Diabetes Management: Tips and Strategies

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, it is of utmost importance that you take action and create some strategies for managing diabetes.

Not only will taking care of your diabetes help you manage unpleasant symptoms, but it will also help prevent some serious negative consequences.

Complications of unmanaged diabetes

That is some serious stuff, right there. Unmanaged diabetes leads to a much higher risk of developing both microvascular (small blood vessel) and macrovascular (large blood vessel) complications.

  • These include peripheral neuropathy, which causes weakness, numbness, and pain in the hands and/or the feet. Nephropathy (kidney disease) can also occur. This is the deterioration of proper functioning in the kidneys and can affect people woth both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
  • There is also a higher risk of complications of diabetes, such as cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and therefore, higher risk of stroke and heart attack.
  • Studies have demonstrated that improving control over your blood sugar levels leads to less dependence upon healthcare and fewer costs related to this (insulin therapy, medications, etc.).
  • Proactive treatment can delay or even prevent several of the complications related to diabetes. Early treatment leads to a better quality of life and less health care costs related to type 2 diabetes.
  • It is also essential to have good glycemic control if you are pregnant (gestational diabetes). There is reliable evidence out there to show that the fetus of a mom with diabetes is at higher risk of significant short-term morbidity in utero as well as once that fetus becomes a newborn baby.There is also a higher risk for that baby to develop diabetes and other chronic diseases once they are an adult. The risk of all these things happening is higher in mothers who had diabetes before pregnancy.

Aside from the problems that can occur with high blood sugar levels, severe hypoglycemia can happen as well.

For more information on gestational diabetes click here.

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Diabetes management plan

When you are making a diabetes self-management plan, like most things in life, it is easier to do with others rather than all by yourself.

Work with your health care provider to develop the management plan that is best for you.

Whether it is a Medical Doctor, a Naturopathic Doctor, a dietician, a certified diabetes educator, or a nutritionist, all these people are knowledgeable and should be able to help you create a suitable plan.

Any good plan starts with goal setting. Goal setting is more effective when it is set using the SMART method. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

How can you set and stick to goals for your blood sugar level?

One important measure for blood sugar level is what’s called fasting blood glucose. This is the amount of glucose in your serum before consuming a meal.

Fasting blood glucose in an average healthy person is around 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L). For those with diabetes, a good fasting blood glucose level to aim for is between 4.0 and 7.0 mmol/L.

Another way of measuring blood sugar is by looking at what’s called postprandial blood glucose. This is the amount of sugar in your serum two hours after eating.

This value should be between 5.0 and 10.0. If your HbA1c targets are not being met, however, you’ll want to aim for 5.0 to 8.0 postprandial blood glucose.

What is HbA1c? This is yet another way to measure blood sugar, but this value shows your blood sugar status over a more extended period of time. Your target HbA1c should be 7.0% or less.

How lifestyle affects diabetes

Diet

There are actually several healthy diets that are equally effective and reliable for preventing type 2 diabetes mellitus.

In fact, the Mediterranean Diet, as well as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH Diet), are associated with a 20% reduced risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes in the future.

Researchers have also noticed that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is 1.6 to 2 times lower in vegetarians compared to the general population, even when accounting for differences in Body Mass Index (BMI for short).

Clinical intervention trials showed that vegetarian diets lead to increased weight loss and a stronger effect on lowering blood sugar levels and cholesterol.

A vegetarian diet was also associated with less of a need for blood sugar-lowering medications. All this is compared to a standard low-calorie diet in those with type 2 diabetes.

There was even a more significant reduction in visceral fat and lower oxidative stress markers compared to the low-calorie diet.

The beauty of vegetarian diets is that they are sustainable in the long term. In fact, the American Diabetes Association has said that well-planned vegetarian diets are healthy, provide you with all the nutrition you need, and can be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of many illnesses, including diabetes.

Exercise

Exercise also plays an essential role in diabetes management. A study published in the Journal of Medical Science researched the effects of a 12-week exercise program, on type 2 diabetic patients.

Their results found that the exercise program improved glucose utilization and tolerance, cardiorespiratory fitness, blood pressure, and QOL as well as depression status in patients with T2DM.

