Lifestyle changes to reverse diabetes
Diabetes mellitus is a serious medical illness. Following a treatment plan for diabetes and managing it requires long term commitment. By carefully managing your diabetes you can decrease your risk of life-threatening diabetic complications.
The word ‘reversal’ indicates when a diabetic can stop their medicine but still must get themselves engage in lifestyle changes to continue to stay off the medicine. You can actually reverse diabetes through healthy eating and diabetes. However, it depends on the duration of the illness, the severity of the disease and genetic factors.
Despite the type of diabetes you are suffering from:
- Make a serious commitment to manage your diabetes. Gain maximum information about the disease. Talk to your diabetes educator regularly about your disease. Moreover, you can ask your treatment team to help you when you require it.
- Eat healthy and well balanced diet to maintain the optimum weight for your height and age. If you are obese or overweight, then losing even 7% of your total body weight can significantly control your blood sugar. A healthy and well balanced diet consists of plenty of vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains with a limited quantity of saturated fats.
- Make physical exercise a part of your routine. Doing exercise regularly can help in the prevention of diabetes type 2 and pre-diabetes. Moreover, it also helps those people who already have the disease to control their blood sugar in a better way. It is recommended to do 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise such as dancing, biking or brisk walking on at least five days of the week. A combination of aerobic exercises including dancing or walking on most days along with resistance training including yoga or weightlifting two days in a week often helps in controlling blood sugar in a more effective manner than either exercise when done alone.
Lifestyle for diabetes type 1 and 2
Additionally, if you are suffering from diabetes type 1 or 2:
- Identify yourself. Always wear a bracelet or tag that indicates that you have the disease. A glucagon kit should be kept handy as there may be a low blood sugar emergency. Also make sure your loved ones and friends have the knowledge to use it.
- Schedule regular exams of the eyes and a yearly physical. Even if you are getting regular checkups for diabetes, you should schedule routine eye exams and yearly physicals. During yearly physical, your physician will check for any complications related to diabetes and do screening for other medical illnesses. Your ophthalmologist will look for signs of cataracts, retinal damage and glaucoma.
- Get vaccinated regularly. Your immune system may be weakened by high blood glucose. You should receive a flu shot each year and you may be recommended a pneumonia vaccine too by your doctor. According to the most recent guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) you should get hepatitis B vaccination if you are an adult in the age group of 19 to 59 years and diagnosed with diabetes type 1 or 2.
- Take care of your feet. Use lukewarm water to wash your feet every day. Gently dry them, particularly between the toes. Apply a moisturizer. Check your feet regularly for any cuts, blisters, redness, sores or swelling. Consult your physician if you have a cut or other problem in the foot that does not heal on its own.
- Keep your blood cholesterol and blood pressure under control. Do regular exercise and eat a healthy and well balanced diet to control your blood pressure and blood cholesterol. You may also require medicines to control them.
- Take appropriate care of your dental health. With diabetes you become prone to serious infections of the gums. Floss and brush your teeth at least two times a day. Schedule dental exams regularly. Consult your dentist immediately if you notice any bleeding from your gums or they appear swollen or red.
- If you are a smoker, take the help of your physician to quit smoking. Your risk of developing complications of diabetes is increased if you are a smoker. According to the American Diabetes Association smoker diabetics are more likely to die due to heart disease than nonsmoker diabetics. Talk to your physician about different ways to quit smoking or to stop using other forms of tobacco.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. Alcohol can result in either low or high blood sugar depending on the amount you drink and whether you eat with it. Drink alcohol in moderation. Females of all ages and males older than 65 years of age should not drink more than one drink a day. Males aged 65 years and younger should not drink more than two drinks a day. Alcohol should always be taken with food. Make sure that you add the carbohydrates from alcohol you are drinking to your total carbohydrate count of the day. Moreover, always check your blood glucose levels before going to sleep.
- Manage your stress levels. Your body produces certain hormones in response to stress, which may prevent proper working of insulin, thereby, increasing your blood glucose levels. Set certain limits for yourself. Prioritize your work. Learn various relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga etc. Get enough amount of sleep.
Now that we have talked about the various lifestyle changes that you can make to reverse your disease, let’s talk of those people who due to sheer lack of motivation or negligence do not follow these lifestyle changes. They end up in the hospitals suffering from the various complications of diabetes such as cardiovascular disease, amputation of limbs etc. Diabetes is an illness, which can be managed by changing certain lifestyle habits. This can decrease the overall economic burden on the society due to the disease. However, people who don’t change their lifestyle and continue to drink, smoke, eat unhealthy foods, lead a sedentary lifestyle and so on continue to suffer from the disease and its various complications.