Living through a global pandemic has caused significant and permanent shifts in the way we live. With versions of lockdown, quarantine, and isolation worldwide, people have been forced to stay mostly indoors and develop subsequent lifestyle changes. At the same time, there is a renewed emphasis on managing health conditions that can put us at risk.
One such condition is diabetes. According to the WHO, 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, and it causes 1.6 million deaths yearly.
Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease that occurs when the body cannot store and use glucose or blood sugar properly. Glucose is the body’s main energy source, while the hormone insulin is responsible for the functional uptake of glucose in the cells from the bloodstream.
As the COVID-19 crisis perseveres, the upkeep of our physical and mental health has never been more important. While it may be tough to stay motivated and prioritize our well-being at all times, know that diabetes and the complications that may arise because of it can affect anyone. Here are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of diabetes while staying and working from home:
Strive to eat healthily
A healthy and balanced diet is one of the primary ways to reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Apart from doing wonders for the immune system, a balanced diet is essential for maintaining an ideal body mass index (between 18.5 and 24.9 for adults).
A BMI of 30 and above qualifies as obesity. This makes you prone to inflammation and fatty acids, which will make your cells more resistant to insulin.
A lot of the time, people resort to snacking not just to quell their hunger. According to a 2016 study, several other factors motivate people toward snack consumption, from distracted eating to viewing food as a reward.
When we’re feeling under the weather, it may be a bit more difficult to stray away from the foods we prefer rather than what’s good for us. Access to healthy food might also be an issue. Try to be mindful of portion sizes instead and keep junk food to a minimum.
A sedentary lifestyle significantly affects blood sugar levels. Being active helps the body use insulin more properly by improving insulin sensitivity, keeps blood pressure at a stable level, improves cholesterol, and allows you to maintain or lose an optimal BMI.
There is also a link between mental health and physical activity. Exercise releases endorphins, keeping stress away and improving your mood. It is also great for enhancing sleeping habits. If you’re unable to do more active activities like running, biking, or sports, have a suitable pocket of space in your home for some stretching, even for a few minutes daily.
Get some sunlight
With people staying indoors most of the time, getting your daily Vitamin D dose can be challenging. Try to step out of your workspace now and then and enjoy some fresh air and sunlight. If it’s not always doable, it is recommended to get your Vitamin D through supplements or from food such as oily fish, eggs, and fortified food products.
If you’re already a smoker, do your best to kick the habit. If not, don’t be tempted to start—smokers are more prone to developing type 2 diabetes by 30 to 40%. Smoking affects insulin regulation and causes inflammation and oxidative stress to the cells, putting you more at risk of diabetes. It also leads to other conditions such as lung diseases, heart diseases, and stroke.
Take care of your mental health
Stress, depression, and anxiety are natural as we cope through the pandemic. These issues can cause blood sugar levels to rise and fall unpredictably and lead to other health problems. While it’s not always easy to find healthy ways to cope, looking after our mental health should be a priority. If you’re feeling sad or anxious or dealing with stress, try to keep the following in mind:
- Create a routine. When you might be feeling overwhelmed, a set routine of things to do could be helpful. Routines create structure, improve focus, and can give you a sense of accomplishment.
- Take breaks. If the news or social media updates are too upsetting, it’s a good idea to restrict your time reading or scrolling through them to a few hours every day.
- Keep connected with your loved ones. Isolation can be a jarring experience and make us crave the companionship of our friends and family. Keep communication lines open for support during trying circumstances.
Strive to stay well
Amid a pandemic, it can be challenging to look after our health and well-being, but it is more important now than ever. To avoid being at risk of diabetes and its complications, maintain a healthy lifestyle—keep a balanced diet, stay fit, get enough Vitamin D and sleep, and avoid habits like smoking or drinking.
Always monitor your health, and reach out to your health care professionals for any symptoms.