Further studies have also concluded that a lifestyle incorporating aerobic exercise and/or PA that complies with the guidelines of being of moderate intensity for at least 30 min on 3–5 days per week, is associated with improved insulin sensitivity and glycaemic control.

Smoking

The reality is that diabetes is on the rise worldwide. Scientists have said that this is due to the sedentary, non-active lifestyle and the higher intake of processed foods so prevalent in today’s society.

Smoking impacts the health of people who already have diabetes; however, it’s essential to know that people who smoke are 30-40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers.

How easy is it to make lifestyle changes that help you manage your diabetes?

Making lifestyle changes to manage diabetes is not always easy. I am not going to lie to you about this.

Diabetes management requires hard work. However, it is easier to manage it now rather than once it’s gone too far, and you have several chronic complications.

Changing your diet, exercising, and quitting smoking will certainly be the most difficult part. These involve larger life changes and creation as well as maintenance of habits that may not be so easy to keep.

The simplest lifestyle changes to make will be to make sure you are taking your medications and supplements. Making these changes requires minimal effort, so why not do it?

Natural supplements to manage diabetes

There are several different natural ways to manage diabetes. They operate using different mechanisms of action in order to help manage symptoms and/or treat the root cause of diabetes.

If you’re unsure of what the symptoms of diabetes are, it’s important you familiarize yourself with diabetes warning signs.

  • Bitter melon: Momordica charantia, commonly known as bitter melon, is one such remedy. Bitter melon helps to decrease fasting blood glucose, HbA1c, and two-hour postprandial blood glucose. It also reduces polydipsia (constant thirst), polyphagia (constant hunger), nocturia (the need to urinate during the night), and weight loss. All of which are common symptoms of diabetes.
  • Alpha-lipoic acid: is another natural remedy that can be used to help in the management of diabetes. Alpha-lipoic acid can lead to significant improvement in pain, numbness, peripheral nerve conductance, sensory symptoms, decreased nerve fiber degeneration, and improved neuropathy and endoneurial function. However, alpha-lipoic acid does not just help with nerve-related symptoms. It has also been found to reduce markers of oxidative stress and to inhibit copper and iron-mediated oxidative damage. Alpha-lipoic acid is also effective at lowering blood sugar levels.
  • Cinnamon: isn’t just a tasty spice. It’s also medicinal, particularly in the management of diabetes! In patients with HbA1c higher than 7.0, it can help to significantly lower fasting blood glucose levels. It is also helpful in managing cholesterol levels of those with diabetes. Cinnamon has been shown to reduce total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol), and triglycerides. It also helps to increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (“good” cholesterol).
  • Chromium: is a micromineral that is often used in diabetes management. Chromium works by helping to lower fasting blood glucose levels.
  • Gymnema Sylvestre: is a herb that helps with the regeneration and repair of the beta cells of the pancreas. These are the cells that produce insulin in a healthy person. Beta cells may have difficulty with this in someone with insulin resistance or insulin sensitivity. When beta cells are repaired, this raises insulin levels, which is normally difficult to do in a patient with diabetes. Gymnema Sylvestre also reduces blood glucose. It is also good at helping patients to the point where they can decrease the dose of their conventional diabetes medications..
supplements

For more information on natural supplements for diabetes, click here

What to look for in a diabetes supplement

The best supplements for managing diabetes have a broad spectrum of minerals and nutrients. You want to make sure there is a clinically significant dose of the key ingredients.

High quality ingredients: You also want high-quality ingredients. You definitely want to be putting natural ingredients into your body. But guess what? An ingredient, even in its ideal dose, is useless if it isn’t in the right form! When you are shopping around for diabetes management supplements, you’ll want to make sure you get a product that contains ingredients that have been scientifically proven to have clear benefits specifically for diabetes.

Bioavailability: You want a highly bioavailable form of each supplement ingredient. This way, your body will actually absorb what you are putting into it.

Transparency: You want to know what you are getting when you spend your hard-earned money on a diabetes management supplement. This is why you want to get your product from a company that provides clear information about their laboratory testing. You also want a supplement from a company that complies with government groups, such as the Food and Drug Administration (the FDA).

Customer reviews: You want to make sure you get a product that is highly rated. It is always nice to see when a company uses third-party software to make sure that reviews only come from actual customers.

