Other Things You Can Do

Quit Smoking
The role of smoking in causing lung disease is well known. But smoking is even more risky for people with diabetes. Over time, smoking damages your heart and circulatory system by narrowing your blood vessels.  When blood flow to cells is restricted, the cells in your body can die.

This damage can lead to heart disease, impotence, and amputation. Coupled with the already high risk for people with diabetes, the effect can be devastating. If you smoke now, talk to the members of your health care team about strategies that can help you quit.

Eat Healthy Foods
You may already be using a meal plan low in saturated fat and cholesterol with lots of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and a moderate amount of protein. Maybe you have cut down on salt to lower your blood pressure. If you have decided to lose weight, you also need to watch the total number of calories you eat.

By making wise food choices, you can reap benefits far beyond keeping your blood glucose on target. You can also reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. And healthy eating habits are contagious. Your family will benefit, too.

Lower Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, puts a strain on your body, especially your heart, blood vessels, and kidneys. In addition, high blood pressure can accelerate the progression of eye and kidney complications.You can lower your blood pressure by losing weight and exercising. For some people, limiting salt intake helps lower blood pressure. You may also take medications to keep your blood pressure at or below the recommended level of 130/80.

Exercise Regularly
Exercise helps people with diabetes in several ways. It can delay or help stop cardiovascular disease. It can help clear glucose out of your blood, so that cells can use it for energy. This lowers blood glucose levels and in some individuals may lower the amount of insulin needed. And it can give you a positive way to cope with stress. For people who are overweight, exercise helps in weight reduction,  and losing weight lowers your insulin resistance. Exercise just helps your body work better.

Martha M. Funnell, MS, RN, CDE
Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center
University of Michigan Medical School
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Robert M. Anderson, EdD
Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center
University of Michigan Medical School
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Shereen Arent, JD
National Director of Legal Advocacy
American Diabetes Association

American Diabetes Association Complete Guide to Diabetes

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