A healthy lifestyle, plus medication, can keep your risk of heart disease, kidney failure and amputations low
You may have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but that doesn’t mean you’re destined for the complications that come with the disease. If you follow these nine steps to a healthy lifestyle—and take your medication as directed—you can reduce the risk of heart disease, kidney problems, stroke, blindness and amputations.
1. Know your blood sugar levels. Those daily finger sticks may sting, but they help you and your doctor see how well your blood sugar is being controlled and make adjustments as needed to manage it better. Keep a log of dates, times and blood sugar numbers to share with your care team.
2. Exercise. Getting regular workouts help you control your blood pressure, weight and cholesterol. You should aim for 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week.
3. Stick to a healthy diet. Create a meal plan (with a nutritionist) that incorporates a variety of healthy foods and spreads carbohydrates throughout the day. Keep healthy snacks (think celery and baby carrots) on hand and watch your portions.
4. Reduce stress. Studies show that long-term stress can cause your blood sugar levels to skyrocket. Learn your stress triggers and try to eliminate them. Relax at least 15 minutes each day through deep breathing, meditation, music, dancing or volunteering.
5. Get enough sleep. Too little sleep has been linked to everything from memory problems to obesity. Diabetics who get seven to eight hours of sleep seem to have better blood sugar level control.
6. Quit smoking. Tobacco doesn’t only increase your risk of some cancers; it also doubles your risk of developing heart disease and makes eye and kidney problems and nerve damage more likely.
7. Practice good oral care. Diabetes increases your chances of developing infections and gum disease, so make sure to brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day.
8. Monitor your feet. Check your feet every day for cuts, blisters or red spots. Treat wounds right away and call your doctor if you see signs of infection. Wear appropriate shoes, even indoors.
9. Have regular checkups. Once a year, see your health-care team to have a flu shot, a complete physical, an eye exam and a teeth cleaning. Get your cholesterol tested and have a microalbumin and creatinine test (to look for kidney damage). Talk to your doctor about any other vaccines, such as pneumonia, hepatitis B or tetanus, you might need.