The question of how to manage diabetes isn’t always straightforward, and it depends upon the specifics of your situation. For example, taking insulin isn’t optional for type 1 diabetics, but many people with type 2 diabetes don’t need to use it on a daily basis. That said, recommendations on how to improve and alleviate the symptoms and complications associated with diabetes are widely applicable in most cases.
Cleaning up your diet, adding exercise to your regular routine and even using certain supplements may improve your outcome and your quality of life. Though you may not be able to stop using insulin altogether, you may be able to reduce your dose. Or, if you don’t require insulin, you may be able to avoid having to use it in the future (or at least delay it). For these reasons, let’s quickly cover several of the best recommendations for successfully managing your diabetes.
-The Standard Approach.
According to Diabetes Australia, the third oldest diabetes association in the world, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when trying to eat right. As a diabetic, you may assume that the recommendations on a healthy diet will be different from an average person, but they say that is not the case. While you may try to avoid carbs more rigidly than someone without diabetes, you should focus on getting lots of healthy fruits and vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy, nuts, legumes and whole grains. This makes it easier to implement a good eating plan, as your whole family can eat the same meal and you don’t have to buy special food (1).
-The Low Glycemic Diet.
Other experts disagree somewhat, and think that you should stick with foods that are low on the Glycemic Index (2). What is this? The GI scale is simply a measure of how fast foods break down into glucose during digestion – which indicates how much they’re able to spike your blood sugar. You may be surprised to learn that many healthy foods are high on the GI scale. These include potatoes, some whole-grains, most sweet fruits and even starchy vegetables (like peas).
Which approach is right for you? That will be based upon how aggressive you’re willing to be with your diet, and on how feasible it is for your situation. If you currently have a very poor diet that is laden with junk food and sugary items, then abruptly switching to a low glycemic diet will be a difficult challenge. In this instance, you may be best served to simply clean up your diet and start eating in a generally healthy way. In contrast, if you already follow a good diet, you may want to go a step further and try sticking to low GI foods to keep your blood sugar as stable as possible.
No matter what dietary route you ultimately choose, all experts agree that you should exercise on a regular basis. This won’t just improve the outcome with your diabetes – it will elevate your overall health. The good news is that you don’t have to start lifting heavy weights or perform wind sprints, as even moderate activity a few times a week will provide remarkable benefits. According to one study, sedentary men who engaged in moderate intensity exercise just three times per week, saw significant reduction in their insulin resistance after six months (3). To gain these benefits, they burned 400 calories per session, but they did not have to perform high intensity workouts.
Other sources recommend that you exercise for 30 minutes, 5 days each week, at a moderate intensity level. That means a brisk walk, resistance exercise with moderate weight or any other activity that gets your heart rate up. The good news is, you can break up the 30 minutes however you’d like, if you prefer to do small sessions throughout the day or week instead (4).
A good diet and regular exercise will go a long way towards successfully managing your diabetes. However, experts also recommend that you stop smoking and limit your consumption of alcohol (5). In addition, some diabetics have had good luck using natural supplements to augment their lifestyle changes and any prescription medications they’re taking to keep their blood glucose under control. These supplements may be worth a try as they’re all-natural; the list of possible choices includes chromium, magnesium and cinnamon (6).
When wondering how to manage diabetes, these general guidelines give you an excellent picture of what steps you should be taking. As a whole, they can help keep your blood glucose steady, your diabetes under control and leave you feeling healthier overall.