Diabetes is a fairly common medical condition, affecting about one in 10 Americans, which is more than 37 million people. But even though it’s common, it’s a very serious condition.
In fact, diabetes increases the risk of developing a multitude of complications, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cataracts, and glaucoma. Furthermore, 230 people undergo a lower limb amputation every day due to diabetes complications.
While these statistics may seem troubling, the good news is that if you have diabetes, it isn’t inevitable that any of these things will happen to you. There are some key lifestyle changes you can make to manage your diabetes and lower your risk for complications. In this blog, the providers at Generations Family Practice in Cary, North Carolina, explain what those changes are.
Blood sugar and overall health
Let’s start unpacking this topic by explaining the role that blood sugar plays in the operation of your body. In order for your cells and organs to operate optimally, they need blood sugar for energy.
Your body turns a great deal of what you eat into blood sugar, which is also called glucose. Then, insulin — which is made in your pancreas — acts as a key to allow the blood sugar to enter your body’s cells.
Diabetes occurs when either the pancreas doesn’t make insulin (Type 1 diabetes) or the cells don’t respond properly to insulin (Type 2 diabetes). Regardless of the type of diabetes, the result is that glucose builds up in the bloodstream.
If high glucose levels remain in the body over a long period of time, this can result in many complications, such as nerve damage, organ damage, and circulation issues.
Lifestyle changes and diabetes
If you have diabetes, the good news is you can make some simple lifestyle changes to manage your condition and reduce your risk for complications. Here are some things we recommend to our patients to help them live as healthy as possible.
Eat healthy, balanced meals
One of the best things you can do to manage diabetes is make smart food choices. Eat a healthy, balanced diet with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, such as chicken and fish.
Ditch unhealthy fats, such as those found in potato chips and French fries. Dump refined carbohydrates, which are often found in white bread and donuts. And limit your intake of salt, red meats, and processed foods.
Keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check
Diabetics have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, and they also have an increased risk of developing high cholesterol. Unfortunately, the combination can be lethal, increasing the risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
The good news is that as you eat healthier foods, this can help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If you need diet guidance, we can develop a plan to help you eat well. If needed, we can also prescribe prescription medications to bring your blood pressure and cholesterol under control.
Get moving and lose weight
By increasing your activity, you can help your body use insulin more efficiently. If you aren’t used to exercising, consult your provider for recommendations on how to get started.
Getting regular exercise and eating better can help you lose weight, which, in turn, can help you manage your diabetes. Keep in mind that modest weight loss goals of 5-10% of your body weight can go a long way toward improving your blood sugar numbers.
If you smoke, quitting will help you better manage your diabetes, and it may also help you stave off other serious medical complications.
Nicotine alters how insulin metabolizes in the body, and it also restricts circulation, which can increase the risk for foot ulcers and infections and cause nerve damage throughout the body. Here at Generations Family Practice, our providers offer a variety of highly effective smoking cessation treatments. We’ll walk you through your treatment plan and support and guide you.
If you’re a diabetic and want to learn more about how you can manage your condition, call 919-752-3714 or book an appointment online with Generations Family Practice today.