Diabetes is a problem that affects millions of Americans across the country. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100 million American adults are living with diabetes or prediabetes. The condition disproportionately affects older adults, with 25 percent of adults 65 years and older dealing with the problem.
Older adults, and everyone who deals with diabetes or is at risk of dealing with diabetes, should learn more about the disease and about the potential problems it can lead to. It is also important to learn how to control diabetes and the symptoms related to the issue.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease in which a person has blood glucose, or blood sugar levels that are too high. Glucose comes from foods that you eat. Those who have problems with diabetes, insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into the cells to give them energy.
Too much glucose in the blood can damage your body over time and can lead to a number of different problems. Some of the common issues that those with diabetes deal with include damage to the eyes, kidneys, and nerves. It can also lead to heart disease, stroke, and more.
Type 1 Diabetes
For those with type 1 diabetes, your pancreas does not make insulin. Insulin, again, is the hormone that helps glucose get into your cells to give them energy.Without insulin, too much glucose can stay in the blood and lead to serious problems with your heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and more.
Type 2 Diabetes
The more common type of diabetes is type 2. Your body does not make or use insulin well. People who are older, have obesity, do not exercise, or have a family history of diabetes are at a higher risk of developing the problem.
Prediabetes means that your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not enough to be called diabetes. People with prediabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Blood tests can show if you have diabetes and one type of test can check on how you are managing the problem. Luckily, there are things that you can do to help control your problem including exercise, weight control, and a meal plan.
Foods For People With Diabetes
Obviously, the primary goal for the management of diabetes is to achieve regulation of blood glucose as much as possible. To do this, there are some general rules and guidelines that you should try to follow when it comes to your diet. Some of these food tips for diabetes include:
- Carbohydrate intake should come from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and dairy products over other sources such as fats, sugars, and sodium.
- Monitor carbohydrates, it is a key to establishing glycemic control.
- Substitute low-glycemic foods for high-glycemic foods can help to moderately improve glycemic control.
- Consume at least the daily recommended intake of fiber and whole grains.
- Use nonnutritive sweeteners to reduce overall calorie and carbohydrate intake
For specifics on what to eat for your diet, there are a few types of foods that you should prioritize. A healthy diet for diabetes looks fairly similar to a healthy diet for anyone.
This includes a diet that features lots of fruit, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein. It also means less salt, sugar, and foods that are high in refined carbs.
Some recommended foods that people with diabetes should eat include:
- Fruits: berries, grapes, cherries, apples, plums
- Vegetables: cauliflower, onions, eggplant, turnips
- Proteins: poultry, fish, eggs, unsalted seafood
- Carbs: white bread, bagels, pasta, unsalted crackers
- Drinks: water, diet sodas, unsweetened tea
Along with changing or altering your diet, there are many other things that you can do to improve your situation and control your diabetes.
Like everyone, being healthy doesn’t just have to do with your diet. You should focus on other things such as exercise and staying active to help you with your overall weight regulation efforts. All forms of exercise, including aerobic, resistance, and a combination, have been shown to be equally effective in helping those with diabetes.
Exercise will help control weight, lower blood pressure, reduce harmful cholesterol, strengthen the muscles and bones, reduce anxiety, and increase self-confidence.
For those with diabetes specifically, it can lead to a number of other positive benefits including improving your blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. If you have diabetes, it is best to exercise one to three hours after eating when the blood sugar level is likely to be higher than normal.
During exercise it is important to be aware of symptoms of low blood sugar. Some of these symptoms include feeling shaky, weak, or confused. If you are experiencing any of these issues, you should stop exercising.
And after exercising, you should also check your blood sugar. The more strenuous workout, the more it can affect your blood sugar. One tip for helping with this is to eat a slower-acting carbohydrate snacks such as granola bars or trail mix.
Exercise holds a number of benefits, but it is important to be cautious and careful when it comes to exercising when you have diabetes.
Obviously, diabetes can be a problem for many older adults. In many cases, diabetes can be debilitating and lead to older adults struggling to live independently. Luckily, there are options for people who have these problems. Caretakers and assisted living facilities are available to help your loved one if they are dealing with this issue or something else.
Landmark Senior Living is one assisted living facility in New Mexico that is dedicated to providing your loved one with the quality care they deserve at this chapter in their lives. Our staff has the tools and knowledge to make our residents time with us as enjoyable and safe as possible. If you are interested in learning more about what Landmark has to offer, please visit our website and reach out to schedule a free tour of one of our facilities.