Top 7 Tips to Stay Healthy with Diabetes
This post is sponsored by Colgate. Opinions are my own. If you have diabetes, you’re not alone. Diabetes is one of the largest health issues facing Americans and has been called an emerging epidemic. Diabetes, if not properly managed, can lead to numerous complications including heart, kidney, and eye disease, or other serious problems. But the good news is that there are things you can do to help manage your diabetes.
The main goal of diabetes treatment is to effectively control blood sugar through food, exercise, lifestyle and if needed, medications. For those living with diabetes, it can seem overwhelming and takes up a lot of time and mental energy. I always recommend my patients take small steps when it comes to making changes. Small steps eventually add up to big changes … and better blood sugar control!
Top 7 tips for people with diabetes
1. Overall healthy diet. I find that many people with diabetes get overly focused on carbs and forget about the big picture – the overall nutritional content of your diet. While it’s true that carbs have the most impact of raising blood sugar, it’s the diet as a whole that contributes towards overall health, heart health, weight management and blood sugar control. Eating minimal carbs but loading up on fatty meats, highly processed low carb products and foods high in sodium while consuming too few vegetables, fruits and whole grains is not on the path to health!
2. Stay active. Exercise helps to lower blood glucose by increasing the muscles’ ability to take up and use blood glucose. It can also lower the amount of medication needed to keep blood glucose levels in target range. If that’s not enough – exercise improves heart health, can aid in weight loss, improves mood and stress, helps you sleep better and slows loss of muscle that occurs with age. The ideal program would include both cardio (30 minutes a day most days of the week) and resistance training (2-3x/wk). And you don’t need to join a gym! Go for a brisk or find a weight training exercise DVD. Of course, always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. And … try to avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time as this can worsen blood sugar control. Get up and move around every 30-60 minutes.
3. Monitor your blood sugar. Keeping your blood sugar in control is the best way to prevent complications. The frequency of checking blood sugar depends upon your individualized treatment plan. Some people check fingersticks several times a day while others get it checked only at doctor’s appointments. Make sure you get your HbA1c levels checked several times a year. This is an average blood sugar for the past 2 to 3 months.
4. Have regular appointments (and good communications) with your diabetes care team every 3-6 months. Your team may include your nurse educator, endocrinologist, and dietician. Reach out to them with your questions. You want a team you feel you can communicate with. Make a list of your questions before your appointments. And of course, keep your appointments! In addition to blood sugar, your doctor will also check your cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, feet, eyes, and kidney function.
5. Get support. Having diabetes 24/7 can feel stressful and lonely. It’s important that you get support in your life. This could be a significant other, a friend, colleague or online support group. People with diabetes have increased rates of depression so a therapist could be a good option for some people. The worst thing you can do is to hold in your feelings.
6. Manage stress. Life can be stressful and having diabetes can make you feel even more stressed. And this can be a vicious cycle as
stress can raise blood sugar. In addition, when you are stressed, you are less likely to stick to a healthy eating and exercise plan. Find easy and effective ways to manage stress. Maybe it’s a yoga class, using a meditation app, reading a book or taking a walk. Find ways to incorporate these techniques into your life. And … make sure you get enough sleep
7. Maintain good oral health. This is an area that you may not even think about – but you should! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people living with diabetes are 2x more likely to develop gum disease. Seeing your dentist every 6 months can be a good way to stay on top of oral health. Plus, for daily brushing, Colgate Total® is the only FDA approved toothpaste that can reverse and prevent gingivitis, an early form of gum disease.
 Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/pdf/ndfs_2011.pdf
 Colgate Total® toothpaste is approved through the New Drug Application process to help prevent gingivitis. Not approved for the prevention or treatment of serious gum disease or other diseases. As shown in 6 month clinical studies of the general population
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I especially love problem-solving, whether it’s helping women defeat issues plaguing them for years, helping a busy executive find practical ways to get heart healthy, or providing tips to help you reverse diabetes. That’s why I’m on a constant quest to expand my knowledge by staying on top of the latest research.