Being proactive in caring for yourself as soon as you’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is the best way to improve your lifestyle, and prevent or delay complications of diabetes including heart disease, circulation issues, and kidney failure. Simple lifestyle modifications can ensure you enjoy a long, healthy life.
Don’t wait to take steps in lowering your blood sugar
All too often, individuals put their health on the back burner, only to regret not taking it seriously and acting sooner.
Waiting to get type 2 diabetes, cholesterol or blood pressure under control is like postponing getting the brakes fixed on your car. Just like your car could accelerate out of control, blood sugar, lipids, and blood pressure that aren’t monitored and managed can speed up your risk for heart disease, vision issues, or circulation problems.
Keep your A1c in range
According to a CDC study, only 1 in 4 adults with diabetes reaches their target goals for Hba1c, cholesterol, blood pressure and smoking cessation. Individuals that have already been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease are even more likely to have these levels outside of healthy ranges.
One reason healthy target ranges for blood sugar, lipids, and blood pressure get dismissed is that your doctor may not be as proactive as they should be because they are unaware of the advised recommendations. In addition, patients have trouble making lifestyle changes like taking medications due to lack of access to health care, cost of health care and medications, food insecurity, or lack of interest in modifying unhealthy behaviors.
Steps to prevent complications of type 2 diabetes
Maintaining good health while having type 2 diabetes means taking action as early as possible. Don’t wait until your health declines to start implementing a healthier eating plan or exercise routine. The time to start is now! While you don’t have to change everything all at once, choosing one habit at a time will give you the tools to lead a long, healthy life.
Make daily healthy food choices
Eating healthy doesn’t mean overhauling all of your meals, but it does require some changes.
- If you’re drinking regular soda, cut down on the portion size, switch to diet or better yet switch to flavored seltzer water.
- Choose 100% whole grain bread or pasta in place of white for more fiber and overall nutrition.
- Increase your portions of veggies
- Limit intake of sugary treats and snacks as well as alcohol.
Regular physical activity reduces stress, improves sleep, and helps your body use glucose and insulin more efficiently. Take a brisk walk after dinner or try a fun class at your local rec center. Consistency is key for blood sugar management, so choose something you enjoy!
Take your medications
If you’ve been prescribed medication for diabetes, blood pressure and/or cholesterol, taking them as intended is one of the best ways to help prevent complications. Talk to your doctor or chat with the 9amHealth Care Team if you’re experiencing unwanted side effects, are unable to afford them or aren’t taking them for other reasons.
Taking medications for blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol is a common way these conditions are managed, but eating a nutritious diet plays a delicious part in managing them, too. Making healthy food choices helps manages blood pressure, sugar, and lipids, which may drastically reduce the number of medications you may need to take.
Be sure to aim for and maintain blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol in the target ranges to prevent complications of type 2 diabetes.
- The current target for HbA1c is at or under 7.0% for most people with diabetes
- HDL target is above 40 mg/dL for males and 50 mg/dL for females
- The target for triglycerides is below 150 mg/dL
- Target blood pressure for most is under 130/80 mm Hg.
Get medical support
Working with a Diabetes Care and Education Specialist could help keep you motivated to maintain healthy food, physical activity, and other lifestyle habits. They listen, collaborate and offer support to help manage your type 2 diabetes.
At 9am.health, you have access to your own personal Diabetes Care Specialist who can support you in your lifestyle and behavior changes, review medications, and address any concerns you may have with taking your meds.
Don’t forget about scheduling annual checkups to screen for complications of diabetes including your regular eye exams, foot exam, dental exam, lipid profile and blood pressure checks. 9am.health can assist with some of these, too!
Collaborate with your healthcare practitioner to reach your health goals. They are your ally in your diabetes care.
Diabetes and life expectancy
Did you know you could add years to your life through better blood sugar management? A recent research study published in JAMA Network Open suggests that managing blood sugar, lipids, and blood pressure can extend the life expectancy of individuals with type 2 diabetes.
Lowering these numbers can add up to 4 years to your life
- A1c: adds 3.9 years
- Systolic blood pressure: adds 3.8 years
- LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein): adds 1.9 years
- BMI (body mass index): adds 0.9 years
Can lifestyle changes reverse type 2 diabetes?
With the right combination of healthy nutrition, exercise, and sometimes medication, diabetes management—or even reversal—is possible. Even if you’ve taken medication for your diabetes in the past, remission, which is another term often used in the same context as reversal, of diabetes is achievable for some people.
The American Diabetes Association defines remission as an A1c under 6.5%, a minimum of three months after stopping medication for diabetes. Prolonged remission is when complete remission is sustained for 5 years without medications. Read more about reversing diabetes here.
Making lifelong, positive habit changes through nutritious food choices, regular exercise and optimal sleep can help some people achieve target blood sugar ranges
Can you live a long life with diabetes?
Absolutely! While type 2 diabetes requires committed changes to food and exercise habits, people dealing with diabetes can have similar longevity and vitality compared to people without diabetes.
Nurture your social connections
Another key ingredient to living a long, healthy life is maintaining social connections through friends, family, and other close networks. A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that the more socially engaged people are throughout their lifespan, the better their biomarkers of physical health including weight, C-reactive protein (a measure of inflammation), blood pressure, weight, and body mass index. On the flip side, social isolation had similar negative health effects to physical inactivity beginning at a young age.
If you need help getting started, the Diabetes Care Specialists at 9amHealth can support you by offering individualized suggestions on healthy lifestyle habits. Collaborating with a Diabetes Care Specialist is part of your 9amHealth membership.
Being proactive in your diabetes care will help prevent complications and manage blood sugar. 9amHealth is your partner in living a full, healthy life while dealing with diabetes no matter where you are on your diabetes journey.
Get started today to get the diabetes care you deserve.