Welcome to Diabetes Prevention Thursdays! Today, let’s talk about how to monitor your blood sugar. Possibly one of the harder things to get used to after initially being diagnosed with diabetes is the blood checks you have to perform on yourself on a consistent basis. The blood checks will measure the amount of sugar in your blood, also known as your blood glucose level or blood sugar.
If your blood sugar gets too low or too high, as a diabetic, you can be in some serious trouble. Therefore, its very important that you keep regular track of your blood sugar, preferably logging it in some kind of journal to share with your doctor.
Typically, youll be checking your blood sugar around five times per day, every day. This may sound excessive, but your blood sugar changes a lot throughout the day, and you need to keep consistent track of it, or you may encounter some severe issues.
You should typically check your blood sugar levels before you eat a meal, so the results arent affected or skewed in any way. Before your next meal, your levels should have returned back to the base number.
This will give you a better idea of what your regular sugar levels are, and if they’re too high or too low. Depending on which glucose monitor you buy, your means of actually recording your sugar levels will be a bit different, but they’re all fairly similar.
Once you’re used to the process, it becomes like second nature, but at first it will be a bit difficult. Be sure that you continue getting the same lancets and test strips that go with your kit, though.
These are fairly inexpensive to replace, as 100 packs of both are available for under $20 for the test strips and under $5 for the lancets. First, you’ll clean and prepare the place you’re drawing blood from, as to avoid any chance of infection.
Next, you’ll use the lancing device to prick your finger. This sounds scary at first, but its typically pretty painless. Be sure to use the side of your fingertip instead of the pad, because the pad has more nerve endings and it will hurt more.
Finally, you’ll touch the test strip to the blood drop and wait for the meter to show your results. Depending on a lot of different factors, the healthy glucose level can differ greatly, so be sure to consult your doctor and find out what range you should be aiming for.
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I wanted to talk about this topic because it is absolutely possible to prevent and even reverse Type 2 Diabetes (but you cannot reverse Type 1). Yes, it’s possible! and emerging studies looking at lifestyle medicine and prevention support this! But I always tell my patients that you must be dedicated and diligent in adopting a healthy lifestyle to get the best results. You can create certain behaviors and practices that will not only enrich your life, but that you can pass on to your family, friends, and community, to help break the cycle of this chronic disease so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve your blood sugar levels, maybe reverse type 2 diabetes. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Tools For Diabetes Prevention and Monitoring
Blood Sugar Monitoring
As you know, I always stress the importance of taking control of your health. Monitoring your blood sugar levels is one of the best ways to do this. To do this, a single drop of blood is collected with disposable lancets and placed on a disposable test strip, which you insert into a home blood-sugar monitoring device, called a glucometer.
The common times for checking your blood sugar are when you first wake up (fasting), before a meal, 2 hours after a meal, and at bedtime; however, you should check your blood sugar as many times a day as your health care team suggests.
Monitoring your blood sugar level provides you and your doctors with important knowledge about how food, activity, medication, stress, and other elements might affect your blood sugar levels. This data will assist you and your doctor in developing a therapy plan that is suited to your demands.
Since weight management is very important in combatting chronic diseases such as diabetes, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor (*this scale cannot be used with a pacemaker or other implanted devices).
Physical activity (or exercise) can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several chronic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few. Physical activity actually improves insulin sensitivity. Physical activity can improve your mood, boost your immune system, and even help you maintain a healthy weight.
I often recommend yoga and resistance training for physical activity, but as you are aware, there are plenty of forms of “movement” that you can do! But for the basics, especially if you’re just getting started, yoga and resistance training are where I would start.
Yoga can be a great way to improve your strength and flexibility, manage your stress, improve your heart health, and lose weight! I recommend using a grounded yoga mat to connect yourself with the earth and reduce inflammation.
Resistance training is the mainstay for overall health. It not only has beneficial effects on reducing body fat, it also increases muscle size and strength. Here are some basic dumbbells/free weights that I recommend to everyone.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet and regular physical activity are the best ways to prevent diabetes. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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