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Education, awareness, and lifestyle changes can lead to improved outcomes

DETROIT – The prevalence of diabetes is on the rise, with over a million people in Michigan diagnosed with the disease according to the American Diabetes Association. It is estimated that an additional 239,000 Michigan residents have diabetes but do not know it, greatly increasing their health risk. While having diabetes can cause serious health concerns including heart disease, stroke, and even death, it can be managed. With education, awareness, and positive lifestyle changes, Michiganders can dramatically reduce the condition’s effect on their health.

CCA Health Michigan works with its health plan members to help them better manage their diabetes and live healthier lives. While medication is one important aspect of managing the symptoms of diabetes, nutrition and exercise play important roles, too.

“At CCA Health Michigan, we work with our members one-on-one to understand their priorities and together we develop a treatment plan that works for them,” said Linda Perkins, R.N., Director of Clinical Operations at CCA Health Michigan. “We understand the importance of tailoring our recommendations to each member so that their treatment plan is realistic and achievable. We focus not just on the condition itself, but also on each member’s motivation, mental health, mobility, food preferences, cultural values, family dynamics, and other factors that can impact their ability to manage their diabetes. We have seen this approach significantly increase the likelihood of their success.”

Along with medication prescribed by a doctor, diet and exercise adjustments like the ones listed below can go a long way in helping to manage diabetes.

  1. Limit starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, carrots, and green peas since they can raise blood sugar levels quickly and by large amounts.
  2. Limit fried foods and those high in saturated fat and trans-fat, such as butter, poultry skin, and many fast foods like french fries.
  3. Food and drinks with high salt and sugar content should also be avoided when possible. Drink water instead and consider using sugar substitutes to sweeten coffee or tea.
  4. Try to avoid processed foods, such potato chips, breakfast cereals, and meat products like bacon and ham.
  5. Work to incorporate more whole foods, lean meats and protein, heart-healthy fats and fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. Broccoli, peppers, and mushrooms as well as avocados, nuts, seeds, salmon, and albacore tuna are good choices. Legumes like black beans and black-eyed peas are packed with fiber and protein. Removing skin from poultry allows you to enjoy it without the added fat.
  6. How you eat is as important as what you eat — eating the same amount of carbs at each meal and eating around the same time every day can also help keep blood sugar levels regulated.
  7. Exercise is another important component since physical activity has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels. Walking, stretching and low-intensity weight training can be added to your daily routine one at a time.
  8. Look for opportunities to get more exercise throughout your day such as choosing the stairs over the elevator can be a good first step.

Living with diabetes can take time to manage, but the good news is lifestyle changes related to diet and exercise can serve as an important tool in your healthcare toolkit. Talk with your doctor and take time to incorporate new food and exercise routines over time so you can adjust to these changes, which can increase your chances for success and better health outcomes.

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