Diabetes is a chronic disease that can cause serious complications. But there is some good news: You can take some important steps to manage your diabetes more effectively and reduce your risks of complications. Here’s what to do.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans diagnosed with diabetes, you know that managing your glucose levels is vitally important for your overall health and wellness. You probably also know that diabetes can increase your risks of a lot of serious medical complications. 

With offices in Gaithersburg, Germantown, Rockville and Columbia, Maryland, Doctors First PC makes it easy to stay on top of diabetes treatment with customized plans based on your health profile, your lifestyle, and other factors unique to you. 

Reviewing your diabetes management plan and adjusting it when needed is an important part of avoiding problems. Since November is American Diabetes Month®, that means now is a great time to fine-tune your diabetes management plan with a few simple tips from our team.

1. Watch out for ‘sneaky’ carbs

It’s (usually) easy to spot refined carbs, like white bread and pastas, when planning your diet. But some carbs can “hide” where you least expect them — like in processed foods or sauces. Always read food labels and pick carbs that are dense in nutrients to get the most benefits.

2. Aim for a healthy weight

If you’re already at your healthy goal weight, fantastic! Many of us, though, struggle with keeping those pounds off. In fact, about three-quarters of Americans 20 and older are overweight or obese. 

Extra pounds increase your risks of many serious medical problems, including diabetes. Losing weight helps stabilize the way your body produces and uses insulin. Plus, it helps you stay more active, which can help with the next item on this list.

3. Get more exercise

Daily physical activity offers loads of health benefits, including help[ing you maintain a healthy weight and keeping glucose and insulin levels in balance. Plus, exercise is good for your cardiovascular system, helping reduce your risk of heart and vessel problems more common with diabetes. Bonus: Regular exercise also helps reduce stress (see our next tip).

4. Work on reducing stress

When you feel stressed out, your body responds by increasing glucose levels, decreasing insulin levels, and causing insulin sensitivity to decline. Not only does this make it much harder to manage glucose and keep it within a healthy range, but it can also increase your risk of diabetes symptoms.

Reducing stress doesn’t have to be complicated; even a few simple breathing exercises throughout the day can help. So can setting aside some daily “me time” for a relaxing activity you enjoy.

5. Keep an eye on your feet

Diabetes affects your circulation and your nerves, increasing your risk of slow-to-heal foot sores or ulcers. Delayed healing means you’re more likely to develop serious infections that can even lead to amputation. 

If you have diabetes, even something as minor as a blister or ingrown toenail can have serious consequences. Giving yourself a daily foot exam plays an important role in catching issues early so they can be treated. 

6. Quit smoking

Smoking increases your risks of heart disease, kidney damage, and nerve problems — all major health problems that are more common among people with diabetes. Nicotine also increases insulin resistance

Quitting isn’t easy, and there’s no reason to try to do it all on your own. Ask our team about resources and programs that can help you kick the habit for good.

7. Get plenty of sleep

Saving the best for last! Losing weight, counting carbs, and watching your diet take effort, but the results are certainly worth it. Still, for many of us, catching some more Zs is a lot more fun.

Data show that when you don’t get enough sleep, it throws off your metabolism and makes you crave more food. It also increases insulin resistance, making it harder for you to manage your glucose levels. AIm for 7-8 hours of sleep a night, and don’t be afraid of a little catnap (as long as it won’t make it harder to sleep at night).

One more tip: See your doctor regularly

Diabetes is a chronic disease, and that means you need routine doctor visits to keep your management plan on track. Visiting regularly also gives our team a chance to monitor your heart health, check your feet, and provide you with lifestyle tips to help you live your best, healthiest life.

To learn more about how we can help you manage your diabetes and prevent complications, book an appointment online or over the phone at Doctors First today.