Diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) all can lead to serious complications, and yet patients can act to control these conditions. To take control, make New Year’s resolutions to improve your diet and increase your exercise.
Although people with diabetes need to manage their condition all day, every day, these ideas for resolutions can help people with high cholesterol and high blood pressure, too.
Start with some of my favorite diet tips as part of your resolutions.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Try picking from the rainbow of colors available to maximize variety. I recommend vegetables low in starch, such as spinach, broccoli or green beans, with meals.
Buy whole-grain foods rather than processed-grain products. For example, try brown rice with your stir fry or whole wheat spaghetti with your favorite pasta sauce.
Include dried beans, such as kidney or pinto beans, and lentils in your meals.
Include fish in your meals two or three times a week
Too much sodium can increase blood pressure and the risk of heart attack and stroke. To reduce sodium intake, choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. Canned and boxed foods contain higher amounts of sodium, so try fresh or frozen foods. Try to eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. If you have hypertension, are at least middle-aged or are African American, you should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.
Reduce your fat intake and eat less than 300 mg of cholesterol each day. To meet this target, choose skinless chicken and fish first, then opt for lean red meats such as pork loin and sirloin. Select no-fat, 1 percent fat and low-fat dairy products.
Cut back on high-calorie snack foods and desserts such as chips, cookies, cakes, and full-fat ice cream.
Even with healthy foods, remember to limit your portion sizes.
Following all of these suggestions for healthy eating makes a great start. To complete your resolutions, however, you must include exercise.
Exercise has many benefits. For starters, it helps the heart pump more slowly while pumping a greater volume of blood, reducing blood pressure. It raises good cholesterol (HDL) and lowers bad cholesterol (LDL), reducing the risk of heart disease. Exercise also elevates your metabolism, which enables you to burn more calories every day.
I remind my patients with diabetes that exercise burns glucose and thus reduces your blood glucose level. It also makes the body more sensitive to the glucose that you produce.
You can start being more physically active by doing chores around your house or apartment every day. If you have errands near your home, walk instead of drive. Take the stairs instead of riding the elevator or escalator whenever you can. When shopping, park at the far end of the lot and walk to the store.
Your routine should include aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility exercises. However, if you have a chronic health condition or a family history of heart disease at an early age, talk to your practitioner before starting a new physical activity program.
I also have my own set of New Year’s resolutions, which will benefit my patients with diabetes: I will provide or arrange for them to have the regular screenings recommended by the American Diabetes Association. These include measurement of blood pressure, blood cholesterol (the LDL-C test) and blood sugar control (the HbA1c test); screening for kidney abnormalities (the urine microalbumin test); a foot examination; and an annual eye examination by an ophthalmologist (even if no vision problem is apparent).
If you need help living a more healthy life, call Northern Nevada Medical Group at 352-5300 to schedule an appointment. Same-day appointments and walk-ins are welcome, and we accept most of the area’s health plans, including Medicare.
Luis Palacio, MD, is medical director of the Northern Nevada Medical Group, where he is also a family medicine physician and director of Sports Medicine. He earned his medical degree from Universidad Central Del Este, San Pedro de Macoris, in the Dominican Republic. Board certified in both family medicine and sports medicine, he completed his family medicine residency at Saint Elizabeth Hospital in Chicago and his sports medicine fellowship at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. Dr. Palacio is bilingual in English and Spanish.