Defeat diabetes

Being active is another part of living healthy and managing diabetes. It helps to keep your sugar levels at a lower level, thereby reducing risks of other complications

Avoid sugary drinks such as regular soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, sweet tea and coffee, and sweetened milk. These will raise the blood glucose level and can provide several hundred calories in just one serving

Self-monitoring of blood glucose at home using a glucometer is recommended for patients on multiple insulin doses and when the clinical situation needs closer monitoring

Diabetes is not a curable disease. It can affect almost every part of the body and increases the risk of many serious health problems. The good news is that with correct treatment and control, one can prevent or delay the onset of such complications and live a long and healthy life like anyone else.

Three golden rules

1.) Healthy diet

Healthy food choices and portion control are the best ways to prevent and manage diabetes. The recommended ideal meal of a diabetes patient should contain 10 – 35 percent protein, 20 – 35 percent fat and 45 – 65 percent carbohydrate. This could be practically achieved by adapting the plate model for your daily diet.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are one of the major nutrient groups found in food and drink. They include sugar, starch and fibre. Healthy carbohydrates include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, while unhealthy carbohydrates include foods and drinks with added sugar, cakes, cookies, sweets, desserts and buns. The carbohydrate portion of the plate should include foods rich in fibre. It is necessary to limit the carbohydrate intake to maintain a healthy blood sugar level and prevent a sudden unhealthy rise in sugar level.

Proteins

Plant-based protein foods provide quality proteins, healthy fats and fibre. Beans, lentils, peas, soya, tofu and peanut butter are examples of plant-based protein foods. Dairy sources such as low-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese are rich in high-quality protein and calcium.

 Fats

Limit or avoid unhealthy fats such as saturated fats (eg., pork, beef, sausage, butter and palm oil), trans fats (eg., processed foods such as crackers, chips, cakes, cookies, margarine, deep-fried foods and fast foods) and cholesterol (eg., high fat dairy products, egg yolk, liver, poultry skin and ice cream).

Healthy fats: Mono-unsaturated fats and poly-unsaturated fats are called good fats as they can lower bad cholesterol (LDL). The sources of mono-unsaturated fats include avocado, olive oil, almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds, sunflower oil or seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts. Consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fatty fish (salmon), nuts and seeds are recommended.

Limit salt intake to five grammes or less than one teaspoon per day. Do not delay or skip meals. Avoid alcohol and smoking.

Avoid sugary drinks such as regular soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, sweet tea and coffee, and sweetened milk. These will raise the blood glucose level and can provide several hundred calories in just one serving.

Diabetes superfoods

There are many foods rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre that can be included in daily meals. Some of these include beans, dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, tomatoes, salmon, nuts, whole grains, milk and yoghurt.

2.) Physical activity

Being active is another part of living healthy and managing diabetes. It helps to keep your sugar levels at a lower level, thereby reducing risks of other complications. Regular exercise and staying active every day can control weight and help maintain a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index), strengthen bones and muscles, improve mental health and mood, and increase lifespan.

Aerobic exercise:

Adults need 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic exercise (eg: jogging, walking, cycling and swimming) at least five days a week i.e. 150 minutes per week. Aerobic exercise should not be discontinued for more than two consecutive days. For weight loss, longer time of physical activity is required.

Physical activities

 Gardening or farming

Using stairs instead of elevators or escalators

 Brisk walk after dinner

 Walking instead of using a vehicle, when travelling a short distance

 Reducing sedentary time (eg., watching TV)

 Jogging, cycling and swimming

 Dancing

 Playing tennis and badminton

Strength training:

Strength training (also known as resistance training) makes your body more sensitive to insulin and can lower the blood glucose level. It helps to maintain and build strong muscles and bones, reducing your risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Below are examples of strength training activities:

 Weight machines or free weights at the gym

 Using resistance bands

 Lifting lightweights or objects such as canned goods or water bottles at home

 Callisthenics or exercise that use your own body weight to work your muscles (eg., pushups, sit ups, squats, lunges, wall-sits and planks)

3.) Regular medication and follow up

The pharmacotherapy of diabetes includes oral glucose-lowering drugs, insulin injections and non-insulin injections. There are different types of diabetes medicines that work in different ways to lower blood glucose levels. Metformin is the preferred first-line oral therapy unless contradicted. It has a long-standing evidence base for efficacy, safety and cardiovascular risk protection. Depending on glycemic control and individual patient characteristics, anti-diabetic drugs or insulin or both could be added.

Self-monitoring of blood glucose at home using a glucometer is recommended for patients on multiple insulin doses and when the clinical situation needs closer monitoring. This is highly beneficial to manage the glucose level, control their diet, and engage in more physical activities.

 Take your HbA1C test once in three months

 Regular glucose self-monitoring at home

 Test for other diabetes complications once a year (eye, kidney and neuropathic complications can arise if diabetes is not managed well)



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