Diabetes is a condition in which the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood are too high.
There are two types of diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes, this is when your body doesn’t produce any insulin (the hormone that controls the level of glucose in your blood).
Type 2 Diabetes, when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or isn’t able to use the insulin that is being produced.
It is estimated that around 3 million people in the UK have diabetes and worryingly the number is continuing to increase. Unfortunately people with diabetes are more likely to develop coronary heart disease and have a heart attack. Although diabetes can’t be cured, it can be managed very efficiently with lifestyle changes and medicines.
So what can you do to control your diabetes and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
1. Keep Physically Active
Exercising is a great way to help you control your blood glucose, providing a way that you might be able to reduce your medication and insulin intake. Aim for 150 minutes (2 hours and a half) of moderate intensity activity a week (i.e. walking or cycling) and then gradually build it up.
2. Stop Smoking
Diabetes increases the damage done by smoking, so quitting is the most positive thing that you can do to protect your heart and improve your health. Want to stop smoking? Talk to your GP or visit websites such as: www.smokefree.nhs.uk or www.quit.org.uk to get advice and support.
3. Eat More Healthily
Eating a balanced diet means making sure that you eat a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. Aim to have two portions of fish a week, reduce the amount of salt and sugar that you eat, cut down on alcohol (no more than 3-4 units a day for men and 2-3 units a day for women), eat high-fibre foods (i.e. oats, pulses and kidney beans) and cut down on saturated fats (i.e. butter, cheese, red and processed meats).
4. Try to Control or Prevent High Blood Pressure
Check your blood pressure regularly and make sure it’s below 130/80 mmHg. Some people need to take medicines to control their blood pressure but keep in mind that losing weight, exercising, cutting down on alcohol and salt are fundamental parts of the process too.
5. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Losing some weight can help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. To find out if you’re a healthy shape, measure your waist to see if you’re carrying too much weight around your middle. For men being at risk means having a waist measurement of 94 cm/ 37 inches and for women 80 cm/ 31 and a half inches.
6. Keep blood sugar at a good level
Following the above steps will help you to control your blood glucose. However, people with diabetes will need to take tablets or daily insulin injections to keep their glucose down effectively.
To find out more about diabetes and how you can get help visit: www.diabetes.org.uk