Diabetes is one of the most prevalent diseases today with almost 40 million people suffering from it worldwide. Additionally, over 90 million people have prediabetes and problems with their weight, obesity, and body mass index.
Controlling diabetes has become a crucial issue in the medical industry, with experts and medical institutions coming up with new and alternative treatments to help prolong the lives of those diagnosed with diabetes and potentially put it in remission by continuously reducing their blood sugar levels.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when your body cannot produce insulin any longer, having you rely on outside sources to control your blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas with the role of controlling and regulating your blood sugar, the rate of sugar excretion, and its storage.
When your insulin production is impaired or stopped, your body cannot process the sugars getting broken down from carbohydrates which causes a rise in your blood sugar levels. This is also known as hyperglycemia. Having your blood sugar levels elevated for a short period of time is a normal condition, especially in situations when you eat a high-carb or sugar-filled meal, but after a short while, your body is supposed to figure out how much is getting stored and how much will stay in your bloodstream to be used for immediate energy release.
When your blood sugar levels stay elevated for a long period of time and your body doesn’t regulate it, it turns into a chronic condition that can cause permanent damage to your organs, blood vessels, and tissues over time.
Types of Diabetes
There are two main types of diabetes with the addition of gestational diabetes which may occur during pregnancy:
- Diabetes Type 1 – is a form of diabetes you’re usually born with or shows up in early childhood. It can show up later as well, but it’s not as common. Diabetes Type 1 occurs when your body produces little to no insulin and you need to rely on insulin injections for the rest of your life. It’s caused by an autoimmune condition that develops due to genetics and environmental factors, and it has no cure.
- Diabetes Type 2 – is the more common type of diabetes we encounter on the daily basis. It’s caused by poor lifestyle choices and a nutrient-scarce diet that supports inflammation and weight gain. In this case, your body may produce insulin, but its role and function are completely impaired and it’s unable to regulate your blood glucose levels. In most cases, it can be managed by keeping a healthy diet and increasing physical activity, but if the condition turns into a more severe phase, oral medication and insulin injections might be necessary. The goal is to, of course, not reach that phase and help keep your blood sugar under control.
- Gestational diabetes – is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy when you have high blood sugar levels. It usually goes away after you give birth, but it can sometimes persist and turn into diabetes Type 2. Gestational diabetes can cause complications both, for the mother and the fetus, and even if it goes away after childbirth, it can put both of them at risk of developing diabetes Type 2 later in life.
7 Steps to Control Diabetes
With diabetes Type 1, daily insulin injections are the only solution, so these steps are mostly concerning those with diabetes Type 2. Still, there are plenty of benefits to adopting these diet and lifestyle routines even if you are diagnosed with diabetes Type 1.
Step 1 – Clean up Your Diet
Food can be our medicine, but it can also be a toxin. What we eat on daily basis matters in every possible situation, but it’s extremely heightened when we’re dealing with a disease or an infection. Even more, when that disease or infection affects our blood sugar levels, immune system function, cardiovascular health, and the overall quality of our life.
Clean up your diet in order to reduce inflammation and replenish your body with healthy nutrients that can support your health and wellbeing. Stay away from processed foods and those containing high sugar content. Sugar in all forms should be on the forbidden list as even small amounts can wreak havoc on the body.
Fill up your diet with healthy macro and micronutrients and add a variety of superfoods to your meals that help lower your blood glucose levels and help you maintain a healthy weight. Put colors and variety on your plate and focus on healthy fats, moderate amounts of protein, and low-carb vegetables and fruits.
Step 2 – Increase Your Physical Activity
Whether you run five times a week, take yoga classes, or simply go on long daily walks, it doesn’t matter as long as you do it. Exercise in any way, shape, or form is extremely beneficial for people with diabetes and has a strong and positive effect on your blood sugar levels, your blood pressure, and every function of your body.
You don’t have to take up boxing or do 25k steps per day, all you have to do is find something you enjoy and stay consistent. Over time, you’ll notice a huge change and it’s going to be easier to maintain a healthy body mass index.
Step 3 – Educate Yourself and Monitor Blood Sugar Levels
It’s one to listen to your health care team, but it’s something completely different when you get actively invested in your treatment plan and learn your body’s behaviors. Unfortunately, there will always be some factors you won’t be able to control but focus on those areas you can change and monitor, helping you stay on top of your disease.
Diabetes might not have a cure, but with proper management and healthy lifestyle routines, you might be living with almost no limitations. Focus on monitoring your blood sugar levels, either through continuous glucose monitors or similar tests, learn which foods and behaviors affect blood sugar levels in your case, and form an action plan on how to tackle these hurdles and turn it all around.
Step 4 – Improve Your Sleep Quality
During sleep, your body completely regenerates, rests, and recharges batteries, repairing any sort of damage done throughout the day. When your sleep quality is poor, your body can’t do its job and you never fully recover. Disease control definitely includes good sleeping habits so your body can lower its stress levels and with it, help lower your blood sugar and reduce inflammation.
Implement good sleeping habits such as removing screens and other blue-light emitting devices from your bedroom, closing the blinds and making the room completely dark, using a sound machine or earplugs if you live in a noisy street, abstaining from food at least two hours before bedtime, and trying to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day.
Step 5 – Stress Management
Probably the hardest of all seven steps regards stress management. We live in a stressful, busy world, where almost every daily interaction causes some sort of stress reaction. Whether it’s a traffic jam, an email we need to reply to asap, our children jumping from the sofa, or having to rush from a meeting to a meeting without having the time to breathe.
When you have diabetes, it’s important to keep your stress levels under control as it’s one of the greatest contributors to the disruption of your insulin secretion and the ability to control blood sugar levels. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) puts a lot of focus on mental health and reducing your stress levels, helping you implement daily steps which will contribute to your self-care.
Some of the best ways of reducing stress include meditation, journaling, relaxing sessions such as the spa or reading a book, mental health therapy, and even simple breathing exercises.
Step 6 – Hydrate
Hydration is important whether you’re the healthiest person in the world or diagnosed with diabetes. Our bodies are 70% water and it’s crucial to keep our fluid levels at their optimal range in order for all of our body processes to run smoothly.
Dehydration is very common in those struggling with diabetes as one of the main symptoms includes excess urination. That’s why staying on top of your water intake is so crucial in controlling your blood sugar. You might hear how you need to drink eight cups of water per day, but this is just a generalized recommendation. How much you actually need depends on a variety of factors, from the weather and outside temperature to how much you sweat and whether or not you’re staying physically active.
Increase your fluid intake throughout the day and always have a bottle of water with you so you can sip whenever you get the chance to.
Step 7 – Follow Your Health Care Protocol
If you’re in a situation where your diabetes condition has progressed to a more severe phase, listen to your diabetes health care team and take the prescribed medications or insulin injections. They will help reduce your high blood sugar and the inflammation that follows, making it easier for you to control it. Additionally, support your therapy with the other six lifestyle steps and work together with your health care team to prevent diabetes complications and maintain a low blood sugar level for as long as you can.
Diabetes is a serious condition that shouldn’t be neglected, especially at the very beginning when every little thing you do can have a massive impact on your blood sugar levels and keep them low. Implement these seven steps into your therapy and you’ll feel good knowing you’re doing something amazing to help control your diabetes and improve your health and longevity.