Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in the United States. According to the American Diabetes Association, 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes each year (Statistics About Diabetes, n.d.). Information regarding diabetes and diabetes management is always changing as we learn more. This continuous influx of information can be overwhelming, especially to people who are newly diagnosed. Here we will break down the few things that everyone should know when they are newly diagnosed with diabetes.
There are several different types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is something that many people are born with. It is an autoimmune reaction where the body does not make insulin. Type 2 diabetes is often acquired later in life and refers to a defect in the body’s ability to use insulin. Gestational diabetes is a diagnosis specific to pregnant women. Often these women have no history of diabetes, but can increase the chance of being diabetic after pregnancy. Prediabetes refers to increased blood sugar levels that don’t satisfy the requirements to be diagnosed with diabetes.
Though there are countless medications on the market for diabetes, the best way to manage diabetes is with lifestyle changes. Even those who have prediabetes should adopt specific lifestyle changes to decrease their risk of developing diabetes that requires medical treatment. The hallmark of diabetes management is blood sugar control. This can be achieved with diet and exercise.
When it comes to diet, limit carbohydrates and sugar. It is important to note that sugar is not limited to desserts. Foods high in sugar include some pastas and even some fruits. For example, watermelon, pineapples, and bananas are not recommended for those with diabetes. Fruits such as cherries and berries have less sugar and thus are more suitable for those with diabetes. Many beverages are high in sugar also, including sodas, juices, and many coffee drinks. Not all tasty foods are bad, though. Foods to include in a diabetic diet include fish, leafy greens, whole grains, and beans. Overall, when it comes to diet, the most important thing to consider is portion size. When making a meal, it is important to follow and measure out the recommended portion size in order to better keep track of the food you are eating. It is also beneficial to eat at regular times throughout the day to maintain blood sugar control.
Exercise lowers your blood sugar by helping your muscles use insulin more effectively. Along with blood sugar control, exercise promotes weight loss, better sleep, and blood pressure control, which are all important factors of diabetes management. Effective exercise can vary greatly, but some methods include walking, swimming, and dancing. As always, be sure to talk to your doctor before adding any new workouts to your regimen.
No matter how you are managing your diabetes, all people with newly diagnosed diabetes need to be educated about blood sugar monitoring. Nowadays, there are many devices that can be used to check your blood sugar, and your doctor will help you find the device that works best for you. It is very important to be comfortable with monitoring your blood sugar, so make sure to practice with your doctor and let them know if you have any issues regularly monitoring your blood sugar. In general, most people should monitor their blood sugars at specific times of the day to create a regular routine. This often includes first thing in the morning, before meals, and after meals.
This article reviewed by Ms. Deb Dooley.
There’s nothing more important than our good health – that’s our principal capital asset.
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