Diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition where the body is either unable to produce insulin (Type 1) or insufficient insulin (Type 2). Insulin is a chemical produced by the pancreas to supply nutrients (glucose, fats and proteins) through blood to the cells for energy. When a person becomes diabetic, the cells do not get the nutrients resulting in blood sugar to increase. As glucose blood is filtered by the kidneys, excess sugar enters the urine accompanied by excess water. This is why a diabetic always feels thirsty and shows signs of frequent urination.
Before getting into the tips of managing diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2), we know knowledge of the disease is the key to its management. So, let’s discuss about the symptoms of diabetes mellitus.
There are three Ps to look out if a person is suffering from diabetes.
- Polyuria- frequent urination; When sugar levels are higher than normal, the body pushes the kidneys to produce excess of urine to release excess glucose.
- Polydipsia- increased thirst; since the kidneys are producing excess urine to keep the sugar levels normal, the body gives sign to hydrate. It can be present in children and babies as well and should be at high priority if there are cases of heavy wet nappies or bedwetting. In addition to increase in thirst, the mouth starts to feel dry.
- Polyphagia- increased appetite; this happens when the body is not able to supply glucose to the cells.
The 3Ps are caused by the effect of diabetes and is the most classic symptoms to look out in both, Type 1 and Type 2.
It is not easy to live with a condition which restricts your lifestyle but it is not impossible too. Certain steps can be taken for a healthy balance between diabetes and lifestyle.
Diabetes mellitus can be controlled by medication on prescription. Oral drugs are available that helps to increase the insulin level in body but should never be taken without consultation of a doctor.
However, just by taking medicines to control diabetes is not the proper way and won’t give out the best results. Hence, making dietary changes and setting goals for physical activities.
Regular physical activity is not just beneficial for people with diabetes but helps in general. With the increase of people engaged in sedentary activities, achieving body-weight stability has become challenging. Sedentary activities include television watching, playing video games, using mobile phones or computer or any activity which does not have any physical activity involved. A close examination reveals that people engaged in sedentary activities tend to over consume food in the absence of hunger.
Exercising during diabetes can prevent other complications and minimise health risks. Exercise usually reduces the blood sugar level and helps the glucose level in the normal range. However, if blood glucose is lower than normal range then exercising can result in hypoglycaemia. Therefore, the insulin and food intake must be taken in consideration to the duration and intensity of physical activity.
In this time where people often complain about lack of time, here are few ways you can keep yourself physically active.
- Start setting goals to be more active in a week. Initially, you can start with 3 days a week with 10 minutes walking.
- Do something while watching television, texting, or using a phone or computer; do leg raises or any movement to keep you active.
- Indulge in outdoor games with family instead of staying at home.
- Take stairs instead of lifts or escalators, walk whenever possible.
- Get a pedometer or fitness band to keep a track of your physical activity.
- Sometimes, meet your friends in the park instead of any food joints and go out for long walks.
Office workers tend to lead a more sedentary lifestyle than others. Moreover, they complain of having no time for going to gym or particularly take out time for any intensive workouts. Here are few tips which will help office workers to stay active during their working hours
- Try to go up to co-workers instead of e-mailing or texting them.
- Use the restroom which is farther from your work place.
- Try to park your car away from the office.
- Walk for 10-15 minutes after having lunch.
- Join your kids for any outdoor activity instead of letting them sit in front of any electronic devices.
- Ask your kids to join a team in school.
- Encourage your kid to go cycling.
- Apart from academics, engage your kids in any hobbies like dancing, karate, etc.
Eating unhealthy or skipping meals can cause your sugar levels to fluctuate. Moreover, making dietary changes helps you to keep these unusual fluctuations in control. Here are few ways to maintain a healthy diet and nutrition.
- Talk to your diabetes educator for a diabetes meal plan.
- Drink lots of water instead of juices and aerated soda.
- Choose fruits like apple which can alternate as an evening snack.
- Make sure your diet includes lots of foods with fiber including lentils, peas, broccoli and sprouts.
- Carbohydrate intake can increase the level of sugar in blood. Keeping track of carbohydrates in the food can help you control blood sugar. Therefore, it is better you talk to diabetes educator for planning the carbohydrate intake.
- Avoid drinking alcohol.
- Unlike many meats, seafood is low in unhealthy cholesterol and saturated fats particularly- salmon, mackerel and tuna.
- Increase your intake of garlic as it can help in controlling high blood pressure.
Top 9 foods you can include to manage diabetes
Yogurt- Yogurt contains vitamin D which is very beneficial for bones. Diabetics should add non-fat dairy products such as yogurt and milk in their diet as they have low GI scores; GI of skimmed milk is 32 whereas GI of yogurt is 33.
Tomatoes- Tomatoes contain high level of lycopene which is beneficial to prevent prostate cancer. Moreover, their GI ranking is very low.
Berries- All berries especially blueberries are rich in antioxidants that helps to reduce the risk of heart diseases. Also, they are rich in Vitamin C and fiber.
Walnuts/Flaxseeds- Walnuts and flaxseeds contain fiber, magnesium and omeg-3 fatty acids. Walnuts are full of Vitamin E, Zinc and proteins. All nuts are low in GI scoring, for example peanuts have a score of 7 and cashews have a score of 27.
Oats- Oatmeal is rich in magnesium, fiber, nutrients and antioxidants. Moreover, they keep you full for a longer period of time.
Olive Oil- Olive oil helps in supplying monounsaturated fats and is rich in antioxidants which prevent heart diseases.
Spinach- Spinach is one leafy vegetable which contains magnesium, zinc and potassium. It is particularly rich in Vitamin K. It is proven to manage diabetes.
Cinnamon- Cinnamon is high in chromium which enhances the effect of insulin. They also help in reducing bad cholesterol.
Turmeric- Turmeric has an active ingredient, curcumin which impacts on blood sugar. It directly effects on fat cells, kidney cells and muscle cells. The combined action of all these factors helps in maintaining blood sugar.
The other steps to be taken to manage Type 1 and Type 2 at home are:
- Take your medicines on time or whenever you feel good.
- Check your feet for any cuts, wounds, blisters and swelling. Talk to your diabetes educator if required.
- Keep checking your blood pressure and keep track of it.
Diabetes is a chronic condition which requires on-going counselling. Even though diabetics have to make restrictions in lifestyle, they can too lead a normal and healthy life like non-diabetics. BeatO is a diabetes management organisation which helps manage diabetes by providing diabetes coach who proactively monitor the sugar readings and make dietary and lifestyle changes that are tailor-made for their clients.
Yes, diabetes lives with you throughout your life, but do not let it affect you. By making few changes at home and constant counselling, you would never have to worry about diabetes anymore. Control your diabetes, don’t let diabetes control you!