5 Strategies For Improving Glycemic Control Among Diabetes Patients

If you feel stuck with a poor lifestyle and wish to change, lifestyle improvement is the answer. You need to examine your life and assess whet..

self improvement, diabetes
diabetes

If you feel stuck with a poor lifestyle and wish to change, lifestyle improvement is the answer. You need to examine your life and assess whether the good things are outweighing the bad, or vice versa. To do this, it’s first important to identify what is undesirable in your life and what needs to be improved. There is a great deal of discussion around the concepts of a ‘good’ life, and lifestyle management programmes to address these issues head-on. Sometimes, it seems that we are all just chasing our individual goals, without a holistic approach. Fortunately, there is a comprehensive approach to health and well-being which covers all the aspects of a good life, leading to improved physical and mental health and an improved quality of life.

A lifestyle management programme covers every aspect of health promotion, from eating right and exercise to stress management and stress reduction. It is structured around seven key pillars – physical activities, diet, nutrition, social interaction, mental health, family life and support systems. As each pillar is further developed, better health is promoted. The end result is a balanced, happy and healthy life with improved health, nutrition and well-being, all brought about by the combined efforts of lifestyle management programmes, diet and exercise.

The foundation of lifestyle improvement is the implementation of a healthier diet. It should aim to introduce moderation in food selection, focusing on quality rather than quantity, reducing unhealthy sugars and fats and ensuring an intake of foods that are high in fibre. This type of diet is known as a Glycemic Index (GI), based on the Glycemic Index calculated for different carbohydrates. The higher the index, the higher the sugar level in the blood, resulting in raised blood glucose levels which are known to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Therefore, healthy eating is a major component of any GI diet and a major component of any wellbeing programme, regardless of age or culture.

One of the strategies for incorporating a lifestyle intervention programme into a diabetes care programme is for the provider to include it as an element of the routine diabetes care planning that is carried out. At regular intervals, plans should be developed to incorporate changes to lifestyle that are aimed at improving glycemic control, keeping weight under control and reducing health problems related to diabetes. Regular meetings between providers and patients should also be conducted to keep everyone informed of progress made in each area of improvement. Some of the issues that need to be addressed include the use of meal replacements, including recipes to make at home that are low in fat and have high nutritional value, increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables that are eaten, avoiding refined carbohydrates and increasing the amount of active life and exercise that is achieved. A good example of this type of meal replacement would be the glucose monitor, which can be used in conjunction with a diet and a lifestyle program to help patients manage their diabetes.

The second strategy is for providers of diabetes care to look into and promote the availability of D-clips. These are plastic or magnetic strips that can be attached to any surface and measure glucose levels without reference to blood glucose measurements taken at the fingertip. Although D-clips are relatively inexpensive, uptake has been slow in some areas of the world where many people may not have access to a health service that provides D-clips.

The third strategy is for providers of diabetes care to look into the feasibility of implementing a structured outdoor exercise program into the intervention plan. Studies have shown that a well-structured outdoor exercise program is an effective way to improve aerobic fitness, reduce stress and increase physical activity. This type of physical activity can be achieved in the comfort of the home or through regular participation in social activities and sporting events such as basketball. For patients who are not yet fit enough to participate in a structured outdoor exercise program, it is important to remember that exercise is an essential part of achieving a healthy lifestyle. A study by the Center for Obesity and Communities found that African American patients living with diabetes had poorer aerobic fitness than the average population and this was particularly important given that obese people are more likely to develop a range of other diseases.

The fourth strategy would be to implement diet and nutrition education into the diabetes care and treatment plan. Patients need to learn about how the foods they eat affect their blood sugar levels and what kind of snacks and meal plans can help them maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Many diabetes educators now work with community groups to provide information on dietary education and ways that patients and providers can work together to create personalized diabetes diets.

The fifth strategy is a combination strategy including to improve glycemic control among low-income diabetes patients and to promote lifestyle improvement.  This would involve research into how existing treatments for diabetes can be improved in light of new findings on the causes of diabetes. It is now known that lifestyle interventions, such as regular exercise, are as important for diabetes management as long-term treatments are for combating any other type of chronic illness. For this reason, researchers are increasingly focusing on identifying lifestyle risks and obstacles in order to design solutions to improve patient health and outcomes.

In light of these new approaches, there is now a much-needed move from the traditional focus on disease prevention and treatment towards an integration of wellness promotion and health risk management strategies. Achieving this would allow diabetes care teams to identify specific situations where lifestyle management programmes might be appropriate. It is hoped that as a result of this, diabetes care programmes will have greater access to a diversity of solutions to diabetes and will better respond to the unique needs of patients. This would undoubtedly pave the way for a successful and sustainable integration of lifestyle management programmes with overall health risk management strategies.

 

Note: This article is for educational purposes only, and not intended to provide medical advice. If you are diabetic, please consult your physician to determine the best treatment options available for you.

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