Living with Diabetes: Steps to a healthier way of life.
Diabetes is a metabolic condition which is related to the body’s ability to process glucose or otherwise known as blood sugar. It has become a common problem around the world with more and more friends and family members needing to learn to live with this condition. Our bodies are complex machines that turns or metabolizes the macronutrients (foods) into glucose and other micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, proteins etc.). Glucose is needed in the body for the cells to function, the body uses it for energy. Insulin is a peptide hormone, and it regulates the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. In other words, insulin takes the glucose present in our blood into the cells. Diabetes is an overall arching term for different issues associated with the metabolization of glucose or the body’s ability to resist insulin or not produce it at all.
To manage diabetes, one first needs to understand the different forms, know your ABC’s, and learn to live with this condition by implementing various health practices and habits.
Diabetes management requires awareness. Know what makes your blood sugar level rise and fall, food and /or stress — and how to control these day-to-day factors.
Step 1: What are the different types of diabetes?
Type I diabetes: Occurs when the body fails to produce insulin at all. People with Type 1 are insulin-dependent, which means they must have an external source of insulin to stay alive.
Type 2 diabetes: Type 2 diabetes affects the way the body uses insulin. While the body still makes insulin, unlike in Type I, the cells in the body do not respond to it as effectively as they once did. This is the most common type of diabetes, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and it has been associated with obesity.
Gestational diabetes: This type occurs in women during pregnancy when the body can become less sensitive to insulin. Gestational diabetes does not occur in all women and usually resolves after giving birth.
Take diabetes seriously!
You may have heard people say they have, “a touch of diabetes” or that their “sugar is a little high.” These words suggest that diabetes is not a serious disease. That is not correct. Diabetes is serious, but you can learn to manage it.
People with diabetes need to make healthy food choices, stay at a healthy weight, move more every day, and take their medicine even when they feel good. It is a lot to do. It is not easy, but it is worth it!
Step 2: Know your diabetic ABC’s.
A is for the A1C Test or HBA1C.
The A1C is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar level over the past three months. It is different from the blood sugar checks you do each day. This gives you an overall summation of your average glucose levels. This is a good indicator to see if you have achieved your goals, for many diabetics the goal is to have an average glucose level of 7. Targets may vary depending on your health and where you are in our journey.
B for Blood pressure.
What is it?
Blood pressure is the force of your blood against the wall of your blood vessels, it is the pressure found in your circulatory system resulting from the pumping of blood by the heart.
Why is it important?
Diabetes can affect your blood pressure. The blood vessels can lose their mobility if there is too much glucose in the blood. Fluid in the body also increases and this may strain your heart. If your blood pressure levels get too high, it makes your heart work much harder. It can cause a heart attack, stroke, and damage your kidneys and eyes.
What is the blood pressure goal?
The average blood pressure goal for most people with diabetes is below 140/90. It may be different for you. Ask your doctor what your goal should be.
C is for Cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is not bad within itself. In fact, your liver produces all the cholesterol you need. However, we also ingest it in our diets regularly. Cholesterol is found in foods derived from animals. For example, meat, poultry, and eggs contain cholesterol, all called dietary cholesterol. These foods are also rich in saturated trans fats which can lead your liver to produce more cholesterol than it otherwise would. This causes the levels of cholesterol in the body to rise and go from normal, to a level that is unhealthy. The high levels of glucose in the body found in diabetic patients may lead to a fatty liver increasing the risks of excess cholesterol in the blood.
Managing your Diabetes
Your body chemistry is incredibly unique to you. Each individual person is a case on its own with various factors that need to be taken into consideration when treating diabetes. However, dietary changes and an active lifestyle can have incredibly positive effects, especially in Type 2 diabetes. Nevertheless, these lifestyle changes cannot take the place of a medical practitioner or health care provider supervising and helping you manage your diabetes.