Diabetes mellitus (most commonly known as diabetes) is an endocrine condition that affects 415 million people worldwide. The main characteristic of diabetes is an inability to regulate the levels of glucose in the body. There are three main types of diabetes mellitus:
- Type 1 diabetes – this is an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks its own insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This causes the individual to lack adequate insulin to effectively regulate their blood sugar levels.
- Type 2 diabetes – this form of diabetes develops over the course of a person’s life. Although insulin is still produced in somebody with type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t respond to it properly.
- Gestational diabetes – this condition develops in women during pregnancy, often secondary to pre-diabetes. It can result in an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in the future and a higher birth weight.
Learning how to manage diabetes effectively is crucial to minimize its negative impacts on the body. Below, we’ve got some top tips for diabetics to manage their condition in the long term and minimize the risk of associated health complications.
How to Manage Diabetes Effectively
Although everybody is unique and the different types of diabetes require slightly different treatment protocols, there are some general steps that apply to all diabetics. Whether you have type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes, follow the steps below to stay healthy.
Make the most of diabetic aids
Thanks to developments in modern-day medicine, there are plenty of aids and tools out there that can make your life easier as a diabetic. Making the most of these aids will help to minimize your symptoms and support your body as much as possible.
If you struggle with poor circulation and swelling secondary to your diabetes, you can use shoes with arch support and compression stockings to improve blood flow to your extremities.
You can also invest in technologies that make monitoring your blood glucose levels easier, such as glucose monitors and test strips.
Continual glucose monitors (CGMs) measure your blood sugar levels all day and night, so you can check your glucose at any time. CGMs allows you to see which foods and activities cause your blood glucose to rise and fall, allowing you to make positive changes to better support your body.
Be consistent with your medications
As a diabetic, you might be on a number of medications to help with the regulation of your blood sugar levels.
The most common medication is metformin, which acts on your liver to lower the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. You may also have special creams, moisturizers, and other skincare products to reduce the risk of ulcers and dry skin.
It’s important to stay on top of your medications to prevent your health complications from worsening. Always follow the guidance of your doctor or community nurse and don’t be afraid to raise your concerns and queries if you’re unsure of anything.
Consume healthy carbohydrates
When you have diabetes, you need to pay particular attention to your carbohydrate intake more than any other macronutrient. This is because carbohydrates influence your blood glucose levels more than fats or proteins.
Being diabetic doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy carbohydrates! It just means that you need to be a little more careful with your dietary choices. Try to choose complex carbohydrates over simple sugars, as they won’t cause a rapid increase in your blood glucose levels.
Complex carbohydrates include oats, whole meal pasta, rice, buckwheat, cous cous, beans, and legumes. You can still eat simple sugars occasionally but keep a close eye on your blood glucose levels if you do so.
Manage your weight
Weight management is important for everybody but it’s particularly important if you have diabetes. Carrying a high amount of body fat can decrease your sensitivity to insulin, making it harder for your body to control your blood sugar levels.
By maintaining a healthy weight, you can support your body and reduce the risk of diabetes-associated health conditions, such as hypertension, edema, and heart disease.
Studies have shown that if you are overweight, decreasing your body fat percentage by just 5% can significantly reduce the risk of diabetes complications.
Eating a healthy and nutritious diet, avoiding overconsumption of calories, and exercising regularly will help with weight management. Consider contacting a professional dietician or nutritionist if you need expert support and guidance.