Diabetic Life Style: 5 Tips to Improve Your Blood Sugar Levels (2023)
Time to read 9 min
Time to read 9 min
Eugene Arnold, one of the leading diabetes educators, says: “Diabetes is not a ‘set it and forget it’ condition.” Since there's no 100% cure for it, you shouldn't treat diabetes like any other disease that can come and go.
Undoubtedly, diabetes is too common to be ignored; it can lead to serious complications if left uncontrolled. You need to adopt a few lifestyle modifications to manage it well.
This article willl discuss five tips to improve your blood sugar levels. We'll talk about food, exercise, stress relief, and more.
A healthy lifestyle can help you manage your diabetic condition to a controllable level. Here are the five tips on how to achieve it:
Whether taking insulin doses or other medications, the food you ingest is vital in controlling your blood sugar. Here's what you can do:
Carbohydrate counting is essential since those carbs are among the major contributing factors to blood sugar levels.
Diabetic patients who depend on insulin (usually type 1) must balance their doses and carbohydrate intake. An insufficient insulin dose won't allow the cells to take in the extra sugar found in those excess carbs, leading to high blood sugar levels.
Alternatively, those with type 2 diabetes need to limit the amounts of carbohydrates they take. Their bodies may produce insulin, but their cells have lower sensitivity to it, so their blood sugar levels would remain high.
Also, sugary and artificially sweetened beverages can raise blood sugar faster than expected. If possible, it's best to avoid those entirely.
All your meals should be well-balanced. A balanced diet should be around 40% vegetables, 25% protein, 25% fibre-rich carbohydrates, and 10% healthy fats.
Once again, since carbohydrates have considerable control over your blood sugar, aim for healthier carbohydrate options.
For example, carbs in fruits and whole grains are much healthier than other options like polished rice, pastries, and cookies.
If you're taking any medications, especially insulin, to help you control your blood sugar levels, you need to coordinate them with your meals.
For example, those who take insulin need to have the proper meal size portion. If you take insulin without having a meal or too little bit, you risk getting a hypoglycemic attack.
This condition is the opposite of having high blood glucose levels, wherein you'll dangerously reduce the sugar levels in your bloodstream, which could lead to a coma.
Many doctors ask their diabetic patients not to ingest alcohol at all, to begin with, as it can increase complications like nerve damage and eye problems. This is especially important if the diabetes is uncontrolled.
Your doctor may give you permission to drink alcohol if your diabetes is under control, but you'll be limited to 1–2 drinks a day.
Besides aggravating complications, alcohol can lower your blood glucose levels, and this effect can happen hours after alcohol ingestion.
That happens because, normally, the liver releases the sugar it stores into the bloodstream whenever the blood sugar goes below a certain level. When you drink alcohol, your liver will focus more on breaking down that alcohol and less on releasing glucose into the bloodstream.
The problem here is that alcohol's effect on blood sugar can last for up to 24 hours. So, even if you drank 10 hours ago, there's still a risk of your blood sugar going unexpectedly low suddenly.
Lastly, if you have to drink, aim for dry wines and light beers, as they have lower carbohydrates than other alcoholic beverages.
While exercising is necessary even for healthy people with no issues, it's even more critical for managing diabetes, where the patients suffer from high blood glucose levels. That's because muscles will use up that glucose to produce energy.
Also, regular exercise while having diabetes can improve your insulin sensitivity, according to the CDC. Further, it'll reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and help you control your blood pressure.
However, you need to keep some precautions in mind:
You should be wary of dangerously lowering your blood sugar levels while exercising, which is why you should manage your exercise plan with your doctor.
Your doctor should be able to provide you with an appropriate exercise schedule based on your age, blood sugar levels, and condition. It's essential to stay within that schedule to avoid hypoglycemia.
Your doctor should inform you of the minimum blood sugar levels you can have before you start exercising. This should keep you safe from lowering your glucose too much by accident.
Also, make sure to check your blood glucose during and after exercise. If you fall below your doctor's recommended level or start experiencing signs of low blood sugar (irritability, shaky hands, or confusion), you should stop your workout immediately.
Besides having your medications ready to control your blood sugar if it rises, you should also have a few snacks in your bag to raise your blood sugar if you lower it too much by accident.
Also, hydrate constantly while exercising, as dehydration can affect blood sugar levels.
