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Diabetes Management: How Lifestyle, Daily Routine Affect Blood Sugar

Diabetes management requires education. Find out what causes your blood sugar to spike and decrease, and implement strategies to manage these fluctuations on a daily basis.

It might be difficult to maintain blood sugar levels within the healthy range set by your doctor. That’s because fluctuations in your blood sugar may be caused by a wide variety of factors. Several of the following are potential causes of high or low blood sugar levels.

Factors Affecting Blood Sugar Level

It’s possible that a person’s blood sugar level is heavily influenced by their daily lifestyle factors such as nutrition, alcohol use, sickness, and so on. Here are some things to keep in mind that might help you keep your blood sugar level steady.

Food

What you consume is crucial to your health, whether you have diabetes or not. If you have diabetes, though, you need to be aware of how different meals influence your blood sugar. It’s not only what you eat, but how much of it, and what you eat it with, that matters.

What to do:

The importance of understanding carbohydrate counts and serving sizes cannot be overstated. Learning how to measure carbs is often a fundamental part of diabetes management programmes. Most foods, but especially carbohydrates, may raise or lower blood sugar levels. When taking insulin before a meal, it’s crucial to account for the carbohydrate content of what you’re eating in order to inject the right quantity.

Master the art of portion control by discovering the ideal serving sizes for various foods. Keeping track of typical serving sizes for your favorite foods might help you save time while preparing meals. Make sure your portion sizes are right and your carb counts are precise by using measuring cups or a scale.

Maintain a steady diet of well-balanced meals.

Incorporate a variety of grains, fruits, vegetables, proteins, and fats into your diet every day. Pay close attention to the kinds of carbs you consume.

Carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, for example, are healthier than those found in processed foods. These items are low in carbs and high in fiber, both of which contribute to more consistent blood sugar levels. If you have questions about what foods to eat and how much of each, see your doctor, nurse, or nutritionist.

Coordinate your meals and medications. 

Inadequate nutrition in relation to diabetic treatments, particularly insulin, may cause life-threatening low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). If you eat too much, your blood sugar level might become dangerously high (hyperglycemia). Discuss your meal and medication timing needs with your diabetic care team.

Cut down on sugar-sweetened beverages.

Sugary drinks are often rich in calories but low in nutrients. In addition, diabetics should stay away from these beverages since they induce a sharp increase in blood sugar levels. If you have low blood sugar, however, this rule does not apply to you. Blood sugar may be raised fast with the help of sugary drinks like soda, juice, and sports drinks.

Exercise

Working out regularly should be a component of any strategy for diabetes management. Sugar (glucose) is broken down and used by your muscles as fuel when you work them out. Physical exercise improves insulin sensitivity in the body. Your blood sugar will go down because of all these things. More intense exercise has longer-lasting results. However, even very mild tasks, such as cleaning, gardening, or being on one’s feet for long periods of time, might enhance one’s blood sugar.

What to do:

Get on an exercise regimen after seeing your doctor.

Talk to your doctor about what kind of physical activity is safe for you. The American Heart Association recommends that individuals engage in moderate aerobic exercise for at least 150 minutes each week. On most days of the week, you should try to get in 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise.

Your doctor may do additional tests to evaluate your general health if you’ve been inactive for an extended period of time. The trainer can help you find the optimal combination of aerobic and strength training sessions.

Maintain a regular workout routine.

Consult your physician about when you should exercise so that you may plan your workouts around your food and pill times.

It’s important to be numerate. Before beginning an exercise routine, you and your doctor should discuss what blood sugar levels are safe for you to maintain.

Check your blood sugar level. 

If you are using insulin or other drugs that reduce blood sugar, be sure to monitor your blood sugar before, during, and after exercise. Even a day after exercising, particularly if it is a new activity or if you are exercising more intensely, your blood sugar levels may still be lower than they were before. Keep an eye out for symptoms of low blood sugar, such as shakiness, weakness, fatigue, hunger, dizziness, irritability, anxiety, and confusion.

Have a modest snack before you begin exercising to avoid a low blood sugar level if you are an insulin user and your blood sugar level is below 90 milligrammes per deciliter (mg/dL), or 5.0 millimoles per liter (mmol/L).

Stay hydrated. 

In order to prevent low blood sugar levels when exercising, it is important to drink enough water or other fluids.

Be prepared. 

If your blood sugar goes too low during activity, you should always keep a small snack or glucose pills on hand. Put on a bracelet with your medical info on it.

Make necessary changes to your current diabetes management strategy.

If you use insulin, you should probably lower your insulin dosage before working out, and keep an eye on your blood sugar for at least a few hours afterward if you exert yourself very hard. In case you need to make adjustments to your pharmaceutical regimen, your doctor will be able to provide you expert guidance. If you’ve just started exercising more, talk to your doctor about making some adjustments to your therapy.

