BY DR LYDIA THURTON
Being diabetic doesn’t have to severely impact your quality of life. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to have a take-charge attitude. Be empowered about making the right health decisions. This weeks article will be discussing the common mistakes I see my diabetic patients making. Good news! All of these errors are easy to correct.
Critical mistake #1 – not taking metformin properly. Metformin has many positive health benefits for diabetics. Patients do not realize that diabetes can put you at risk for certain cancers. Endometrial, pancreatic and kidney cancer risk increase with a diagnosis of diabetes. This drug cuts the risk of cancer for diabetics by 50%. Use metformin to reduce this risk. Metformin can also help you control your weight and produces anti aging effects. Take this drug as prescribed! It can prevent you from having to take greater doses of stronger more dangerous medications down the road.
The second mistake I commonly see is patients not taking their blood sugar at the right times. Know what your sugar is upon waking and two hours after meals. Take it regularly at consistent times and keep a record. This information helps your doctor make the right decisions for your diabetes management. Secondary to this, do not avoid your routine blood work. When your doctor sends you to get your blood sugar checked. Go! Knowledge is power.
Making excuses not to exercise is a huge mistake. Diabetic patients need physical activity to keep blood sugar levels in check and to manage their weight. Even ten minutes a day, over time, will create significant metabolic changes. As we age our fat mass tends to increase and our muscle mass decreases. Muscle mass is what we call metabolically active, meaning it burns calories and sugar all day long.
There are over fifty different words that mean sugar on food labels. This is very confusing for patients. Knowing that many people, not just diabetics, are watching sugar intake, food companies have gotten creative and disguise sugar content by using different words. Anything that ends in –ose is a sugar. Fructose, sucrose and glucose are all sugars. Cane syrups, high fructose corn syrup and even things that sound healthy like rice syrup are all sugar. Agave nectar is one particular health food that people often think is a safe alternative to sugar. It isn’t. It contains high amounts of fructose a sugar that has negative consequence for diabetes.
By far the biggest error is ignoring your diabetes because you feel “fine.” Diabetes is a disease that needs to be respected. Long term implications of poor blood sugar control are serious. By following these tips you don’t have to be at the mercy of your blood sugar swings. Take control! Eat smart!