5 Tips to Manage Diabetes

Diabetologist Dr V Mohan tells you how to keep your blood sugar in check.

In India, approximately 77 million people are living with diabetes. The figure is only expected to double in the next two decades.

As per a 2021 report published in Medical News Today (extrenal link), people who live in cities and metropolitan areas in India are more likely to develop diabetes due to increasing body mass index (BMI).

Higher BMI, caused due to an unhealthy lifestyle is a common risk factor for diabetes.

Needless to say, diabetes control is of paramount importance in India to protect people against the ill-effects of uncontrolled blood sugar levels.

The negative impact of poor blood sugar levels management in a person is amplified in the event of an infection, ailment or even surgery.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the need to manage blood sugar levels and prevent complications which have been recorded to be more for people with diabetes.

Here are some simple measures you can take to control diabetes and keep your blood sugar in check.

1. Screening/testing for diabetes

As many as 50% of people with diabetes remain undiagnosed.

Screening everyone who comes to any doctor’s clinic for any illness, especially for diabetes is important.

By-standers and relatives of patients should also be screened, even if it is with a simple glucometer.

This opportunistic screening can also be done at workplaces, corporates, educational institutions, parks, beaches, and religious places.

By doing this, people with undiagnosed diabetes can be detected and treated on time.

2. Maintain healthy blood sugar levels

Everyone with diabetes must test their blood sugar levels both before and after food at periodic intervals.

It is good discipline to maintain ‘before food’ blood sugar levels between 100-110 mg/dL and ‘after food’ blood sugar levels less than 160mg/dl.

Aim to bring the glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) levels (3 months’ control test) of every person with diabetes to be below 7%.

Wherever possible, test the ‘time in range’ of people with diabetes using continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) and see that at least 70% of the day, blood sugar levels are maintained within the range prescribed by your physician.

3. Follow a healthy diet

People with diabetes must follow a healthy diet with less carbohydrate (rice or wheat), more plant protein (like bengal gram, green gram, or rajma) and plenty of green leafy vegetables and healthy fats including nuts and seeds.

4. Exercise

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, you must follow a regular exercise regime.

Include at least 30 minutes of physical activity — walking, jogging or whatever you feel is comfortable.

You can also enhance your lung capacity and minimise stress through yoga and/or pranayama.

5. Regular follow up and medication

Don’t forget to take prescribed antidiabetic medication regularly and follow up with routine health check-ups with your family physician.

Visit a diabetes clinic at least once in 3 to 4 months for expert advice and guidance.

Dr V Mohan is chairman and chief diabetologist at Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, Chennai.

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