A Johns Hopkins expert recommends several strategies to improve your overall health while improving your blood glucose control. They are especially beneficial for your heart health, which is important for people with diabetes as they have a higher risk of heart disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 17 million people in America take diabetes medications or injections, or both, to control their blood glucose.
Even though taking the prescribed medication is essential, it’s not the only thing you should do to help regulate your blood sugar levels. Having diabetes raises the risk of stroke and heart disease by 2 to 4 times, as the American Heart Association explains.
That’s why you have to pay more attention to your heart if you have diabetes.
Rita Rastogi Kalyani is a Johns Hopkins diabetes expert who gives several recommendations for improving blood glucose control and preventing heart problems.
Follow her advice to protect your heart and health from diabetes complications.
One nationwide study analyzed how weight loss in 5,145 type 2 diabetes patients affects their long-term blood sugar control (A1c), blood pressure, and triglyceride levels.
The results showed that losing just 5-10% of their weight makes them 3 times more likely to reduce their A1C by 0.5%, 50% more likely to reduce their blood pressure levels by five points, and twice as likely to reduce the triglyceride levels by 40 points, in comparison with those who didn’t lose weight.
This shows you don’t have to lose a lot of weight to improve your blood sugar, blood pressure, and triglyceride. This, in turn, protects your heart from damage.
A review of 15 studies shows that increasing the fiber intake for up to 12 weeks helps reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. In fact, most people don’t get the recommended daily amount of fiber.
According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes should get 14g of fiber for every 1,000 calories.
The participants in the studies received an average of 18g of fiber a day (you can get this amount in a bowl of breakfast cereal and a few extra servings of veggies.
Researchers recommend choosing vegetables, fruit, and whole grains over bread, sugary treats, rolls, and other refined grain products.
Kalyani says a 30-minute aerobic exercise five days a week can help reduce A1C in people with diabetes by 0.3-0.6%. This includes activities like swimming, walking, riding an exercise bike, etc.
Having 2-3 light strength training sessions weekly will help you build muscle which uses blood glucose for fuel. One study showed that practicing strength-training and aerobic exercise every week for almost 6 months reduced A1C in all 251 participants with diabetes by almost 1%.
Even though the drop is small, it was big enough to lower the risk for microvascular complications related to diabetes by significant 35%.
Check your blood sugar levels according to your doctor’s recommendation. This can help you see how your diabetes medications affect your blood glucose levels. Also, to see if they cause some side effects.
Also, you will be able to see how your exercise habits and diet are affecting your blood sugar control. Still, monitoring your blood sugar at home for too often is also not recommendable. So, it’s best to consult your doctor.
Having diabetes increases the risk for heart disease, so it’s good to keep track of the following values:
What’s more, you should also have your feet checked at every visit. When it comes to your vision and kidneys, check them once a year. Also, have an annual urine microalbumin test and flu shot.
Overall, you should consult your doctor about every part of your health.
Smoking increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, nerve damage, vision loss, amputation, kidney damage, and blood sugar control problems.
As you may know, having diabetes increases the risk of all of these problems, so you don’t need an additional “help.”