Did you know that stress can raise your blood sugar? When you're stressed, your body will produce certain hormones that increase glucose in the bloodstream.
While it's impossible to altogether avoid stress, especially in our fast-paced world, many ways exist to reduce its effect on us.
Here are a few things you can do to fight stress:
Diabetes can be stressful, but so can those constant skin pricks you get from insulin syringes. If you can't get used to those needles, why not try needle-free insulin injectors?
Meditation will elevate your mental condition, help you cope better with stress, and lessen its effect on you.
The beauty of meditation is that you don't need prolonged sessions; just a few minutes of relaxing and positive asserting at the beginning of your day can go a long way in fending off stress.
People who meditate regularly find it easier to go through the day. Meditation can also manage symptoms of some diseases.
Some research found that loneliness can increase stress. But people are everywhere, and it's always good to ease your stress by taking time off to talk to someone.
After all, humans are social creatures by nature, so it only makes sense that we'll feel better by connecting and talking to each other.
Laughter treatment isn't a joke; laughing can reduce stress tenfold.
It'll stimulate many organs like your heart and lungs, improve oxygen intake, and releases endorphins in your bloodstream. It'll also improve your mood, personal satisfaction, and immune system.
The best thing about it is that you can find hundreds of laughter sources online with a few clicks.
According to the American Psychological Association, adults who don't sleep eight hours a night have higher stress levels than those who get enough sleep.
A good night's sleep can help your body relax and prepare for the next day. You might even find a solution to that stubborn problem if you sleep on it.
If none of those mentioned above solutions helped you control your stress, it's never a shame to seek a professional to help you control your emotions and reduce stress.
Smoking cessation goes a long way in managing diabetes and preventing it.
According to the FDA, smokers are 30–40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, smoking makes diabetes management a lot harder because of the high nicotine levels.
Nicotine can reduce the effectiveness of insulin, making it more difficult to control your blood sugar regardless of the diabetes type you have and furtherly exacerbating complications like digestive and kidney diseases.
The good news is that even if you're diabetic and a smoker, it's not too late. You'll still experience a drastic positive change if you quit smoking.
Some studies concluded that insulin becomes more capable of reducing blood sugar levels after just eight weeks of smoking cessation.
That's not to mention the countless benefits your body gets as soon as you quit smoking.
Everyone gets sick every now and then, and such sickness can add to your stress, which in turn can mess up your ability to control your blood sugar levels.
As such, here's what you can do whenever you're sick to keep your diabetes in check:
Some illnesses could make you nauseous, and you may eat less or even vomit your food. If that's the case, and you're using insulin or any other diabetes medications, you should adjust your dose.
It's important to consult your doctor before adjusting the dose. Remember, you neither want hyper nor hypoglycemia.
It's extra essential to take your diabetes medications if you're sick, as managing your blood sugar becomes more critical.
However, if you're taking new medications to treat your sickness, consult your doctor first to ensure there are no drug interactions between the medications you're taking.
If you were slacking off your dietary plans before, you should immediately stop that when you're sick.
Keeping blood sugar levels is already hard as it is, and it becomes extra important when you have another sickness hurting your body.
If there's any update on your condition, you should report it to your doctor immediately.
Whether you're experiencing a new side effect, trying a new medication, modifying your doses, or trying a new diet plan, you should confirm with your doctor to ensure that you're not doing more harm than good.
If you're used to measuring your blood sugar levels twice daily, you should increase that to three or four times when you're sick.
This will help you catch/stop any problems before they get bigger and manifest as side effects.
A person with type 1 diabetes produces little to no insulin, necessitating external insulin daily.
Some people with severe type 2 diabetes may also require insulin. However, many cases of type 2 diabetes can be controlled with a healthy lifestyle alone.
Most cases of diabetes require lifestyle modification, but that doesn't mean you won't be able to do what most people can generally do.
Whether you work from home, outdoors, or in an office, keeping your blood sugar levels within the favourable range is the trick.
Unless you modify your lifestyle and control the diabetic condition, you risk having some unpleasant complications like nerve damage, eye damage, and hypoglycemic comas.
There you have it; five tips to improve your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes.
You can start by regularly managing your diet and exercising based on your doctor's instructions.
Follow that by avoiding stress as much as possible and quitting smoking as soon as possible.
Remember to keep in touch with your doctor for regular checkups and whenever you get sick. That way, you can safely adjust the doses of any medications you take.