If you are concerned about a recent medical test revealing high blood sugar, you aren’t alone. High blood glucose is more commonplace than you think. What’s more, there are several things you can do to balance your glucose levels and minimise the risk of developing diabetes, or even manage an existing diabetic condition more effectively. The effects of high blood glucose on your health and quality of life can be detrimental, so it’s important you learn to how to prevent or manage high blood sugar for a healthier and happier life.
High blood glucose prevention
People often assume that high blood glucose is something that comes with age and can’t be avoided. In fact, you can actually prevent blood sugar spikes and lower the risk of potential consequences. If your blood glucose levels are normal, here’s what you can do:
- Weight loss and/or management – Studies show that BMI and blood glucose are strongly correlated. In many cases, high blood sugar and excess weight go hand in hand. Therefore, in order to prevent an increase in blood glucose, weight management is crucial, especially if you are overweight or obese. Otherwise, strive to keep your weight within a healthy range.
- Regular physical activity – Exercise lowers blood sugar, helps in weight management, and enhances insulin sensitivity, which in turn keeps blood glucose within a normal range. Any physical activity that incorporates a mixture of both aerobic exercise and resistance training provides maximum benefit. Ideally, you should do something you really enjoy because that way, you’re more likely to stick to it.
- Healthy diet – A vast majority of people consume an unhealthy diet which can lead to weight gain and high blood sugar. To keep blood glucose within a normal range and to prevent excess weight gain, it’s a good idea to ditch sugar, junk food, and other foods with little to no nutritional value. Instead, incorporate fibre-rich foods, and a low-carb & low-glycaemic diet.
- Healthy lifestyle – Focus on creating healthy habits to ensure your blood sugar remains within a normal range. Be mindful of what you do and consume. Take some time off for yourself; partake in activities that relieve stress; practice yoga or meditation. Quit smoking, and moderate your alcohol consumption.
Management of pre-diabetes
Pre-diabetes indicates blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. We can consider pre-diabetes to be a warning sign or wakeup call. When your doctor diagnoses you with pre-diabetes, it means you still have a chance to reverse your high blood glucose level and ensure it’s in a healthy range again. Studies show that lifestyle interventions may decrease the risk of pre-diabetes progressing to diabetes for as long as ten years. What does this entail? It's similar to the prevention of high blood glucose as mentioned above. If you have pre-diabetes, you can indeed reverse it by losing weight, exercising regularly, eating healthily and making healthy lifestyle choices. Instead of unhealthy foods– especially sugar- and fat-laden ones– opt for a well-balanced diet with fibre and low-glycaemic or low-carb alternatives. Stick to healthy lifestyle measures, and you'll notice improvements in your blood glucose levels.
Management of diabetes
In our previous article we discussed the dangers of high blood sugar and diabetes, which emphasise the importance of a proactive approach toward their management. High blood glucose puts you at a higher risk of kidney damage, nerve damage, and slows wound healing, among other things. Diabetes is a lifelong condition, but there are numerous ways to manage high blood glucose levels and prevent the above-mentioned complications.
The following measures will help you manage your diabetic condition more effectively:
- Healthy diet – While this was aforementioned as vital for glucose management, it becomes even more crucial for diabetic patients. If you have diabetes, following a strict diet is mandatory. Choose foods that are rich in fibre to aid digestion, consume healthy fats, and ditch the unhealthy saturated and trans-fats from your diet. At the same time, aim to consume low-glycaemic foods and reduce sodium intake. Enrich your diet with healthy foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and other important nutrients.
Lifestyle – diabetes management would be incomplete without healthy lifestyle measures that include:
- Losing excess weight – This becomes crucial if you are diabetic. Focus on healthy lifestyle changes and lose your weight in slow, progressive way – leave crash diets out of the picture. That way, you’ll be able to keep the weight off.
- Physical activity – A sedentary lifestyle paves the way for obesity and other health conditions; needless to say it aggravates blood glucose levels and makes the management of diabetes more difficult. Strive to exercise regularly and stay active.
- Minimise unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking– Nicotine in cigarettes causes the blood vessels to harden and narrow, thus slowing blood circulation around the body. Drinking alcohol may result in an unnecessary sugar spike, which is far from ideal if your blood sugar levels aren’t kept under control. It’s best to quit smoking altogether and check with your doctor to see if minimal alcohol consumption is allowed.
- Proactive approach – Make it a point to learn as much as you can about high blood glucose and diabetes, keep abreast with new studies and discoveries that are published regularly. The more you understand about your condition, the better.
- Medication – Regular visits to your doctor’s office are important. Follow doctor-recommended treatment, take medications that are prescribed, and be sure to ask about supplements you can use for better management of high blood sugar. There are many natural products on the market, but it’s always good to consult your doctor before purchasing any.
- Allied health – Additional specialists are available for a holistic management of diabetes. Such examples include a diabetic educator who can provide insights into your condition, aggravating factors, and provide actionable steps for successful management. A diabetic nurse helps monitor blood sugar levels and educates patients about diabetes. Likewise, an eye specialist is there to check whether diabetes has affected your retina and preventative measures to adopt, where necessary. Talk to your diabetic specialist about crisis management– such as what to do when you have low blood glucose (hypoglycaemia) with displayed symptoms, and diabetic ketoacidosis, which is life-threatening, with glucose levels dangerously high and showing various symptoms.
High glucose levels can bring about many health complications besides diabetes. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to either prevent blood sugar spiralling out of control, reverse pre-diabetes, or manage diabetes more effectively. Remember, how readily you take on a proactive approach to your health is up to you.