less likely to take care of your body when you’re stressed. To help reduce stress, try meditating regularly and practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive relaxation, and positive self-talk.
8. DON’T Give Up Exercise
Zanini says getting regular aerobic exercise can help you lose weight and lower your blood sugar for hours on end. You can also add strength training to your daily workouts. “Strength training improves insulin sensitivity at least as much as cardiovascular exercise,” says Weisenberger. “It’s best to engage with both, because their sum is greater than either alone.” You can opt for resistance exercises such as lifting light weights at least twice a week on non-consecutive days.
9. DO Give Up Smoking
If you have diabetes, smoking worsens disease control and causes problems with medication dosages, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It also puts you at increased risk for significant complications, from circulatory problems to heart and kidney disease to eye and nerve damage. Refraining from smoking can promote better health and better blood sugar control. “Seek out smoking cessation resources or ask for help from your doctor to create a support system to help you stop smoking,” Zanini says.
10. DON’T Let Diabetes Control Your Life
Do not neglect your health, you must accept diabetes and learn to deal with it. “Caring for yourself is empowering,” says Weisenberger. “Words have power. Instead of saying, ‘I can’t have this,’ say ‘I choose not to have this'”.