How To Live Healthy With Diabetes

By Lori NewellDiabetes is a condition in which the body either does not make enough insulin or is unable to use insulin. It is a serious condition that when poorly managed can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, blindness and amputations. However, with the right information, it is possible to live healthy with diabetes. Before starting any new program, check with a physician to ensure its safety.

Step 1

Check blood sugar levels regularly. One of the most important components of living well with diabetes is to check blood sugar levels often, says the American Diabetes Association. After being diagnosed, a health care professional will go over the appropriate testing schedule based on individual health. This way, if blood sugar levels start to get too high or too low, steps can be taken to correct it before complications set in. Keeping a log of activities and diet will help to point out triggers that cause a change in blood sugar levels.

Step 2

Exercise. Regular exercise is a critical component of living well with diabetes. Exercise keeps weight under control and can lower blood sugar levels, says the American Academy of Family Physicians. A physician can recommend the best type and intensity of exercise for your particular health situation.

Because exercise can make blood sugar levels rise or fall, it is important to test before and after working out, to learn how the body will respond. Stop exercising if feeling lightheaded, shaky, more sweaty than normal or if your pulse starts to race. It is a good idea to have 15 grams of a fast-acting carbohydrate close at hand while exercising, just in case blood sugar levels drop too low.

Step 3

Manage stress. While much more research is needed to understand the exact link between stress and diabetes, in some patients, stress can make blood sugar levels go too high or too low, warns the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. This can include daily life stresses as well as the anxiety that can come with a diagnosis of diabetes.

Many methods can be used to manage stress, including taking a walk or a hot bath, or practicing yoga and tai chi. Forms of meditation can be used, such as focusing on deep diaphragmatic breaths or even guided imagery. Some patients may choose to use imagery to visualize their insulin working and/or their blood sugar levels staying at healthy levels. It is best to try several techniques to find the right fit.

Step 4

Keep blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels and raise the risk of heart disease. For those with diabetes, this means it is crucial to avoid high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Blood pressure should be kept under 120/80 mmHg. According to the National Diabetes Education Program, LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100, and HDL levels should be above 40.

Step 5

Take care of the skin and teeth. Diabetes increases the risk of developing infections in the gums and skin. Good dental hygiene is essential and the skin, especially the feet, should be washed and dried every day and checked for sores and cuts. Diabetes can cause nerve damage that leads to a loss of sensation. This means cuts and sores may not be felt and if left untreated, they can turn into serious infections.

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