By Patrice Powers-Barker, OSU Extension, Lucas County
The Truth Contributor
In the month of November, communities seek to bring attention to diabetes as a way to learn more, support others, and take steps to prevent diabetes health problems. As we age, we are at higher risk for developing diabetes. We cannot do anything about our age or our genetic predisposition. There are things we can do to help prevent type 2 diabetes, delay onset until much later in life or live well with a diagnosis of diabetes. As with many health conditions, the recommendations are to maintain a healthy weight, get enough sleep, avoid a sedentary lifestyle, and avoid smoking. The good news is that by making these healthy choices, we can help prevent diabetes and related health problems.
Please note that these health recommendations are important for everyone, not just those who have been diagnosed with diabetes. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends:
- Manage your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. A1C is the test that is used to measure average blood glucose levels (sometimes called blood sugar levels). Some people with diabetes also use devices to track their blood glucose throughout the day and night. Work with your health care professionals to know where your personal blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels should be.
- Take your medicines on time. Even if you feel OK, don’t skip taking prescribed medications. If that’s a challenge for you, talk with your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
- Reach or maintain a healthy weight. A healthy weight and active lifestyle can help with many health conditions. If you have problems with physical movement, ask your doctor for advice and recommendations like chair exercises or other ways to be physically active.
- Take care of your mental health. We know that mind-body health goes hand-in-hand. Like other medical conditions, a diagnosis of diabetes can be challenging. It is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed or down or sad. There are healthy ways to cope with stress. Don’t be afraid to meet with a counselor or to seek out a support group.
- Work with your health care team. Your health care team might include many or all of these people: primary care provider, specialists, registered dietician, certified diabetes educator, and/or social worker. If there is an area where you need extra assistance, please ask your current team members about additional resources and professionals that can help.
- Take small steps towards healthy habits. Start slow with new habits and move forward from there. Decide how to increase physical activity or plan healthy meals. Look at your sleep patterns and decide if you need a new routine. You don’t have to do it all at once but remember that these habits can make a positive difference.
Foods, meals and recipes can be an important part of living a healthy life. For those with diabetes, monitoring and managing blood sugar levels are important. Food can help with this when people eat the right amount of foods at the right times so that their blood sugar stays within target range. Work with your dietitian or diabetes educator to create a healthy eating plan to make it easier to eat well.
The following foods are highlighted by the American Diabetes Association. These foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber that are good for overall health and may also help prevent disease. How many of them can you enjoy this week?
Beans – Kidney, pinto, navy or black beans are packed with vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and potassium. They are very high in fiber too. Beans do contain carbohydrates, but ½ cup also provides as much protein as an ounce of meat without the saturated fat.
Dark green leafy vegetables – Spinach, collards and kale are dark green leafy vegetables packed with vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, E and K, iron, calcium and potassium. These powerhouse foods are low in calories and carbohydrates too. Try adding dark leafy vegetables to salads, soups and stews.
Citrus fruit – Grapefruits, oranges, lemons and limes or pick your favorites to get part of your daily dose of fiber, vitamin C, folate and potassium.
Berries – blueberries, strawberries or others are all packed with antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. Berries can be a great option to satisfy your sweet tooth and they provide an added benefit of vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, potassium and fiber.
Tomatoes – no matter how you like your tomatoes, pureed, raw, or in a sauce, you’re eating vital nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E and potassium.
Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids may help to reduce the risk of heart disease and inflammation. Fish high in these healthy fats are sometimes referred to as “fatty fish.” Salmon is well known in this group. Other fish high in omega-3 are herring, sardines, mackerel, trout and albacore tuna. Choose fish that is broiled, baked or grilled to avoid the carbohydrate and extra calories that would be in fish that is breaded and fried. The American Diabetes Association Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes recommends eating fish (mainly fatty fish) twice per week for people with diabetes.
Nuts – An ounce of nuts can help in getting key healthy fats along with helping to manage hunger. In addition, they offer magnesium and fiber. Some nuts and seeds, such as walnuts and flax seeds, are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Whole grains – The first ingredient on the label should have the word “whole” in it. Whole grains are rich in vitamins and minerals like magnesium, B vitamins, chromium, iron and folate. They are a great source of fiber too. Some examples of whole grains are whole oats, quinoa, whole grain barley and farro.
Milk and yogurt – You may have heard that milk and yogurt can help build strong bones and teeth. In addition to calcium, many milk and yogurt products are fortified to make them a good source of vitamin D. More research is emerging on the connection between vitamin D and good health. Milk and yogurt do contain carbohydrate that will be a factor in meal planning when you have diabetes. Look for yogurt products that are lower in fat and added sugar.
Would you like to learn more about living well with diabetes? The Ohio State University Extension Diabetes Education team is offering three online classes during November. All of the classes are live, online at noon (EST) and on Mondays. The classes are free but you need to register: go.osu.edu/diabetesseries
- Monday November 6, Holiday Snacking Guide
- Monday, November 13, Be Savvy with Holiday Spirits
- Monday, November 20, – Team up with your A1C – Tailgates
Information for this article was from National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Diabetes Association.