April is Defeat Diabetes Month and we want you to take a stand against this often-life-threatening disease. Diabetes is when your body does not properly process food to use as energy. Your pancreas is responsible for making insulin, which helps sugar find its way into your blood cells. With diabetes, your body is doing one of two things: it’s either not making enough insulin, or it’s not able to use its insulin as well as it should. This results in a sugar build-up in your blood, creating diabetes.
While very serious, diabetes can be controlled and even reversed with lifestyle changes such as a proper diet and daily exercise. Take a look at these tips for management and prevention of diabetes.
Make a conscious effort to eat high-fiber and whole-grain foods. Brown rice, quinoa, broccoli, pecans, etc. are all good choices. Your body can digest them without escalating your blood sugar. And it has been shown that whole grains can lower your risk of developing diabetes to begin with.
Be selective when it comes to protein. You may love red meat, but cutting back will help your overall health in the long run. Substitute it with chicken, seafood, beans, and nuts - these are better options and are leaner, lower in cholesterol, saturated fat, and calories.
Pay close attention to your trans fats. Trans fats are anything that contains partially hydrogenated oils, such as cookies, cakes, French fries, frozen meals, instant mashed potatoes, margarine, etc. They are typically high in calories, raising your cholesterol, thus increasing your risk for diabetes.
You have to get moving, even if it’s only for a short amount of time. Set small, realistic goals you know you can accomplish. If you like to walk, try doing so for 10-minutes a day, four days a week. Then increase your walk to 12-minutes the next week and so on. The more activity you can work into your day, the more you will start to improve your blood sugar levels.
Cut back on soft drinks; they contain high-fructose corn syrup and large amounts of sugar. They don’t serve any nutritious value, just empty calories that will leave you wanting more. Furthermore, soft drinks are sure to make your blood sugar go through the roof. Try drinking sparkling waters, homemade fruit smoothies, unsweetened tea, or even almond milk as a healthier alternative.
You must kick your smoking habit. If you have diabetes or are pre-diabetic, smoking is an absolute no-no! Nicotine from cigarettes narrows and hardens your blood vessels, limiting blood flow throughout your body. Smoking causes higher blood sugar levels, making diabetes more difficult to manage, resulting in further health complications.
At Touchette Regional Hospital, we offer the Complete Care Program. Diabetes care/education is the initial focus of the program because of the high incidence of diabetes in the TRH service area. The focus of the program is to help patients successfully manage diabetes and further prevent devastating complications of this chronic disease. Don’t let diabetes take control of your life, call us at 618.332.5370.