Taking Care of Oneself in Later Life to Lessen the Risk of Diabetes

Type II diabetes has been called a “silent killer” because the lack of recognizable symptoms means a patient may live with the disease for a long period without diagnosis.  Common symptoms like thirst, excessive urination, and fatigue may just be attributed to aging. The longer diabetes goes undiagnosed and therefore untreated, the more likely it is to lead to other health issues and shorten the life of the sufferer.

If you are in an “at risk” category, it is important to get yourself tested. Testing for diabetes is easy, involving a small prick with a needle to extract a drop of blood – and could save your life.  People at greater risk of contracting type II diabetes include older people, overweight people, those with sedentary lifestyles, and people with diabetes in their families. Certain racial types are more predisposed to the disease, and studies suggest that stress or a serious shock may also be a factor.

Be aware of the symptoms. Read up on them in books or on the internet, and consult your doctor if you have any concerns. Sudden weight loss for no obvious reason is another symptom, not only of diabetes but of other health problems as well, and should always be checked out. Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, or sores and cuts that won’t heal should always be seen by your doctor.  Early diagnosis means early treatment and management.

Be kind to your body and give it what it wants, which probably is not a huge cheeseburger and heaping plate of fries followed by sugary pie and cream. Your body needs a range of vitamins and minerals, plus dietary fiber, to maintain good health. Eating junk food is not the way to acquire these.

Fresh food low in fats and sugar is the best medicine for your body, whether or not you have been diagnosed as diabetic. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, preferably raw or very lightly cooked – and hold the melted butter or maple syrup, please! Choose lean meat and plenty of fish.

Carbohydrates should be eaten in moderation, and you should choose brown grain or wholegrain when possible.  White bread is a friend to diabetes, not to diabetics. It has a high glycemic index and lacks the chromium found in wholewheat, which your pancreas needs to stay healthy and produce insulin.  Learn about the glycemic index and try to choose carbs that have a low GI – these will keep your blood sugar at a steady level.

Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum, and smoking is definitely not a good idea.

Regular exercise will help keep your weight down and your body healthy, and benefits you in so many other ways.  Why not join your local gym, or take up jogging, swimming, cycling or walking?  Try to get out of the house instead of sitting in front of the TV night after night.  Take the dog for a walk, go for a walk with friends if you live in a neighborhood where being out alone at night makes you nervous, or buy yourself a simple home exercise system. You can always use it in front of the TV if you are a hopeless addict!

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