Optimum Health For Diabetics

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After you get over the initial shock of being diagnosed with diabetes, you will realize that you have to take steps to keep your blood sugar levels under tight control. You owe it to yourself to prevent any health complications that could affect you in the future. So the sooner steps are taken to achieve a healthy, fit lifestyle, the better.

Whether you are diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes you will receive support and back-up from your GP or diabetic clinic. They will teach you how to administer blood sugar tests, take your oral medication, or give yourself insulin injections. You will learn the various ways of adjusting blood sugar (glucose ) levels through medication, diet and exercise.

When I was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic I was completely overwhelmed by all the information and advice I was given. It was a life-changing event for me. Life wouldn’t ever be quite the same again. However you soon come to realize that despite all the support available, when push comes to shove, you are the one who has to control your illness.

I know that I’m responsible for keeping as healthy and fit as possible. The alternative is another stay in hospital. By managing your diabetes effectively you can continue to live a normal life, enjoying your food and taking part in all the activities you’ve always enjoyed.

Healthy Eating

You do need to eat the right types of food, because what you eat directly affects your blood sugar levels, which ideally should be between 4mmol/l – 7mmol/l ( 75mg/dL – 120mg/dL ) although most diabetics have difficulty maintaining this measurement. What you eat also affects the level of cholesterol in your blood and your blood pressure.

By eating ‘good’ foods you also manage your weight. This doesn’t mean you have to go on a special diet. I find the Glycaemic Index is a sensible guide. Foods low in fat, salt and sugar, with plenty of fruit, vegetables and pulses. This is the ideal diet for everyone, not just diabetics. When I changed my eating habits, I lost over a stone in weight in about three months.

· It’s important to try to keep to a regular routine when you can.

· Allow about three hours between each meal. This way it’s easier to keep blood sugar levels in check.

· Cut down on fat saturated foods – throw out the deep-fat fryer.

· Eat a good selection of fruit and vegetables, and include various pulses. There are many varieties of beans and lentils.

· Try to have oily fish a couple of times a week, as they contain Omega 3. Mackerel, pilchards, salmon and sardines are ideal.

· Limit sugary foods. You don’t have to go sugar-free. Sweeteners are a great help if you have a sweet tooth.

· Definitely cut out the sugary fizzy drinks.

· Don’t buy special diabetic food products. They are a complete waste of money and do not benefit a healthy diet.

Getting Physical

Physical activity is particularly important for a diabetic’s health. You don’t have to train for a marathon, although many diabetics do. I find that by taking a brisk walk first thing in the morning, I can keep my insulin medication down to a minimum. Exercise is marvelous for lowering blood sugar levels. It also helps to prevent a heart attack or stroke, which is one of the complications of diabetes. Regular exercise also strengthens your bones and relieves gnawing aches and pains.

It is important to manage your oral or insulin medication carefully when exercising. Because the extra exertion will lower your blood sugar levels naturally, you may need to adjust your medication to take this into account. Too much exercise plus too much insulin could result in a hypo, where you blood sugar level slips below 4 mmol/l.

So always carry some glucose tablets, a glucose drink, and something starchy with you, just in case you start to feel a bit ‘wobbly’. I always have jelly babies and a flapjack in my bag at all times, in case of a hypo. If you feel the need, just eat 4 jelly babies or glucose tablets, have a drink, and then eat a sandwich or, as I do – a flapjack. In 15 minutes you’ll feel great again.

A good nutritious diet, fresh air and exercise are the answer to optimum health in diabetes.

Irene Forde writes on health and fitness issues. Her latest book, with bonus reports, can be found at http://www.movingonwithdiabetes.com

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