There are over 463 million individuals who have diabetes worldwide, and in the United States, diabetes has a prevalence of over 10%. Diabetes mellitus is widely considered one of the most common diseases. Numerous risk factors can result in this condition. While some are irreversible like age or genetics, there are also variable lifestyle factors such as diet, physical activity, and stress. In our article ‘What Is Prediabetes?’, we explain that you can determine if you have diabetes by knowing your blood sugar numbers. After all, recognition is important in treating this disease.
Diabetes treatment usually involves insulin injections, oral medications, and even surgery depending on how severe your condition is. Of course, the condition necessitates you to reflect on your lifestyle as well, along with the choices you make every day. For instance, have you considered swapping out sugary sodas for fresh green juices? It might not seem like much, but adjusting these daily habits so they’re healthier can have positive effects on diabetics.
We’ve listed down three non-pharmacological options to manage diabetes:
Diet and weight control
Highly processed food can worsen a diabetic’s condition because they increase insulin levels and promote inflammation. Fortunately, reducing elevated blood sugar levels can be achieved through proper diet and weight control. While a low-calorie diet could work for diabetics, WeightWatchers demonstrates how a weight loss plan for diabetics should also look at big-picture nutritional data. For instance, calories from a cookie differ from those in grilled chicken. Though they may share the same amount of calories, it’s their nutritional values that deem which one is healthier to eat. For diabetics, avoid foods that are high in added sugars and are packed with carbs. Instead, make it a habit to reach for fiber-rich fruits and vegetables to foster glycemic control. Similarly, plant-based proteins like beans also regulate blood sugar.
Losing weight is essential in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Regular exercise can improve insulin sensitivity in diabetics, and there are a variety of physical activities you can choose from. Aerobic exercises, for instance, can improve glycemia (which is the concentration of glucose in the blood). Cycling, running, and swimming are highly enjoyable forms of aerobic exercise. These are also ideal if you want to sustain a regular workout routine. For those who want to increase their muscle mass too, we recommend resistance training either through lifting weights or calisthenics.
Stress stimulates hormone release that can lead to elevated blood sugar levels. In particular, an excess of cortisol can impede insulin production. The role of insulin varies in the two types of diabetes; in type 2, however, an increased need for insulin is more common to keep glucose levels within the desired range. Ultimately, stress can aggravate pre-diabetes symptoms. Even worse, stress doesn’t simply contribute to the onset of diabetes, it can also influence the outcomes of current diabetics. In a study on the intersection of stress and diabetes, Diletta Ingrosso explains that daily self-management and treatment regimens can cause patients to feel diabetes-specific stress. To lessen the mental and emotional strain from ongoing treatments, diabetics should have coping strategies in place. For instance, consider doing breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga to promote relaxation and practice a positive mindset.
Diabetes management shouldn’t feel insurmountable. Adopting the above options to your lifestyle can provide you with sustainable ways to help lessen the burden of the condition.