People with diabetes can still enjoy a long, healthy life

People with diabetes can still enjoy a long, healthy life by following these tips:

  • Stay updated with the results of A1C tests, blood pressure and bad cholesterol.
  • Work hard to control your results to average levels.
  • Don’t miss appointments with your healthcare team.
  • Take your prescribed medication by your doctor.
  • Include regular physical activities in your lifestyle.
  • Eat healthy.

Don’t miss appointments with your diabetes healthcare team:

Diabetes develops slowly with no visible signs or pain. However, early detection can prevent the major complications of diabetes. You should take your medications as prescribed by your doctor. For example, you need to take the right amount of blood pressure medications, which are usually prescribed for diabetics at the right time, every day. If you are forgetful or if you think one of the medications has an unfavorable side effect, consult your doctor or pharmacists to help you solve the issue.

The A1C test is important for diabetics!

It is a blood test that provides information about a person’s average level of blood glucose, also called blood sugar, it should be conducted every 2-3 months. The A1C test is based on the attachment of glucose to hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. Hemoglobin attaches to glucose in the bloodstream. The higher blood sugar, the more it is attached to hemoglobin. For example, an A1C of diabetics should be less than 7% or as close as possible to non-diabetics. An A1C of 7% is equal to an eAG of 154 mg/dL.

An A1C test should be taken once every 3 months or twice a year at least. It is also important that you know the test result and its impact on your health. Keeping the A1C below 7%, significantly lower the risk of complications from diabetes. Lowering your A1C by 1% means you are lowering the risk of retinopathy (eye damage), nephropathy (kidney disease) and neuropathy (nerve problems) by 37%. Blood sugar levels fluctuate even on the same day. For example, blood sugar levels before having a meal can be lower than after it. Ask your healthcare team about your target glucose levels.

Blood Glucose and A1C Testing Time Normal Levels Target Levels
Before breakfast & meals 70-130 mg/dL
2 hours after meals Less than 180 mg/dL
Before going to bed 90-150 mg/dL

4-6%

People without diabetes

More than 7%

High A1C

Less than 7%

Target A1C levels in people with diabetes
Most people with diabetes can fast if they want to, but it is better to consult your doctor before fasting so that he/she can review your treatment plan and explain any necessary adjustments. Your doctor might advise you against fasting if:
  • You suffer from repeated episodes of hypoglycemia.
  • You have hypoglycemia unawareness, a condition where you are not being able to feel low blood sugar.
  • You cannot control your blood sugar levels.
  • You recently suffered from Diabetic. Ketoacidosis (DKA).
  • You have type 1 diabetes.
  • You have other health problems, such as heart or kidney diseases.
  • You have a temporary injury or illness.
  • You work requires high-intensity physical activity.
  • You are pregnant.
A few tips and guidelines you should take into your account. It is important to consult your doctor about your personalized case:
  • Diabetes medication: Some diabetes medications work well with fasting and others don’t, as they don’t cause low blood sugar. They include metformin, pioglitazone, dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP-4) inhibitors, meglitinide. If you are using insulin injections, your doctor might need to adjust the dose or type of insulin. Reminder: You might still need to take certain medications, even if you haven’t eaten. Make sure to follow the changes made by your doctor.
  • Diet: Eat different food groups that contain carbohydrate, protein and fats. Eat slow-digesting carbs in the Suhoor meal, including wheat, rice, beans, semolina. Make sure to eat more high-fiber foods, including whole wheat, bran bread, grains, beans, brown rice, vegetables and fruits. Add a small amount of healthy fats while cooking, such as olive oil. To prevent dehydration, drink a lot of water after having Iftar (first meal after fasting). Divide the calorie intake through 2-3 light meals to avoid overeating at Iftar. Cut down on sweets.
  • Physical activity: Follow a regular physical activity routine, but avoid high-intensity exercises to mitigate risk of low blood sugar. Try as much as you can to exercise outside fasting hours. Taraweeh prayer is considered a type of physical activity.
  • Monitor your blood sugar level: Check your blood sugar several times a day, especially if you feel symptoms of hypoglycemia or if you don’t feel well.
  • Breaking your fast: You need to eat immediately, if you experience or feel the symptoms of low blood sugar, if your eAG becomes more than 300 mg/dL, if you feel unwell or if you feel extremely thirsty.
Any of the following illnesses might raise blood sugar levels:
  • Cold & Sneezing
  • Surgical procedures
  • Dental issues
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Psychological stress
  • Infections & Injuries

How to take care of myself when I am sick?

  • Take your medication: Take your medication regularly unless your doctor indicated otherwise.
  • Check your blood sugar more often than usual: If you have a common illness, check your blood sugar level 4 times a day. If you have a severe illness, check your blood sugar level every 3-4 hours.
  • Consult a doctor: Consult a doctor to know whether you need to take a ketone test, if your blood sugar level is more than 250.
  • Drink more sugar-free and caffeine-free drinks: Drink at least 170-230 ml of liquids every hour during the day to prevent dehydration.
  • Rest: Get enough rest.
  • Call your doctor: Call your doctor, if you have severe diarrhea, a temperature above 38.5 degrees C, or if your eAG level is above 250 mg/dL for two times in a row.

How do you handle your diabetes on occasions, for e.g. Parties?

Special occasions can be challenging for diabetic people. Events means food, lots of food! Below are a few tips to help you manage your diabetes without any concern of gaining weight or losing control of your blood sugar level:

  • Be realistic! Instead of trying to lose weight during holidays, set a goal to maintain your weight, which is more realistic than the “more or nothing” attitude, which can have a negative impact on a healthy diet.
  • Plan ahead! Don’t go to a party while hungry. Eat a filling snack before going to a party, for e.g. Yoghurt or fruit. Don’t skip your regular daily meals. Make sure to consume carbs equally throughout the day. More importantly, stick to your diet plan.
  • Don’t overeat! Sit far away from the food serving area. Check the food area to choose the food that is suitable for you. Stand at the end of the line to avoid returning to the food area. Take a small portion of your favorite food, eat slowly and enjoy every bite. If you feel you need to go back for more, just wait. Waiting should make you feel full and you won’t need to go back for another serving.
  • Choosing food: Choose vegetables, fruits or foods that contain wheat and grains. Fill your plate with vegetables and low-fat dressing to have a low-fat and low-calorie meal. Avoid fried foods, instead consume steamed, grilled or baked foods. Always keep the allowed portion in mind when you take cookies or cake. It’s easy to forget about portions during social events. Remove the visible fat from meat and avoid chicken skin. Eat your favorite dessert, but control your portion.
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