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Managing Your Diabetes

My older brother, father, and myself. Dad suffered one of many diabetic strokes when I was 9 years old. 

Diabetes is a disease that is slowly but surely working it's way through our whole population, with no signs of stopping. Over 25 million people in the United States alone are diabetic; another 79 million are considered pre-diabetic. It's a disease that compounds other problems; it's the leading cause of blindness and non-traumatic amputations in America. My father, mother, and many aunts and uncles suffered through diabetes, and the picture isn't pretty. Furthermore, if you're diagnosed with diabetes but don't make the necessary lifestyle changes to manage it, you and your family can be heartbroken by the results. The numbers are rising, but we know why they rise, and how to manage it, if not stop it completely. Living with diabetes can be managed, and anyone considered pre-diabetic should read below to avoid suffering the ailments associated with diabetes.

What Causes Diabetes?

Unfortunately, not much is known about type 1 diabetes, other than that genetics factors play in. Type 2 diabetes, however, which accounts for 90% of all diabetes including for my father, depends not only on genetics but also on lifestyle choices. Some people take this to mean that eating too much sugar or being overweight is what makes you diabetic, which isn't fully true. Consuming more sugar can increase risk for diabetes (a soda a day can increase your risk by 22%), and so can being overweight, but diabetes is much more complicated than that. Diabetes occurs when your body fails to metabolize glucose, because you become increasingly resistant to insulin. This means you'll have a high blood sugar level, and the complications from that manifest in damaging ways. Being pre-diabetic means that your blood glucose levels are rising which suggests that you're becoming more resistant to insulin.

Managing Your Diabetes

With this information, there are two good ways to manage your diabetes, or your risk for it. Those ways are:

  • Reduce the amount of glucose you take in
  • Improve your body's insulin absorption levels

First, reducing your glucose intake should be done very carefully, because having blood sugar levels that are too low can cause complications just like high blood sugar can. But one important thing to note is that you don't have to eat specially formulated, expensive diabetic food. I repeat, you can have diabetes and still eat a regular diet, as long as that diet is healthy and proportionate. That means:

  • Don't eat large amounts of sugar. Diabetic or not, sugary foods have many risks associated with heart disease, fat gain, memory problems, and a host of issues. Moderate or even eliminate them from your diet. Chances are that you might not eliminate sweets, so try to save them for special occasions instead.
  • Don't DRINK large amounts of sugar. A lot of the sugar that people intake comes from liquids, and it's really easy to accidentally take in loads of calories and sugar just from sipping a few ounces of fruit juice. Opt out the orange juice for some fresh oranges! It's cheaper and healthier.
  • Manage your carb intake. It's unhealthy to completely eliminate carbs from your diet; instead, eat some healthy whole grains or get carbs from fruits and veggies. You'll want about 45-60 grams a meal, so keep a close eye on your intake.

Second, there's currently a known, proven way to increase the amount of insulin your body absorbs: exercise. Including exercise in your daily life activities can truly add a necessary element to managing your diabetes. Exercise is proven to improve insulin absorption in lean and obese people. Be sure to check your blood sugar levels before, during, and after a bout of exercise, because your blood sugar levels will drop when you work out. The benefits of increased insulin absorption from exercise can last longer than the benefits from an insulin injection, so pay very close attention because too much insulin in your system can cause a hypoglycemic reaction. Talk to your doctor about managing your insulin dosages with exercise.

The more intense your work out, the lower your blood sugar can drop, so light to moderate exercise is ideal for diabetes management. In fact, even a 5-15 minute walk daily can make a huge change in your diabetes management program. You really have a chance to change your life, or to save another. If you don't personally know someone with diabetes, some you know does, and sharing this information with them can potentially save other children across America from losing a loved one to a manageable disease. If you are pre-diabetic, this is just as important for you; make the changes now that will save you the trouble later. There is no time like right now to start seeing progress, so take these steps to improve your health. The benefits won't be immediate, but, when they do come, they will be priceless.

Jarell Lindsey is a physical culturist and owner of MuscularStrengthSystem.com, a website devoted to providing fitness advice and programs to ensure strength and health benefits for anyone who wants to see improvements in their lives.

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