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Comer de manera saludable sí, pero... ¿cómo conseguirlo? Foto by Katie Smith
Comer de manera saludable sí, pero... ¿cómo conseguirlo? Foto by Katie Smith

The three pillars for diabetic patients

Experts recommend that diabetics particularly focus on their nutrition, regular physical activity and assessing the results.  

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Over 29 million Americans suffer from diabetes, a disease consisting of the body’s inability to produce the necessary insulin to enable the ingested glucose to be used as energy. This situation increases blood sugar to dangerous levels that can produce serious health problems for the patient.

There are different types of diabetes, with type 2 diabetes being the most widely spread among the population. The risk of developing this disease increases with age. Nonetheless, more and more children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, largely because many of them are overweight. Overall, the age group with the highest rates of diabetes is still adults between the ages of 40 and 59.  

In November, the month dedicated to diabetes research, experts remind those suffering from this disease that measuring their insulin levels is not the only change in lifestyle they must make. The emergence of diabetes requires regular nutritional and dietary control, as well as increased physical activity. The patient will only be able to take control of this disease by following these guidelines and introducing new habits.  

Despite how obvious this advice might be, patients frequently find it difficult to follow — especially when they are first diagnosed and the physician’s recommended diet seems restricted, boring and hard to combine with an active social lifestyle.

More than Healthy Eating

Today “eating healthy” seems to have become a catch-all recommendation for those suffering from any type of disease. Given this overall advice, many diabetics think that all they need to do is avoid foods with high concentrations of sugar. However, experts remind us that there are much more detailed dietary guidelines to follow for this disease.   

One of the most common pieces of advice provided to diabetics is to eat moderately, always choosing those foods included in the “Best Foods” list. Throughout the development of this disease, however, patients will at times find themselves feeling the need to eat specific foods that are not included on this list. Just as is the case with weight disorders, knowing the emotional and psychological relationship that a patient has with these types of foods is essential to ensure a change of habit leading the patient to choose healthier food alternatives.

Asking questions such as: “Am I feeling bored, tired or sad?” or “Am I using food as a reward?” can provide the necessary clues to identify foods that we have an emotional relationship with. This step is essential when we intend to replace these forbidden foods with healthier options. These alternatives do not necessarily have to be other foods; consumption can possibly be replaced by another more beneficial type of habit, such as taking a stroll or enjoying a cup of tea.

Realistic Goals

Diabetes is frequently related to lack of physical activity. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exercising less than three times a week is one of the risk factors of developing type 2 diabetes.

When the feared diabetes diagnosis hits, patients are not only informed that they must control their diet for the rest of their lives, but also that they must increase and maintain a minimum level of physical activity. This news is surprising for those who do not regularly exercise and find themselves a bit baffled about where to begin.

The best advice for these patients is to start by setting realistic goals in terms of exercise. The doctor may recommend exercising three times a week. However, if the patient has never practiced exercise, wouldn’t it be easier to begin by exercising once a week and gradually  increase training sessions?

Taking Sundays to program training throughout the week, setting specific times to practice sports, and finding someone to train with, are some of the ways that patients can establish the first routines.

The key — experts remind us — is to begin exercising as soon as possible and gradually increase the amount of exercise in the patient’s daily lifestyle. Setting strict routines from the onset rarely works and often does not continue over time.

Time to Assess

The road for diabetes patients is complex and filled with obstacles. Dedicating time to assessing the situation is a wise recommendation. Sitting down to review what occurred during the week, studying those times when we have decided to skip the dietary recommendations and trying to find out why we did this, as well as celebrating our progress, is no doubt the most effective way to continue to fight this disease.

Diabetes among Latinos

It is estimated that more than one out of every three American adults suffer from prediabetes. This means that blood sugar levels are higher than normal but have not yet reached diabetes-marked levels. Those with prediabetes are at greater risk of suffering from type 2 diabetes, heart disease and strokes.

We may unknowingly suffer from prediabetes since it is non-symptomatic. This means that nine out of 10 people are unaware that they are suffering from prediabetes. Therefore, keeping all regular medical examination visits set by the physician and following their instructions are of vital importance.

The risk of suffering from diabetes for the Latino population is even higher. According to the CDC, Latinos have a  50 percent higher probability of dying from diabetes than whites. Factors such as eating habits or lack of physical activity contribute to this high risk. Regular checkups and following the physician’s guidelines can help reduce the number of Latinos affected by diabetes, and prevent the onset of this disease.

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