World Diabetes Day 2020: Follow These Expert Recommended Tips To Control Blood Sugar Levels Effectively
World Diabetes Day is observed on November 14 each year. This day tries to create awareness about this chronic condition and how to manage this. Here are some tips straight from expert to manage this conditions effectively.
World Diabetes Day 2020: Healthy diet and lifestyle can help control blood sugars
- Diabetes requires constant management of blood sugar levels
- A low-GI diet can help regulate blood sugars
- Diabetics should avoid drinking carbonated drinks
Diabetes mellitus is a disease characterised by high blood glucose (sugar) levels. Type-1 diabetes occurs because the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas are destroyed by the immune system, and the pancreas produces minimal or no insulin. It can only be treated with insulin injections. 90% of people with diabetes mellitus however have type-2 diabetes. Here, the pancreas produces insulin, but the body is resistant to the action of insulin and hence hyperglycemia occurs.
World Diabetes Day 2020: Ways to manage diabetes effectively
Weight loss, healthy eating and exercise form the cornerstone of type-2 diabetes treatment. Five to ten percent weight loss leads to significant improvements in blood glucose levels. One needs to eat foods lower in calories, sugar and saturated fat. It is must to restrict refined carbohydrates and processed food, eat more fibre and vegetables and emphasise on non-starchy vegetables instead of starchy vegetables like potatoes.
Exercise for at least 150 minutes per week is recommended. Not more than two days per week must pass between exercise sessions to enhance insulin action. Both aerobic exercise and resistance training are recommended. Aerobic bouts of activity should last at least ten minutes with a goal of thirty minutes per day or more. If there are no contraindications, the activities must progress in intensity over time. In the COVID-19 pandemic, with restrictions on outside activities, options include stretching exercises, weight training as permitted, yoga, walking, jogging indoors and using exercise machines. You must increase unstructured physical activity such as doing household tasks and running errands to reduce the overall sitting time. A brief (3-15 minute) bout of physical activity helps in reducing post-meal hyperglycemia. A simple option for those who have long working hours in offices is using the stairs.
People living with diabetes are twice more likely to have cardiovascular complications such as angina, heart attack, stroke, heart failure and peripheral arterial disease. It is vital to keep in frequent contact with the doctor (clinic consultation or tele-consult). This is to review glycemic targets, amend medications based on the current status and ensure that blood pressure and cholesterol are well controlled. Reducing these parameters help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. These visits are also important to screen for other complications of diabetes such as nerve damage (neuropathy), retinal complications which can threaten sight (retinopathy) and kidney damage (nephropathy).
Fatigue is a common symptom for those living with diabetes. Strategies to reduce this are to follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly, control sugars, avoid fluctuations in glucose levels, ensure vitamin levels are replete and learn to cope with stress. Living with diabetes can be mentally taxing and can cause anxiety and depression. Speak to a family member or healthcare professional to seek help as mental wellbeing makes a significant difference to overall health.
For older people, ensure that emergency telephone numbers are kept handy. If indicated, it is useful to have a glucometer (device to check capillary glucose levels) at home. It can be life saving in an emergency. Always have sugar containing foods within easy reach to treat low blood sugar (hypoglycemic) episodes.
COVID-19 outcomes are more severe for people with diabetes. Studies have shown that poor diabetes control prior to hospital admission with COVID-19 infection was associated with a greater risk of severe illness or even fatality. It is vital to take precautions to avoid getting the infection. These include washing hands regularly, avoid touching the face, using a mask, sanitise frequently touched objects and surfaces, avoid crowded places, avoid contact with people having respiratory symptoms, avoid sharing towels and utensils. If symptoms of COVID illness occur, seeks medical assistance immediately. Management of diabetes with concurrent COVID-19 infection is complex and needs close supervision. Usual medications often need to be altered or stopped and insulin injections may be temporarily required to manage hyperglycemia.
Type-2 diabetes is called a lifestyle disease. However, lifestyle changes, healthy eating and exercise make a significant difference to the risks and outcomes and enable a person to lead a good quality life.
(Dr. Nisha Kaimal, Consultant, Endocrinology and Diabetology, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai)
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