Having a healthy, balanced lifestyle is important for the health of the nation. It is especially important for people having to manage daily life with diabetes.
A healthy diet and diabetes
Healthy eating is important for everyone and plays a key part in the treatment of diabetes. It is important because it can help:
- Maintain blood glucose (sugar) control and reduce the risk of complications
- Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and the tissue damage associated with high blood glucose levels
- Support management of body weight
- Improve/maintain quality of life
A healthy diet should include a wide variety of foods, not too many fatty and sugary foods, not too much salt and plenty of fiber-rich foods including fruit and vegetables.
Top tips for healthy eating
- Eat 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day
- Reduce fat, especially saturated (animal) fat
- Reduce salt intake – the most effective way of doing this is to cut out as many processed foods as possible
- Increase intake of omega 3 oils – try eating at least two servings of oily fish per week
- Reduce alcohol intake
The benefits of exercise
People who exercise have lower blood pressure, lower heart rates and improved circulation. They also have lower cholesterol and less body fat, as well as higher rates of metabolism and consequently better weight control. They sleep better, have more energy, are less stressed/anxious and tend to be happier and more confident.
Why is exercise important for someone with diabetes?
Exercise is low cost and generally side-effect free. People with diabetes who don’t exercise are three times more likely to have poor diabetes control and more likely to suffer related complications. Exercising regularly also improves sensitivity to the body’s own insulin and the body becomes better at transporting glucose. This happens because exercise stimulates the body’s muscles. It also reduces the level of fat in the body and it is thought that mobilisation of the body’s fat stores by exercising might improve blood glucose control. Less glucose in the blood, because it’s now stored in the body’s muscle, means the blood flows better and some of the blood vessel complications associated with diabetes, may be avoided.
Top tips to get started
- Check with your family doctor or diabetes healthcare provider that your diabetes is presently stable enough to allow you to begin an exercise routine
- Start with small bouts of exercise of around 5-10 minutes per day and build up gradually
- Find an exercise partner to provide motivation and accountability
- Choose something you enjoy as you are more likely to stick at it
- Find out about walking events or other exercise related events in your area
Diabetes Wellness events
Sharing experiences with like-minded people is a great way to feel supported in your efforts to attain a healthy balanced lifestyle and manage your diabetes effectively.
Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2, newly diagnosed or ‘old hat’, parent or carer, attending a Diabetes Wellness event is a great way to meet new friends, share stories of living with diabetes, learn about all aspects of the condition and related health from a host of clinicians and healthcare professionals, in a relaxed and friendly environment.