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So behalten Sie den Überblick über Ihren Diabetes

von NFI Redaktion

Carol Gee experienced the firsthand effects of type 2 diabetes as she grew up. „A family member had an amputation, and another constantly suffered from yeast infections,“ says Gee, who lives in the Atlanta area. She was always mindful of her sugar intake as she was told that too much sugar was the cause.

So, it was a shock when she was diagnosed with diabetes herself in 2009 in her fifties. „At first, I had a pity party,“ she laughs. Then she worked with a diabetes counselor to figure out how to avoid the same complications as her loved ones.

After learning that carbohydrates in the body break down into sugar, Gee reduced her consumption of bread, pasta, and baked goods and added more fruits and vegetables to her plate. She also made exercise a regular part of her routine. „I’ve been living with diabetes for 13 years now and have never felt healthier,“ she says. „I learned from my family members that taking medication is important, but it’s not enough. It’s also about lifestyle.“

Medication alone is not enough to manage diabetes. Your diet, physical activity, and stress all affect your blood sugar, says Ajay Rao, MD, Associate Professor at the Center for Metabolic Disease Research at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.

Over time, high blood sugar can lead to issues like gum disease, nerve damage, vision loss, heart problems, and more. Healthy habits can prevent these complications. In fact, a study found that people with type 2 diabetes who had the healthiest lifestyle were only half as likely to develop heart disease as those with the worst lifestyle.

Weight loss and exercise can help your cells respond better to insulin, the hormone that helps your body use and store blood sugar, says Lauren Plunkett, a diabetes counselor and spokesperson for the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists. For some people, a lifestyle change can lead to remission of the disease, so they no longer need to take medication.

Ready to take control of your diabetes? Consider these smart steps.

Eat against diabetes. There’s no one-size-fits-all diabetes diet plan. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help you achieve a healthy weight – and keep your blood sugar levels in check.

  • Avoid sugary drinks. Sodas, sports drinks, and other sweetened beverages contain about nine teaspoons of sugar in a 12-ounce serving. They also pack on calories, which can lead to weight gain. Opt for water or unsweetened tea instead.
  • Focus on non-starchy vegetables. These vegetables are low in carbohydrates and calories, says Rao. They also provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Examples include broccoli, carrots, leafy greens, tomatoes, green beans, and squash. The American Diabetes Association recommends filling half your plate with these non-starchy vegetables, then dividing the rest between lean protein and carbohydrate foods like whole grains, dairy, beans, and fruit.
  • Watch your portion sizes. Americans underestimate their portions by up to 46%. This can lead to overeating and weight gain. A serving of dry cereal, cooked pasta, beans, or a starchy vegetable (like corn) is half a cup, while a 1-ounce slice of bread or corn tortilla counts as a serving. Try measuring your portions at home to stay on track when you’re on the go.
  • Limits added sugar and refined grains. These carbohydrates can cause a spike in your blood sugar. Replace refined grains with whole grains that contain fiber to slow digestion. But you don’t have to skip dessert. That can simply lead to cravings, says Plunkett.

Get moving. Physical activity not only burns calories but can lower your blood sugar for up to 24 hours. Every time you tighten a muscle, it uses glucose for energy. It also makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.

You don’t have to spend hours at the gym. Start by moving your body every 30 minutes, even if it’s just getting up or stretching quickly. „Studies show that short bouts of physical activity have a positive impact on blood sugar control,“ says Viola Holmes, Deputy Nutrition Director of the American Diabetes Association.

Try to incorporate 10-minute bursts of exercise throughout the day. Choose something you enjoy like stretching, dancing, playing with your kids, strength training, or walking. For Gee, it’s gardening. „I also like to park further away from the store to get those extra steps in.“ Aim to accumulate 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week over time or about 30 minutes five times a week.

Find ways to relieve stress. Managing diabetes can be stressful, so it’s important to find ways to relax. Stress triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone that tells your liver to release glucose. Over time, chronic stress raises your blood sugar levels and makes your cells resistant to insulin, says Holmes.

Sporting is one way to relieve tension. Others include:

  • Try various relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, or dancing. Also, find ways to do things throughout the day that you enjoy.
  • Talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Perhaps reach out to a friend or loved one or join a diabetes support group. People with diabetes also experience depression two to three times more often. So, talk to your doctor if you’re not feeling well.
  • Get enough sleep. Not getting enough shut-eye can lead to stress and dampen your mood. It can also increase insulin resistance and enhance your hunger, making weight loss more challenging. You need at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Quit smoking. Nicotine causes changes in cells, making them unresponsive to insulin. This can worsen your blood sugar levels. Smoking also increases the risk of complications like heart disease and kidney failure.

Get regular check-ups. Diabetes can increase your risk of various health issues. It’s important to keep track of routine health screenings like eye exams, dental visits, and blood pressure checks, says Rao. Discuss with your doctor what screenings you need and how often you should have them done.

Find the right support. You should work closely with your healthcare team to keep your diabetes under control. This is especially important if you are a person of color. Racial and ethnic minorities have a higher risk of complications and poorer diabetes control. There are many reasons for this, but lack of access to healthcare, cultural attitudes, as well as social and economic status are all factors.

For more information, check out the following resources:

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