Dealing with Diabetes: The 5 Prong Fitness Approach for Caregivers

Alicia Kirschenheiter - December 09, 2010 12:46 PM

It seems you can’t pick up a newspaper or magazine without seeing a feature on the diabetes epidemic overwhelming the U.S. and other westernized nations.  Although 8% of the population has this disease, there’s still a lot of confusion as to what is diabetes.

There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and gestational. All are caused by the body’s inability to make or utilize insulin. Without enough insulin glucose stays in the blood and can subsequently cause damage to the kidneys, heart, eyes, nerves and other organs.

Type 2 diabetes is onset in adulthood and although there are several factors involved, the best predictor of developing this form of the disease is being overweight or obese and having a sedentary lifestyle.  There are other factors like the existence of high blood pressure, age and family heredity, but as a person diagnosed with diabetes, you as the individual still have the power to impact the disease. In treatment of diabetes, whole fitness techniques meaning holistic diet, fitness for the body and focusing on a balanced mind, can be an important key to minimizing the effects and subsequently, the insulin dependency.

Additionally, adopting positive whole fitness behaviors can help with the following:

Improving blood glucose management
Activity makes your body more sensitive to the insulin you make. Activity also burns glucose (calories). Both actions lower blood glucose.

Taking less insulin or diabetes medication
Activity can lower blood glucose and weight. Both of these may lower how much insulin or diabetes medication you need to take.

Losing weight and keeping it off
Activity burns calories. If you burn enough calories, you’ll trim a few pounds. Stay active and you’ll keep off the weight!

Managing stress
Stress not only affects your blood sugar levels, but also your ability to remember other key components like medication. Exercise can relieve stress, but I would always suggest opening your mind to other areas like dance, yoga even meditation. A nice stroll with a friend or pet provides both activity and stress release.

Meeting dietary needs and goals
Eating to impact diabetes in the most beneficial way is key. Practice eating several meals of wide variety, including fruit and vegetables, and distributing them every 3-5 hours. Keep the meals low in added sugar and fats and high in fiber.  Additionally, for people with diabetes, the total amounts of carbohydrates consumed each day must be monitored carefully.  Of the different components of nutrition — carbohydrates, fats, and proteins — carbohydrates have the greatest influence on blood sugar levels. The foods recommended for a diet to control blood glucose (or sugar) are good for those with diabetes… and everyone else!

Managing the disease of diabetes is well within our control.  Never let the disease define you. You may be a person who has diabetes, but by “titling” yourself a diabetic, you allow the disease to take the forefront and define you.  Stay informed and stay ahead the disease.

NOTE: Any exercise or nutrition program being used in conjunction with disease treatment should be recommended or supervised by the client’s physician.

Alicia Kirschenheiter is the owner of Evolution Total Wellness Inc. located in New York. Her vast array of experience in the wellness and fitness industry covers many different are areas including being an American Council on Exercise Certified Advanced Health & Fitness Expert, an in-demand personal trainer, a fitness coach (for individuals and companies) and a certified weight & lifestyle management consultant. She is a published wellness/fitness writer for a variety of publications as well as being the author of the children's book "Oscar and Otis - Fat Fighters."

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