Here are some simple yet practical ways for you to bring your blood sugar under control.
You do not have to wait for the new year to start all over again to get your resolutions in place. Especially if you are suffering from a condition like diabetes. The reason being the time you decide to start to live healthy to control diabetes is the time when your year-of-good-health starts. So here is how you can gain control over your fluctuating blood sugar and be on the healthier side even with a condition like diabetes.Resolution #1:Check blood sugar levels regularly
For a diabetic his/her blood sugar level is an extremely important aspect of staying healthy. It indicates how well you are managing your diabetes and, if you have either high amounts of blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) or low blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemia) in your blood – both are extremely dangerous.
Hypoglycemia is a condition in which the blood glucose levels drop below the lower normal limit (80 mg), and it affects the working of the entire body. The common symptoms of the condition are lethargy, decrease in mental function, irritability, shakiness, weakness in the arm and/or leg muscles, sweating and loss of consciousness. In severe cases, one may suffer from brain damage as well.
In the case of hyperglycaemia, one’s blood sugar levels are higher than the normal limit (120 mg). While suppressed appetite is a short-term symptom, long-term symptoms include eye, kidney and nerve damage plus increased risk of heart disease.
What you can do about it: The best way to check your blood sugar levels at regular intervals is to have a glucometer at hand. According to Dr Rajiv Kovil, ‘A type 2 diabetic should measure his/her glucose levels once before a meal and once two hours after a meal. This should be done on different days at different times, also known as scattered checks. In the case of people suffering from type 1 diabetes, they should get a 7 point check, before and after meals, along with a 3 am reading.’ Invest in a blood glucometer, it will not only cut down all the trouble of going to a hospital to get your blood tested, but will also make the process much more convenient. Also know, How often should diabetics use a glucometer to monitor blood glucose levels?)
Resolution #2: Get your HbA1 checked twice a year
HbA1c (Haemoglobin A1c) is a simple blood test that tells you and your doctor how well your diabetes is managed over time. It is aimed at measuring your average blood sugar levels, and to see if it has stayed within the required range. The test works by measuring the amount of glucose that gets attached to your red blood cells – that are said to be ‘glycated’ when the glucose molecule gets attached to it. This means that the higher the amount of glucose that gets attached to the cells, the lesser the amount of oxygen the cells can transport to your body and tissues. The average percentage of glycoslated cells directly translates to the HbA1c reading. According to Dr Rajiv Kovil, renowned diabetologist, ‘A diabetic should get his/her HbA1c levels tested every six months, and the level should be below 7% to avoid any further complications.’ A normal person’s HbA1c level is usually below 5%, but in a diabetic this level is increased because of the amount of glucose in their blood. An average above 7% is an alarm that you are more susceptible to diabetes related complications. Uncontrolled diabetes can raise the risk of you developing eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy by 76%, Kidney disease by 50% and nerve damage by 60%*.
What you can do: Get this test done either twice a year (every 6 months) or once in three months depending on how well your diabetes is controlled. If you tend to forget, you can ask our doctor to schedule the test for you whenever it has to be done. The test is simple and does not require you to fast totake it, so just take an appointment and get tested. Know why ‘Diabetes is not a blood sugar disease it is a vascular disorder’, says expert.
Resolution #3: Have all your medication on time
Eating the right amount of medication at the right time is one of the most important aspects to controlling your diabetes. It is important for you to understand that you cannot eat two tablets instead of one if you miss your previous medication or if you eat more than you should have. These medicines work on a particular enzyme produced in the body at a particular time, and therefore more is not always better. Missing medication can increase your risk of suffering from the common complications associated with diabetes like kidney disease, diabetic retinopathy, diabetic dyslipidemia and diabetic foot. Constantly fluctuating blood sugar levels wreak havoc in your body, so keeping a close track of your medication is essential. Here is a diet plan that every diabetic can benefit from.
What you can do: A good way to keep a track of your medication is to have a schedule written down, referring to your prescription might not always be feasible. You could also buy a daily drug dispenser that will help you have your medication on time, every day. Alternatively you could tell your friend or relative about your schedule and ask him/her to remind you.
Resolution #4: Take care of your kidneys
One of the most serious consequences of diabetes mellitus (DM) is renal or kidney disease, also known as diabetic nephropathy. This happens if your diabetes is not well controlled, leading to kidney damage and finally nephropathy. Another common complication is chronic kidney disease (CKD). This is a condition where the kidneys have been damaged to such an extent that they start to malfunction. The final stage of this disease is the complete failure of your kidneys, which inhibits it from performing any of its essential functions like filtering out toxins or eliminating waste from the body. Depending on the amount of damage your kidneys sustain you may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
What you can do about it: The best thing you can do for your kidneys is to eat right and drink lots of water. A diet rich in fiber, potassium and other minerals can do wonders for you kidney’s health. You can also talk to your doctor about your likely hood of suffering from kidney disease and ask for medication to slow its degradation. Getting specific tests like serum albumin and creatinine once a year is also a good idea.
Resolution #5: Keep your cholesterol levels in check
As a diabetic you are more prone to higher levels of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol, increasing your risk of suffering from heart disease and stroke. High cholesterol also leads to a common complication of diabetes known as diabetic dyslipidemia (where your LDL cholesterol becomes dense and the amount of HDL cholesterol increases). Diabetic dyslipidemia is dangerous since it leads to clogged arteries that make you more susceptible to coronary heart disease due to artherosclerosis, stroke and other vascular problems.
What you can do about it: The best way to keep your cholesterol levels n check is by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regular. You should ideally stay away from high fat foods like sweets, deep fried foods, foods labeled cholesterol-free and junk food. Instead you could include cholesterol busting foods into your diet like oats, fish, methi, onions, brinjal, green tea and brown rice.
(Continued in next page)