living with diabetes - photo of a white glucometer
18/05/2020 By AskAwayHealth

9 Recommended Changes To Help You Live Better With Diabetes

Updated April 2022

For people living with Diabetes, lifestyle changes to make for the sake of their condition can influence how well or not it is controlled.

Globally, Diabetes is a major cause of illness and death.

Part of the successful treatment of diabetes involves lifestyle changes. That sounds daunting, but don’t worry, you can gradually add them into your routine.


Nine Recommended Lifestyle Changes

The following are the 9 best-recommended lifestyle changes you must make if you have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Living With Diabetes

Change Your Diet

In newly diagnosed overweight diabetic individuals, a very low-calorie diet can lead to normal blood sugar levels in as short a time as 1 week.

Therefore, the benefits of a change in diet in diabetes cannot be overemphasized.

Thus, we recommend the following:

  • Eat foods high in fibre content like beans, lentils and legumes.
  • Cut out refined sugars, processed carbohydrates, and red meat.
  • Eat more plant-based diets like whole-grain cereal, vegetables, fruits and nuts.
  • Eat lean meats, such as skinless chicken and turkey that are low in saturated fat.
  • Serve your meals in smaller portions.

lifestyle changes for diabetes

Engage in Regular Physical Activities

Engaging in exercise regularly protects against diabetes.

On the other hand, a lifestyle without exercise (a sedentary lifestyle) is a major risk factor.

Regular physical activity also helps control sugar levels.

It does so by ensuring that glucose from the food eaten is pushed into the cells, therefore decreasing the sugar levels in the blood. [1]

Exercise can also lead to weight loss.

Weight loss, in turn, reduces ‘insulin resistance’; that is the body’s insensitivity to insulin.

All these means contribute to normal blood sugar control and the risk of developing complications from diabetes.

We suggest:

  • Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate to high-intensity five times a week.
  • You do not even need a gym for this.
  • You could engage in a variety of physical activities such as swimming, brisk walking or dancing.
  • Even engaging in household chores can count as physical activity.

Walking, though a simple exercise has been shown to reduce a person’s risk of Diabetes.

Walking 5 times a week (30 mins on each occasion) reduces the risk of diabetes by 60% compared to doing so for less than twice a week for the same duration.


lifestyle changes for diabetes

Weight Loss

Weight loss of just 5–10% in obese people has been found to decrease the amount of ‘visceral’ fat significantly.

Visceral fat refers to the fat that directly surrounds the body’s organs within the abdomen.

It is different from the fat that lies just beneath the skin.

A slim person with a flat tummy can have high quantities of visceral fat.

Weight loss can be achieved by combining calorie restriction and regular exercise.

The advice for people with diabetes is to aim for a healthy body mass index depending on weight and height.


lifestyle changes for diabetes

Quit Smoking

Exposure to cigarette smoke has been linked with an increased risk of Diabetes.

Another reason to quit smoking is that it worsens symptoms in people living with Diabetes, making control of their blood sugar difficult.


lifestyle changes for diabetes

Consume Alcohol In Moderate Amount

If you are diabetic, care should be taken with the quantity of alcohol you consume.

Excess alcohol consumption can affect the control of blood sugar.

Alcohol also contains calories therefore and so excessive intake may cause weight gain.


Eliminate Stress

A little known fact is that Stress has been identified as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

When you’re stressed, hormones like cortisol are released.

Cortisol causes an increase in blood sugar levels.

Therefore, avoiding any stressors in your life is important since constant stress could make the blood sugar rise and be difficult to control.


lifestyle changes for diabetes

Drink Water

It is very important that you stay hydrated. This helps the body cells function more effectively.

Cut out all sugary and fizzy drinks and juices – they contain very high amounts of sugar.

Instead, take up the habit of drinking water frequently instead.

For those who find water to be ‘bland’; you may add flavour with slices of cucumbers, oranges, lemon or lime and mint leaves.


Green Tea

Drinking natural teas like green tea helps with hydration.

They are also a source of antioxidants which may help decrease injury to the body’s cells, and insulin resistance and promote the health of organs like the heart.


lifestyle changes for diabetes

Never Miss A Doctor’s Appointment

If you were the kind of person that would skip a doctor’s appointment before your diagnosis, that shouldn’t happen anymore now that you are Diabetic.

  • Have your blood pressure checked regularly.
  • Hypertension is twice as frequent in diabetic individuals when compared to non-diabetic people.

This means that individuals with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular complications. 


Conclusion

Adhering to these lifestyle changes would not only improve the health condition of an individual who has diabetes mellitus but would also decrease the chances of developing diabetes in persons at risk.

Have you any questions on this topic? Ask Here

Contributed By Dr Fisayomi Aturamu


More Reading

References

  1. Amy Freeth, 2019. Diabetes Causes, Myths, Treatment, and Home Care.
  2. Hubert Kolb and Stephan Martin, 2017. Environmental/lifestyle factors in the pathogenesis and prevention of type 2 diabetes. BMC Medicine.
  3. Wu et al, 2014. Risk Factors Contributing to Type 2 Diabetes and Recent Advances in the Treatment and Prevention. International Journal of Medical Sciences.
  4. The Global Diabetes Community, 2019. Lifestyle Changes for Type 2 Diabetes.
  5. Hyun Min Kim and Jaetaek Kim, 2013. The Effects of Green Tea on Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Metab J.


Editing by AskAwayHealth Team

Disclaimer

All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising  Medical Practitioners on a wide range of health care conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality health care. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified health care practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly

Image Credits: Canva

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