Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Diabetes Explained and What You Can Do to Help Yourself

There are 3 main types of diabetes and millions of people are affected by it.  However, in conjunction with your doctor or health care provider and any prescribed medicines, there are plenty of things you can do to help yourself to stay healthy.

First let’s take a look at the 3 main types of diabetes:

·        Type 1 diabetes is where the body does not make insulin.  Insulin is needed to turn the sugar from the foods we eat into energy for the body.  With Type 1 diabetes a person needs to take insulin every day.
·        Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes.  With Type 2 diabetes the body does not make enough insulin or does not use insulin properly.  With Type 2 diabetes a person may need to take pills or insulin to help control the diabetes.
·        Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes some women get when they are pregnant.  This type of diabetes usually disappears after the baby is born.  Women who have this type of diabetes during pregnancy may be more likely to get diabetes later on in their lives and so may their children.

Why you need to take care of yourself with diabetes

Keeping your blood sugar levels as close to normal, along with monitoring and managing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, will help with:

·         Feeling less tired and having more energy.
·         Feeling less thirsty.
·         Healing quicker and better.
·         Help prevent teeth and gum problems.
·         Having less bladder infections.
·         Having less skin infections.
·         Help to control the bladder.
·         Lesson your chance of having a stroke or heart problems.
·         Lesson your chance of developing eye problems.
·         Lesson your chance of having kidney problems.
·         Lesson your chance of nerve damage.

What you can do to help yourself with diabetes

It’s important to stay as healthy and active as possible when living with diabetes. 

Healthy food

With the help of your doctor or health care provider, make a meal plan that is suitable for your type of diabetes.

Opt for foods that are low in calories, salt, sugar, saturated and trans fats.

Try to eat more fibre, choosing whole grain breads and cereals.

Choose low-fat dairy and lean meats.

Try to eat more fruit and vegetables.  Around half of your plate should contain these, with the other half split between lean protein and whole grains such as brown rice or whole wheat pasta.

Drink plenty of water.  Replace fruit juices and sodas with water.


You can help control your blood sugar levels by maintaining a healthy weight.  Exercise helps to burn energy, aids weight loss and helps to control blood sugar levels better.

Regular physical activity will also help to lower your blood pressure and lesson your risk of heart disease.

Try to be active most days of the week.  If you are not used to exercise, then it’s best to start off with a slow short walk every day and gradually increase the pace and length of time you walk.  Low-impact exercises like walking, cycling, and swimming, will help to get you started.  In addition to regular cardiovascular exercises, muscle-strengthening exercises, perhaps twice a week, will also help.  These could include the use of such things as stretch-bands, push-ups, weights/dumbbells.


Find ways to help you relax, as stress can contribute to raising your blood sugar levels.  Practise deep breathing or meditation.  Go for a walk or do some gardening or listen to music or any other hobby that you find relaxing.  Some people find Yoga or Pilates helpful for relaxation.

N.B.  It is advisable to consult your doctor or health care professional about any concerns regarding diabetes.

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