Nearly 40 million Americans have diabetes, a chronic medical condition that interferes with the way your body manages blood sugar (glucose). Without proper treatment, diabetes increases your risks of serious health problems, like heart disease, vision loss, kidney failure, nerve damage, and amputation.
Fortunately, a diabetes management plan can help. In addition to medication, a good management plan includes lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of complications and improve your overall health, too.
As a trusted medical provider in Lakeland, Florida, Sergio B. Seoane, MD, helps patients reduce their risks of complications with diabetes management plans tailored to their needs. In this post, he reviews four simple steps that could help you avoid diabetes complications.
Physical exercise improves your body’s response to insulin, the hormone that helps your body process and use glucose. That makes it a great way to help manage your glucose levels naturally.
Plus, regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, manage your cholesterol levels, and keep your blood pressure in check, all of which can also prevent diabetes complications, like heart disease, nerve damage, and obesity.
Staying active isn’t always easy, but there are a few tricks that can help. Choose an activity that you like — it could be the gym, but it could also be something like walking, swimming, bicycling, or even dancing. Set achievable goals and start small, celebrating milestones along the way. Consider exercising with a friend for more motivation and to help keep you focused and on track.
Most people know that managing diabetes means watching how much sugar or carbs you consume. But there’s a lot more to eating healthy when you have diabetes. Yes, it’s important to limit your carbs, but you don’t have to eliminate them. Choose slow-burning carbs, like whole grains, nuts, and grains. Fresh vegetables and even a little fruit are OK, too.
You also need to keep an eye on your sodium (salt) intake. That’s because too much salt can raise your blood pressure and put added strain on your kidneys. Read food labels and avoid processed foods. Cook from scratch using fresh ingredients rather than canned or prepackaged. And look into non-salt spice blends designed to add a flavor kick without salt.
Finally, stay away from unhealthy saturated fats and trans fat, opting for olive oil and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. Skip the sugary drinks, too, and opt for plain water or seltzer whenever possible.
This tip is an easy one to follow — after all, who doesn’t like a good nap? The reason why sleep is important is simple: When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re left with low energy, and that can tempt you to eat more than you should just to stay “energized.”
Eating more makes it harder to manage your weight, and it increases your risks of heart disease and high blood pressure, too. Plus, when you get less than seven hours of sleep each night, it increases your insulin resistance, making it a lot harder to manage your blood sugar.
Annual checkups are important for everyone, but if you have diabetes, you’ll probably need a checkup more often — sometimes 2-4 times a year. During your visit, we’ll perform medical screenings and tests to look for early signs of complications, and we’ll also adjust your diabetes management plan to ensure it stays tuned-in to your needs and your lifestyle.
You should also see your eye doctor every year for a comprehensive eye exam designed to look for early problems that could lead to vision loss. And twice-yearly dental checkups are also important for preventing gum disease, another potential complication of diabetes.
If you have diabetes, a custom management plan is critically important for reducing your risks of serious complications. To have us design a plan just for you, call 863-644-2204 or book an appointment online with Dr. Seoane today.