The first aim of anyone with diabetes would be to look at improving their health and maintaining an enhanced level of physical and emotional well-being on a long-term basis, all of which should be achieved via a healthy diet, sufficient exercise, keeping abreast of medical developments for diabetes and seeking professional advice from a trusted health care professional when necessary.
A healthy diet is essential for those with Diabetes
Keeping a food diary is an excellent way a person with diabetes can stay on track of their medically recommended diet, avoid any pitfalls and thus enhance their quality of life. Of equal importance is reading food labels and while this is advisable for most people, for anyone with diabetes it is particularly essential so they can balance their diets wisely. As well as eating carefully, people with diabetes also need to be particularly mindful as to their drinking habits too, which includes ruling out sugary beverages that can ruin an otherwise well thought out diet plan. When looking at their diet, diabetics should consider eating for health in general and not merely to control their diabetes. Therefore, a dietary regime that would promote health in all individuals is very much called for, which includes:
- three to five portions of vegetables per day;
- two to four servings of fruit per day;
- two to three servings of fish, meat and cheese per day;
- six (at least) servings of whole grains, starchy vegetables such as unrefined potatoes, noodles and beans per day. People with diabetes do need to limit their consumption of cereals and bread, entirely avoiding those made from white flour and opting for low sodium types at all times;
- two to three servings of yoghurt and milk per day, although milk consumption may need to be restricted due to its naturally occurring sugars, making medical advice necessary in this regard and a doctor’s recommendations sought where possible milk alternatives are concerned;
- up to eight glasses of fluid every day, tap water is the best option but coffee, tea, mineral water and soda (unflavoured types) are permitted as long as prior medical approval has been obtained;
- small amounts of alcohol, sweets and fats are acceptable but again, only under a doctor’s advice;
- snacks, wherever possible, need to be healthy ones such as a small portion of nuts, carrots with hummus, a small serving of yoghurt or an average size piece of fresh fruit. For those with a sweet tooth, diabetic confectionery is readily available both on the high street and online;
- any dietary condiments should be both sugar-free and have low sodium content.
All people with diabetes need to be aware that their diets will need to be reviewed on occasion. Therefore, anyone with diabetes should maintain regular contact with their medical adviser to keep abreast of dietary changes and be alerted to any new nutritional findings which may assist their condition and thus allow them to lead a healthier and fuller life.
Exercise is vital for reducing blood sugar levels
Regular exercise is as essential for people with diabetes as it is for anyone else and shorter periods of exercising can be as equally effective as longer ones. In fact, research has revealed that diabetics who take three short walks, one after each meal, can reduce their blood sugar levels within a 24 hour period just as effectively as those who walk at an equally moderate pace for 45 minutes once per day. It is essential that people with diabetes, just like other individuals, enjoy their daily exercise regime but should excess weight or pain in the joints prevent this, then water assisted exercises, under medical recommendation, such as aqua aerobics, should be of considerable benefit.
Medication, Record Keeping and Blood Glucose and Insulin measurements
Medication should be taken as directed at all times and never be skipped as this could only lead to unnecessary health complications. Furthermore, diabetics need to be aware that medication, along with other drugs, alcohol, food and supplements can and do interact. It is, therefore, essential that those with diabetes seek clear medical advice as to what they should and should not be taking alongside their medication.
Diabetics need to have their blood glucose and insulin levels recorded and updated on a regular basis for medical observation and further recommendation on how they can remain healthy while effectively managing their disease.
Sufficient Sleep is vital for Diabetics
People with diabetes need between six to eight hours of quality sleep at night which can help to reduce problems such as elevated blood sugar levels while improving blood pressure. For diabetics who have problems sleeping, however, then chlorpheniramine maleate, an antihistamine which causes drowsiness without elevating blood pressure may prove beneficial. For those who prefer a natural approach, however, then Valerian, a particularly relaxing herb, could be of great benefit where experiencing a good night’s sleep is concerned. Nevertheless, self-medication is not recommended as anyone with diabetes should seek medical guidance with regards to any over the counter drugs and herbal or vitamin supplements designed to aid the quality and duration of their sleeping hours.
Have a Support System in Place
Anyone with diabetes needs to explain to those in their family circle and network of friends the seriousness of being diabetic and the sheer impact it can have on their lives. By doing so, they should receive more support, understanding and practical input with regards to the management of their condition, while gaining an overall sense of emotional well-being knowing they are not alone in the care of it. Secondary to that, joining a support group for diabetics is highly recommended, both to make new friends and share information as to how diabetes can be effectively managed and thus lead a healthier and happier life as a result. Furthermore, having a good support system in place can help alleviate depression which sadly, many people with diabetes do tend to suffer from.
Be Aware of Possible Health Complications
Having diabetes can, indeed, lead to other health complications ranging from stroke, kidney and heart disease, eye problems, gum disease, nerve damage, feet and skin conditions, depression (as outlined above) and gastroparesis (a chronic stomach condition). However, knowledge of what could go wrong and to recognise potential complications early enough should be seen as empowering insomuch as the diabetic can seek medical advice soon enough to prevent further health issues arising.