5 Essential Steps for Managing Blood Sugar

(BPT) - In the U.S. alone, 28.1 million people are living with diabetes, and an added 7.2 million are living with undiagnosed diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, the American Diabetes Association reports that 84 million American adults have prediabetes, but nearly 90 percent of them don’t even know it.

If you are experiencing symptoms such as frequent urination (often more than ten times a day), persistent thirst or chronic fatigue, it’s possible that you are living with diabetes — and it’s crucial to get tested so you can get the treatment your body needs. That's particularly important now, because, according to the CDC, diabetes sufferers are among those at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Although the current pandemic and social distancing measures make things more challenging, the following tips can help you manage your blood sugar and prioritize your health if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, a family history of diabetes or are experiencing diabetes symptoms:

1. Get tested

The only way to be sure about your blood sugar health is to get tested. It’s easier than ever to determine your risk for diabetes, even when spending more time at home. 

2. Keep track of your symptoms

Identifying your symptoms will help you tackle your health issues head on. Keep an eye out for symptoms of high blood sugar, including feeling thirsty all the time, feeling tired all the time or weak, frequent headaches, concentration issues and a fasting blood sugar level of 100mg/dl or more. If you experience these symptoms, it’s important to get tested for diabetes right away.

3. Choose foods with a Low Glycemic Index

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a ranking of how quickly certain foods make your blood glucose levels rise after eating them. Carbohydrates with a low GI, such as porridge, brown pasta, noodles and multiseed/granary breads, are the best type of carbohydrates to eat for pre-diabetes or diabetes. 'Pulses’ such as chickpeas, garden peas, butter beans, kidney beans, black beans and lentils are high in fiber and protein, which will also help slow down the breakdown of carbohydrates into glucose in the blood. This means that they don’t give that sharp rise in your blood sugar levels.

4. Stay active

Physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and will help keep your blood sugar levels within normal limits. As a rule of thumb, aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise into your day 5 times per week. Many free classes are available online, for all fitness levels, to help you start or continue your exercise routine.

5. Prioritize sleep

Sleep affects blood sugar, and your current blood sugar affects your sleep. Studies show that those who sleep for six hours or less will have significantly higher blood sugar, and a lack of sleep leads to slower fat metabolism and slower glucose processing — so aim to get at least seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night.

While staying active, eating the right foods and keeping track of your symptoms can all help manage your blood sugar, the most important way to make sure you are managing your health is to get tested.