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    Diabetes: How to Lower Your Risk of Complications

    By Camille Peri
    WebMD Feature

    A healthy lifestyle, along with insulin treatments, can lower your risk for things like heart disease, stroke, or kidney failure.

    To lower your risk, control your:

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    • Blood sugar
    • Blood pressure
    • Cholesterol

    Follow a simple daily care plan to help keep complications away.

    Check Your Blood Sugar

    Sticking your finger each day can help you and your doctor see if your blood sugar is under control. Adjustments can be made to manage it better if it isn’t.

    Ask your doctor when to check, how often, and what your target numbers should be.

    Keep a log with dates, times, and blood sugar numbers to share with your care team. Ask what steps you can take to adjust your routine when your blood sugar levels are off-target.

    Eat Right

    Eating well can help you keep a healthy weight and lower your cholesterol or blood pressure. A nutritionist or diabetes educator can help you create a meal plan that fits with your lifestyle.

    You should also:

    • Eat a variety of healthy foods.
    • Watch portion sizes.
    • Make vegetables half of every meal.
    • Keep healthy snacks handy, like celery and peanut butter.

    Move Your Body

    Regular exercise helps control your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol. You should exercise at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

    If you're not used to exercising:

    Try brisk walks. "Even if you have bad arthritis or back pain, most people can walk 15 minutes twice a day," says Marjorie Cypress, PhD, RN, former president of health care and education at the American Diabetes Association.

    Find ways to fit in exercise. Maybe you can wake up 15 minutes earlier to walk in the morning, and do another session on your lunch hour, for example. Or lift hand weights or march in place while you're watching TV.

    Don't Smoke

    Smoking damages and tightens your blood vessels. It doubles your chance of heart disease and makes nerve damage and eye and kidney problems more likely. Your doctor can give you ways to quit.

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