World Diabetes Day has arrived. With over 5 million diabetics in the Philippines, this figure shows how a large portion of the population are unaware of how they can effectively treat and prevent the occurrence of the disease. In line with the efforts of the International Diabetes Federation, it’s our duty as health care professionals to educate Filipinos on how they can stay healthy.
Just like any ailment, managing diabetes starts with your own actions. Here are some simple healthy habits that can be adopted to control diabetes.
1. Exercise at least 3 to 4 times a week
Physical activity will stabilize blood sugar levels. Exercising 3 to 4 times a week will help the body process insulin while boosting the mood and cognition. Other than controlling diabetes, being physically active can strengthen the heart, improve respiratory system, and help you cope one stress.
This can be challenging for people who are in a 9 to 5 work schedule. Hours of commute, stress from deadlines, and energy spent on tasks can get in the way of living a healthier life. Something as simple as walking 30 minutes a day and learning how one can stay fit in the workplace will also help maintain one’s health.
2. Observe a well-balanced diet
Diabetes is a disease that is primarily caused by unhealthy eating habits such as having excessive intake of sugar, pasta, and carbs in general. However, this does not mean that one should be deprived of enjoying delicious food. Monitoring calorie intake and following a well-balanced diet will help avoid the illness and its health complications.
Take some time to research on food and avoid those with high sugar content.
Food such as ampalaya (bitter gourd), chia seeds, greek yogurt, flax seeds, and broccoli are popularly known for lowering blood sugar levels. Knowing these will help provide healthier options when shopping for groceries or going out for dinner with friends and family.
3. Avoid sweetened beverages and soft drinks
Sweetened beverages and soft drinks can spike up blood sugar levels. Aside from regulating blood sugar, cutting them out of the diet will provide a number of short and long-term benefits. These include effectively losing weight, achieving better dental health, and even decreasing the risk of osteoporosis.
Opting for water and other zero-calorie drinks will always be the better choice. Other than maintaining one’s health, minimizing drinks packed in plastic bottles and tin cans will prove to be an economical and eco-friendly choice.
And yes, this also means avoiding soft drinks that have “zero sugar” labeled on them since there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that diet soda consumption is related to an increased risk of medical conditions such as heart disease, metabolic issues, and liver problems among others.
4. Minimize desserts
Dessert can be sweet, but a healthy life is a lot sweeter.
In line with maintaining a proper diet, take note that most desserts and sweets contain a higher number of calories, which is when consumed in excess can lead to obesity and an increased risk of diabetes. One scoop of strawberry ice cream already contains 254 calories and a slice of chocolate cake (without any frosting or toppings) can already go as high as 352 calories. Not to mention that the ingredients of different recipes may have different calorie levels.
Controlling your craving for something sweet can be a difficult task. Start slowly by looking for healthier alternatives such as fruits. To help you out, here are some dessert recipes for diabetics that you can try over the weekend.
5. Reduce stress
Stress can greatly affect both the physical and emotional well-being. Whenever one is stressed, the body will not release insulin and automatically store sugar and fat to have enough energy to last the day. Studies have shown that people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes have fluctuations in their blood sugar levels whenever they feel pressured or stressed.
Stress can also pave the way for toxic coping mechanisms. Smoking, excessive snacking, and binge drinking are some notorious examples – all of them will contribute to an elevated blood sugar level. If you’re feeling burnt out, writing your thoughts down, reading a book, and talking to a close friend are healthier ways to get through a tough time.
6. Quit smoking
Smoking is primarily known to cause respiratory and cardiovascular issues but it can also cause diabetes. Nicotine found in cigarettes can raise blood sugar levels and make the body more resistant to insulin. Other than making treatment difficult, diabetics that smoke have a higher chance of acquiring complications with their blood vessels, kidneys, and eyes.
7. Cut back on alcohol intake
Excessive consumption of alcohol can cause irregularities in blood sugar levels. Instead of regulating the blood sugar, the liver will shift its focus on eliminating the alcohol in the body. Especially if one has been consuming drinks mixed with soda and other sweeteners, the liver will have a difficult time performing two tasks at once and will be put at risk of a disease.
Before monitoring the blood sugar or taking any medication, wait for the alcohol to fully subside. Alcohol can drop blood sugar level and the results from the tests may not be as accurate.
8. Monitor your blood glucose level
Having your own capillary blood glucose monitoring (CBGM) kit is a must. The device is very easy to use and can be used without the help of another person. Once you’ve acquired the aid of a healthcare professional, take note of the instructions and follow the monitoring regimen strictly.
This will help track blood sugar levels throughout the day and will give some insight into your current condition.
9. Get proper diabetes treatment
As soon as you start to feel symptoms of the disease, consult with an expert immediately. If the condition is left undiagnosed, diabetes can lead to other serious illnesses such as blindness or gangrene that can greatly affect the quality of life. Be proactive in maintaining your health and proceed to a nearby medical center for proper diabetes treatment.
Live a Healthier Life
Dealing with diabetes must be taken seriously.
In line with this year’s theme of family and diabetes, it’s important to protect your loved ones by learning how to properly control the ailment. Especially if diabetes runs in the family, tweaking your habits early will greatly minimize the occurrence of acquiring it and save you a visit from a hospital’s section of endocrinology.
Live a healthier life today. Taking action now will not only minimize the risk of diabetes; it will pave the way for a healthier future and minimize the occurrence of other health complications.