Along with the typical front-line treatments of insulin and oral medication, a variety of strategies and technologies may help people with diabetes manage their blood sugars. It’s essential to consult your doctor before trying these—or any new diabetes management strategy.
1. Ditching carbs
Carbohydrates (simple and complex) are the main dietary culprit behind abnormal blood sugars. Fortunately, according to recent preliminary nutritional research, they may not be essential. For those with type 1 diabetes, lowering carb intake may lead to a flattening out of the blood-sugar rollercoaster that often goes with trying to match insulin doses to carb intake.
Low-carb diets also have tremendous therapeutic potential in the management of type 2 diabetes. Researchers caution, however, that long-term randomized, controlled clinical studies on the role of low-carbohydrate diets in diabetes management are needed to confirm efficacy and, most importantly, long-term safety.
2. Navigating by continuous glucose monitoring (CGM)
CGM is the GPS of blood sugar tracking. CGM systems record glucose levels at five-minute intervals, with most versions providing real-time high and low alerts. The technology is futuristic: a subcutaneous sensor connects to a small external transmitter, which sends readings to a smartphone app or insulin pump. Compared to conventional spot checks with a glucometer, the data generated by CGM allows for more proactive management, both in the moment and in response to general blood sugar patterns.
3. Shutting down
While the benefits of physical exercise for diabetes management are widely recognized, the importance of adequate sleep is often underestimated. Through a variety of mechanisms, insufficient sleep contributes to hyperglycemia—yet another reason to make getting our Zzzs a priority!
4. Finding friends
Isolation and health challenges are a terrible match. Whether it’s a multiday training camp for athletes with type 1 diabetes, a diabetes Meetup event, or a Facebook group geared to diabetic low-carbers, opportunities to connect with people who understand first-hand the challenges of living with diabetes are game changers par excellence.
A version of this article was published in the December 2019 issue of alive Canada with the title “Diabetes Game Changers.”