Customer service: You also want to obtain a diabetes management supplement from a company that provides excellent customer service and has a money-back guarantee.

Glyco-Optimizer

Glyco-Optimizer is an all-natural, clinical-grade diabetes supplement, designed to work as part of a healthy lifestyle to help manage type 2 diabetes. We formulated Ben’s Glyco-Optimizer to lower your HBA1c levels and restore normal insulin sensitivity. 

glyco optimizer
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Conclusion

Being diagnosed with diabetes can be overwhelming at first, but the good news is that it can be effectively managed. By talking to your healthcare provider and following a management plan you can monitor your blood sugar levels and prevent complications from developing.

Next Up

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Find out 15 Cholesterol-Reducing Foods to Add to Your Diabetes Diet.

Sources

  1. Abdollahi, M; Farshchi, A; Nikfar, S; Seyedifar, M. (2013). Effect of chromium on glucose and lipid profiles in patients with type 2 diabetes: A meta-analysis review of randomized trials. J Pharm Pharm Sci. 16 (1), 99-114.
  2. Allen, RW; Schwartzman, E; Baker, WL; Coleman, CI; Phung, OJ. (2013). Cinnamon use in type 2 diabetes: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Fam Med. 11 (5), 452-459.
  3. Baskaran, K; Kizar, AB; Radha, SK; Shanmugasundaram, ER. (1990). Antidiabetic effect of a leaf extract from Gymnema sylvestre in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus patients. J Ethnopharmacol. 30 (3), 295-300.
  4. Crawford, P. (2009). Effectiveness of cinnamon for lowering hermoglobin A1C in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled trial. J Am Board Fam Med. 5 (1), 507-512.
  5. Dias, TR; Alves, MG; Casal, S; Oliveira, PF; Silva, BM. (2017). Promising potential of dietary (poly)phenolic compounds in the prevention and treatment of diabetes mellitus. Curr Med Chem. 24 (4), 334-354.
  6. Esposito, K; Chiodini, P; Maiorino, MI; Bellastella, G; Panagiotakos, D; Giugliano, D. (2014). Which diet for prevention of type 2 diabetes? A meta-analysis of prospective studies. Endocrine. 47 (1), 107-116.
  7. Kahleova, H; Pelikanova, T. (2015). Vegetarian diets in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. J Am Coll Nutr. 34 (5), 448-458.
  8. Killilea, T. (2002). Long-term consequences of type 2 diabetes mellitus: economic impact on society and managed care. Am J Manag Care. 8 (16), 441-449.
  9. Kuriyan, R; Rajendran, R; Bantwal, G; Kurpad, AV. (2008). Effect of supplementation of Coccinia cordifolia extract on newly detected diabetic patients. Diabetes Care. 31 (2), 216-220.
  10. Levesque, C. (2017). Therapeutic lifestyle changes for diabetes mellitus. Nurs Clin North Am. 52 (4), 679-692.
  11. Mitanchez, D; Yzydorczyk, C; Siddeek, B; Boubred, F; Benahmed, M; Simeoni, U. (2015). The offspring of the diabetic mother: short- and long-term implications. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 29 (2), 256-269.
  12. Ooi, CP; Yassin, Z; Hamid, TA. (2012). Momordica charantia for type 2 diabetes mellitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 15 (8), 10.
  13. Chia-Huei L, Cheng-Wen H, Liang-Chen Ch, Cheng-Chang C. et al. (2017). Effects of a 12-week exercise training on insulin sensitivity, quality of life, and depression status in patients with type 2 diabetes. Journal of Medical Sciences. 37 (6), p227-236
  14. Bird SR, Hawley JA. Update on the effects of physical activity on insulin sensitivity in humans. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2017;2(1):e000143. Published 2017 Mar 1. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2016-000143
Alternative Text

Dr. Corina Kibsey

Dr. Corina is a naturopath in the GTA, working out of various locations of Triangle Physiotherapy. Dr. Corina struggled with digestive health for most of her life, to the point where she couldn’t remember what normal digestion felt like. It wasn’t until she discovered natural treatments for digestive problems that she was able to realize how strong and healthy she could really feel. Dr. Corina is now passionate about bringing this knowledge to others, so that they don’t have to suffer like she did. She wants to help people feel like the best version of themselves.

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