10 Tips for Boosting Your Longevity with Type 2 Diabetes

June 03,2021 |
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Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition where your body doesn’t use insulin properly. Unlike type 1 diabetes—an autoimmune disease—type 2 diabetes develops due to a combination of unhealthy lifestyle habits, genetics, and obesity. According to the CDC, diabetes is the 7th most common cause of death in the United States. Your likelihood of dying from diabetes increases with poor lifestyle choices and improper diabetes management. While having diabetes does not necessarily mean that you’ll die at a younger age, there are many complications that can occur that increase your risk of premature death. Unproperly managing your diabetes increases your risk for these complications and therefore, death. So, to make sure that you’re getting the most out of life, here are 10 tips to boost your longevity with type 2 diabetes.

How Type 2 Diabetes Affects Longevity

Type 2 diabetes is a complex condition that can affect many different parts of your body and how it functions. On average, it’s been found that having type 2 diabetes can reduce your life expectancy by up to 10 years. This is because diabetes can lead to a number of complications including:

To reduce your risk of dying from diabetes, it’s important to get screened and meticulously track and manage your blood sugar levels.

10 Tips to Boost Longevity While Living with Type 2 Diabetes

While learning about how type 2 diabetes can decrease your lifespan is scary, it doesn’t have to be your truth. By making healthy lifestyle changes, you can live a long, healthy life without complications. Start by taking the following actions.

  1. Reduce or Eliminate Sodium, Fat, and Sugar

    One of the best ways to help improve your life expectancy while living with type 2 diabetes is to change your diet. Sodium, fat, and sugar can be detrimental to stable blood sugar levels. Try to eliminate soda and juice, energy drinks with lots of sugar, unnecessary sports drinks, red meat, bacon, and other unhealthy fats. Track your sodium intake and try to limit it to 2,300 mg/day or less.

  2. Eat Whole, Nutritious Foods

    While working on eliminating unhealthy foods, increase your intake of whole, nutritious fruits and vegetables. Cook your own meals at home more than you eat out and avoid trying any “diabetes diets” that seem too good to be true. Instead, keep it simple. Consider diabetic meal planning for more efficient cooking and always make sure that your plates are filled with a healthy balance of vegetables, fats, starches, proteins, and fruits. Try to eat more lean proteins than fatty proteins and include fish in your diet at least four times per week.

  3. Get More Exercise Regularly

    Exercising regularly is another way to boost your longevity. Not only does it help to protect yourself from cardiovascular disease, but it’s also great for stabilizing your blood sugar levels. For the best results, try to get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week. This can be accomplished by cycling, brisk walking, running, or even vigorous home or lawn care. You don’t necessarily have to be at the gym for hours on end; if you’re making healthy choices and staying aware of your activity level, you’ll reap the benefits.

    For the best results, combine aerobic activity with strength training at least two days a week. You can do full body workouts or target one area, just make sure that you’re exercising all of the major muscle groups to improve overall health.

  4. Lose Excess Weight

    If you begin to eat more mindfully, focus on whole nutritious foods, and exercise regularly, you’ll notice that it’s much easier to maintain a healthy weight. Losing about 5 to 10% of your body weight can have a significant reduction on the overall impact of diabetes and your health. Every pound that you lose will improve your health, but it’s important to do so in a healthy way. If you have any questions or concerns about weight loss, talk to your doctor today.

  5. Prevent Infections

    People living with diabetes have increased risks of developing certain infections such as influenza, pneumonia, and urinary tract infections. While these aren’t always serious on their own, they can be life-threatening in those living with diabetes. This is due to reduced healing rates and increased risks of ulcerated wounds. Therefore, if you have diabetes, do everything you can to prevent infections. Get the flu shot, always pee before and after sexual intercourse, and if you do get sick, go above and beyond to make sure that you’re properly taking care of yourself. If you notice any sign of infection or are struggling to properly manage your diabetes while you’re sick, contact your doctor immediately.

  6. Regularly Check Your Levels

    Living with diabetes means that you’ll need to understand what your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels are. The better you monitor these, the lower your chance of developing severe complications. For accurate readings, schedule regular doctor’s appointments every six months. There are also plenty of self-monitoring tools available for you to use in your home, some of which may even be covered by your insurance provider. If you have any questions about which options will be best for you, ask your doctor for recommendations. We also recommend bringing whatever you purchase to your appointment so that your doctor can help you understand how to use it and check it for accuracy against the readings he or she takes.

    Blood pressure and cholesterol self-monitoring tools are convenient, but not absolutely required. However, having a blood glucose monitor is 100% necessary to avoid problems. If you live with diabetes and do not monitor your blood sugar daily, your life expectancy will drop substantially.

  7. Try to Manage Your Stress

    Chronic stress is bad for anyone. It can lead to high blood pressure, which can significantly increase your risk for developing heart disease if you have diabetes. While acute stress is healthy, chronic stress needs to be managed. There are plenty of things you can do to reduce your stress and try to relax, the key is finding something that you enjoy and produces noticeable results. Consider trying deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation exercises, or enjoying a warm bath at the end of the day. If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of options online for free tutorials or guided programs.

  8. Seek Help for Diabetes Distress

    Diabetes distress is an emotional response to the ongoing care and pressure of living with diabetes. It’s brought on when someone feels burdened by the relentless daily self-management required alongside the potential long-term complications. Over time, these feelings can intensify and lead to overwhelm and depression, causing people to cease caring about their behaviors and even act in damaging ways. If you or someone you know is suffering from diabetes distress, getting help is essential to boosting longevity.

  9. Quit Smoking

    If you smoke, quit. Smoking is extremely dangerous for your health regardless of if you have diabetes or not. Unfortunately, if you’re living with diabetes, smoking causes even more problems. Smoking damages your blood vessels and heart, which increases your risk of cardiovascular disease tremendously. Since this is already a huge risk for people living with type 2 diabetes, it’s simply not worth it. Smoking also increases your risk for severe kidney disease, nerve damage, and even vision problems.

  10. See Your Doctor Regularly

Properly managing your diabetes is all about prevention. While there’s not many things you can do to reverse the diagnosis, you have a plethora of tools at your disposal to make sure that you’re not facing complications that could lower your lifespan. Even if you feel fine and don’t think you need a checkup, never skip your regular appointments. Seeing your doctor every six months will allow you to properly check your levels and adjust before things get too skewed. This also allows you to discuss any concerns or create more strategic management plans if you’re struggling to properly care for yourself.

To help make sure you’re doing everything you can to manage your diabetes effectively, Byram Healthcare has a range of continuous blood glucose monitors. We also offer diabetes support and educational materials to give you everything you need for comprehensive care.