6 Healthy Habits You Need to Start When You Have Type 2 Diabetes

7 minute read

Living with type 2 diabetes can be challenging, especially when blood sugar is not the only thing you have to worry about. You also have to be sure to take care of your heart.

The risk of heart disease is almost double for those with diabetes. However, with the proper self-care methods and changes to your lifestyle, you can live comfortably with diabetes and protect yourself from heart disease. Here are 6 habits you need to include in your routine.

The Best Habits for Your Health

By incorporating the following six habits into your routine you can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney, and nerve damage.

1. Eating Healthy

Healthy meals and nutritional planning are the first step to managing diabetes and promoting heart health. You want to focus on cutting sodium, saturated fats, and added sugars wherever possible.

Sugars will interfere  with your blood glucose levels and the resulting inflammation can contribute to poor heart health. In addition to this, both sodium and saturated fats have proven links to heart disease.

Excess sodium can cause increased blood pressure and damage blood vessels. Too much saturated fat leads to increased cholesterol and fatty deposits that clog arteries.

The best diet to have is one that is balanced and full of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as lean protein, healthy fats, and whole grains.

2. Stay Active

Physical activity is good for mind, body, and soul. It is particularly great for heart health and managing diabetes. Adults should get between two and three hours of exercise per week, and this doesn’t have to be strenuous to be effective.

Walking around the block each night or on your lunch break, going for a bike ride, swimming and even gardening all get the heart pumping and muscles working. You can even start with a 21-day walking challenge.

Ideally you want to combine cardiovascular workouts with strength training to see the best results because healthier muscles contribute to overall improved health. Regular exercise benefits your heart and helps regulate and control blood sugar levels too.

It also helps shed unwanted pounds and increase fitness, which is important because obesity contributes to both heart disease and adverse diabetes symptoms.

3. Watch Your Weight

The typical Western diet of processed, high-fat, high-sugar foods has contributed to more than one third of the country being overweight. Obesity contributes to diabetes, heart disease, and complicates your overall health.

Following a balanced diet and getting regular exercise, as mentioned, are the best ways to support weight loss, reach and maintain a healthy weight, and protect your heart.

4. Monitor Levels

Watching your blood sugar levels is a given when you have diabetes but you also should get in the habit of checking your blood pressure and cholesterol levels too. Because cholesterol and blood pressure levels impact heart health, you need to check them regularly to discover any abnormalities.

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The sooner you can identify a potential problem, the better chances you have of correcting it so as to maintain optimal health.

5. Reduce Stress

Stress may be a part of life but you need to make sure it doesn’t take over. Prolonged exposure to stress increases blood pressure as well as inflammation in your body.

The most effective way to control stress levels is to incorporate regular relaxation techniques into your routine. Meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and even getting a massage are all ways to relax your mind and body, to keep stress and inflammation under control.

6. Communicate

When you have diabetes, it is important to stay in contact with your doctor. With all the regular checks you need to conduct, staying in touch with your doctor is the easiest way to manage diabetes and heart health.

Get in the habit of scheduling appointments at least twice a year even when you don’t think it’s necessary. The best approach to good health is a proactive one, and keeping regular communication with your doctor keeps you one step ahead of disease.

Diabetes and Your Heart: What You Need to Know

The risks of heart disease increase significantly for those with diabetes. The reason for the increased risk has to do with several factors.

Cholesterol: Patients with diabetes typically have unhealthy cholesterol levels. Increased levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol contribute to clogged arteries which can damage blood vessels as well as interfere with blood flow to and from your heart.

Obesity: Obesity and diabetes have long been found to co-exist and obesity and excess fat storage contribute to increased insulin resistance. Your body may be producing the insulin but when your cells are resistant to its effects, the result is elevated blood sugar levels.

Hypertension: Many studies have found that insulin resistance is also related to high blood pressure which means individuals with diabetes and high blood pressure are at increased risk for heart disease. By controlling blood pressure, you can control your diabetes and protect your heart.

Bad habits: If you have diabetes, smoking is a habit you need to quit. Smoking has been shown to increase the risk for heart attacks and strokes among diabetics and learning to kick the habit is the only way to reverse the effects and protect your heart and health.

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Excessive alcohol consumption also increases blood pressure and blood sugar levels, making it another bad habit you need to walk away from.

Poor diabetes management: By not properly taking care of your blood sugar levels, you increase the risk of heart failure, so it is important to monitor levels daily and take medications when necessary.

The Bottom Line

The risks for heart disease may be greater when you have diabetes but it doesn’t have to be as dire as it sounds. With regular self-care and blood sugar monitoring you can both manage your diabetes and prevent cardiovascular complications.

Developing healthy habits benefits everybody and can boost overall health and well-being, but for those with diabetes and increased risk of heart disease, making these changes could be the difference between life and death.

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