Medication

When diet and exercise aren’t enough for diabetes management, a doctor may prescribe insulin or another diabetic medicine to help bring your blood sugar levels down to a more normal range. However, the time and quantity of these doses greatly affect the drugs’ efficacy. In addition to diabetes medication, the blood sugar levels might be impacted by the medication you take for other diseases.

What to do:

Store insulin properly. 

Improperly kept or expired insulin may not work. Insulin’s sensitivity to heat and cold is unparalleled.

Go see your doctor if you’re having issues.

The amount or timing of your diabetic medication may need to be altered if it causes your blood sugar level to drop too low or remain persistently high.

Take new drugs with caution.

If you have diabetes and are considering taking an over-the-counter medication or your doctor has prescribed a new drug to treat another condition, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist if taking the drug will have any effect on your blood sugar levels.

It’s possible that your doctor may advise you to try a different drug. Make sure you know how any new over-the-counter drug will affect your blood sugar level before using it.

Illness

Stress hormones help the body fight against infection, but they also boost blood sugar, which is why it’s important to monitor your health closely while you’re unwell. Diabetes management might be more challenging if you have a shift in your typical eating and exercise habits.

What to do:

Plan ahead. 

Prepare for sick days by conferring with your healthcare provider. Be careful to include the medicines you need to take, the frequency with which you should check your blood sugar and urine ketone levels, how frequently you should change your dose, and when you should contact your doctor.

Keep taking your diabetic medication as directed.

But if you’re not able to keep anything down due to sickness, it’s time to call the doctor. Because of the potential for hypoglycemia, you may need to make changes to your insulin dosage or temporarily decrease or withhold short-acting insulin or diabetic medicine under these conditions. You should keep taking your long-acting insulin, however. Keeping a close eye on your blood sugar levels during sickness is crucial, and your doctor may also recommend testing your urine for ketones.

Stay on track with your diabetic diet.

Maintaining your regular eating habits is the best way to keep your blood sugar stable. Store a variety of bland meals like gelatin, crackers, soups, and applesauce in the fridge.

Staying hydrated is essential, so drink plenty of water or other low-calorie beverages like tea. You may need to consume juice or a sports drink with added sugar if you take insulin to prevent a dip in blood sugar.

Alcohol

To prevent dangerously low blood sugar, the liver secretes sugar from its reserve supply. However, if your liver is already working hard to process alcoholic beverages, it may not be able to provide the necessary increase to your blood sugar level. Shortly after consuming alcohol, and for up to 24 hours thereafter, low blood sugar might occur.

What to do:

Get your doctor’s OK to drink alcohol. 

Diabetes-related nerve and ocular problems might be made worse by drinking alcohol. However, if your blood sugar levels are under control and your doctor gives you the go light, drinking alcohol on occasion is safe.

One drink per day is considered moderate for women of any age and men over the age of 65, whereas two drinks per day is considered moderate for males under the age of 65. One drink is equivalent to one 12-ounce beer, one 5-ounce wine glass, or one 1.5-ounce shot of liquor.

Don’t drink alcoholic beverages on an empty stomach. 

If you have diabetes and use insulin or other drugs, you should eat before you drink or drink with a meal to avoid a drop in blood sugar levels.

Choose your drinks carefully. 

Light beer and dry wines are healthier options since they include less calories and carbs. Blood sugar levels won’t spike if you combine your beverages with sugar-free mixers such diet soda, diet tonic, club soda, or seltzer.

Keep track of your calorie intake.

Don’t forget to include in the calories from alcohol to your daily total. Consult your physician or nutritionist for advice on how to include the calories and carbs found in alcoholic beverages into your diet.

Check your blood sugar level before bed. 

Check your blood sugar level before bedtime since alcohol may continue to reduce blood sugar levels for hours after consumption has stopped. If your blood sugar level drops below 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L), you should have a snack before bed.

Stress

Increased blood sugar levels have been linked to stress because of the stress hormones the body releases. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed, it might be much more difficult to stick to your regular schedule for diabetes care.

What to do:

Look for patterns. 

When recording your blood sugar levels, also note your stress level on a scale from 1 to 10. There may be a trend developing.

Take control. 

Once you’re aware of how stress impacts your blood sugar, you can take preventative measures. Master the art of relaxing, learn to set priorities, and establish boundaries. Avoid sources of stress as much as you can. Stress and blood sugar levels are two things that may benefit from some physical activity.

Obtain aid.

Enhance your ability to deal with anxiety by studying new coping mechanisms. The services of a psychologist or clinical social worker may be useful in determining the sources of your stress, resolving those sources, and developing more effective methods of dealing with them.

Understanding the elements that affect your blood sugar level can help you better predict and prepare for variations. Help is available from your diabetes management team if you are experiencing problems maintaining a blood sugar level within the normal range.

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