Each issue, WebMD the Magazine's "Health Highlights" focuses on a national health theme for the month with expert tips, reader comments, and eye-catching factoids. November is Diabetes Awareness month. Follow these tips to stay at your peak!
1. Say "Om"
Learn to meditate to help reduce stress and improve your blood sugar levels.
2. Step Out
Exercise helps keep your weight and blood sugar under control, and just about everyone can do a brisk daily walk.
3. Eat Right
"Diabetes is about balance - balancing food, activity, insulin, pills every single day," says Larry C. Deeb, MD, a diabetes specialist in Tallahassee, Fla. and president-elect of the American Diabetes Association.
Be vigilant. In its later stages, low blood sugar can be very dangerous -- possibly causing fainting, even coma.
High blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Blood sugar levels above 240 can develop when your insulin level is too low to control blood sugar. This leads to ketosis, a condition in which you're unable to use glucose for energy, so your body switches to burning fat instead.
In ketosis, fat is converted to ketones which get into your blood and your urine. Glucose also builds in your blood and spills into your urine -- pulling water from your body and causing dehydration, a potentially life-threatening condition.
"Ketosis decreases oxygen delivery to the tissues, which puts stress on eyes, kidneys, heart, liver," says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, MPH, RD, LDN, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and a diabetes specialist in Philadelphia.
That's why a low-carb, high-protein diet, like Atkins, for example, is not really safe for people with diabetes, says Gerbstadt. "Diabetics need to try to stick with a more balanced diet so your body can handle nutrients without going into ketosis."
If your blood sugar level is under control, hyperglycemia or ketosis isn't a risk, Deeb explains.
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