10 Daily Tips to Live Well with Diabetes
Diabetes daily self-care can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be a burden if you take the time to plan a routine that fits into your daily activities. For example, take your medications at the same time every day; check your feet after you shower or before going to bed, or exercise very early before doing anything else. Here are 10 tips that will help you cope with your every-day diabetes care.
- Check your blood glucose. Blood glucose levels below 120 mg/dL before meals, and below 180 mg/dL (less than 140 mg/dL if possible) after meals, is the goal to stay healthy and prevent or delay the development of diabetes complications. This is also known as tight control. According to the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) and the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study, tight control is vital. Work with your Health Care Team to achieve those glucose levels.
- Take your medications. Pills, insulin, aspirin, blood pressure medications and any other medications the doctor has you on, must be taken exactly as prescribed and in synchrony with your meals in order to help you get the best control. Read more about medications and diabetes.
- Check your feet. Foot problems are one of the most serious and costly complications of diabetes, but daily foot care and proper control are the key to avoid them. Check them yourself with a mirror or with the help of a loved one after your daily shower or before going to bed. If you find blisters or any wound that is not healing in a couple of days, see your doctor immediately. Learn how to take care of your feet every day.
- Get moving. Exercise is like taking a diabetes pill. When you exercise, you burn up the glucose in your blood and your blood glucose levels drop. Exercising also benefits your heart, reduces bad cholesterol (LDL), increases good cholesterol (HDL), helps weight control, reduces stress levels and increases your general sense of well-being. Just 30 to 45 minutes a day of any aerobic activity like dancing, jogging or walking 10,000 steps most days of the week, will be enough to help you. Also, experts recommend at least 3 sessions of resistance training a week, such as lifting weights.
- Watch your diet. Low carbs, good fats, fresh veggies and lean protein like fish or skinless chicken will help you not only to control glucose levels, but to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease or other chronic diseases. Design your own diet plan and learn the 7 things you must know about carbs.
- Take a multivitamin. A good multivitamin with antioxidants like vitamins C, E, Betacarotenoids, Selenium and Zinc is very important for people with diabetes. The development of several complications seems to be related to the oxidative stress process caused by high glucose levels. Unfortunately we don’t get all the nutrients we need from the food we eat. Even if we follow a really healthy diet, the soil is depleted from many natural nutrients that will never reach our table. Read about the need of vitamins, minerals, multivitamins and nutritional supplements written by Robert Anthony for our About Nutrition site.
- Get plenty of fluids. 8 glasses of water or any other beverage that is not caffeinated as well as the water contained in soups and fresh produce, will provide you with enough fluids. Watch the amount of caffeine and alcohol you take because they have a diuretic effect. Learn about alcohol and diabetes and find out how much water you need to drink according Shereen Jegtvig, our Guide to Nutrition.
- Brush and floss your teeth. Daily oral care is vital to keep your teeth healthy and avoid gum disease, which is the main cause of tooth loss and is also frequently linked to diabetes control. High blood glucose affects gum disease and gum disease affects blood glucose levels. Gum disease is even related to high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. Learn how to avoid gum disease and about the connection between diabetes and gum disease written by Tammy Davenport, our Guide to Dentistry.
- Sleep enough. Each person has different needs, but sleeping is necessary for repairing and maintaining our body. Lack of sleep has been associated with a higher risk for type 2 diabetes. Also, if you don’t sleep enough your emergency hormones tend to increase your blood glucose levels. The recommendation is to sleep 7 to 8 hours each night. Find out how to beat insomnia by reading this article written by Nancy Schimelpfening, our Guide to Depression.
- Practice stress management techniques. From yoga to praying or listening to smooth music, choose one or several activities to help you reduce your stress levels every day. Read about the effect of stress and find ways to reduce it. Also, have a good laugh everyday. Rumor has it, “a laugh a day keeps the blues away”. It has been reported that laugh helps the heart, reduces stress and even improves immunity.