Health Watch -- Managing Diabetes

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

There's more to managing diabetes than doing blood tests and taking pills.

Patients with diabetes know that controlling their blood glucose levels is essential for preventing serious complications. Medication has made it easier for diabetics to keep their blood glucose levels steady, but doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say diabetics need to do more than that in order to stay healthy.

One thing diabetics should do is keep their weight under control. Dr. Larissa Aviles-Santa (a vee la sahn tah), a UT Southwestern diabetes expert, says that diabetics who are overweight will have chronic health problems that affect the cardiovascular system, even if they have their blood glucose levels under control. Obesity is a major health concern for diabetics, and it can lead to additional health problems, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

In order to remain as healthy as possible, diabetics should be conscious of their food choices and try to get regular exercise in order to keep their weight down. Read labels so you'll know just what you're adding to your diet from packaged foods. Doctors generally recommend a diet low in saturated fats and high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains for diabetics, but there are also diets high in monounsaturated fats that may also be beneficial. Talk to your doctor about the foods that will be best for helping you maintain your health.

Just walking half an hour a few days a week is a good start on an exercise program that will do a lot toward helping you maintain your weight and your health.