Is your blood sugar too high? "It can be very difficult for someone with diabetes to maintain a stable blood sugar level," says Janet Zappe, RN, CDE. "What you eat, activity level, medication, illness, stress and even fluid intake can play a key role in reducing spikes in your blood glucose." Here are the five worst mistakes you can make for your blood sugar, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
An Unhealthy Diet
A healthy, nutritious diet is a non-negotiable to help keep blood sugar under control. "If you have diabetes, in many ways your diet is your medicine," say Sue Cotey and Andrea Harris, RNs. "As diabetes educators, we help patients understand what food and beverage choices are best to avoid. When foods are high in carbohydrates, fat and sodium, they increase your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain, heart disease and uncontrolled sugar."
Are You Testing Your Blood Regularly?
If you've been diagnosed with high or low blood sugar, it's important to keep track of what your levels might be—and adjust accordingly. "Your healthcare professional will tell you how and when to check your blood glucose level," says Amy Hess-Fischl, MS, RD, LDN, BC-ADM, CDCES. "In general, people taking insulin, those who are having a hard time controlling blood glucose levels, or have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) need to monitor their blood glucose levels regularly."
You Don't Exercise
Lack of exercise can lead to insulin resistance, doctors warn. "Even if you don't lose weight, exercise will make you stronger and healthier," says endocrinologist Douglas Zlock, MD, medical director of the diabetes center at John Muir Health. "Healthy habits can definitely postpone the onset of diabetes even if they don't prevent it."
You Have Too Much Belly Fat
Excess belly fat is linked to type 2 diabetes, doctors say. "A person who has a highly inflammatory diet and carries excess adiposity around their central organs is more likely to get type 2 diabetes," says diabetes and metabolism expert Elena Christofides, MD. "Excess weight and obesity are risk factors for type 2 diabetes, but how your body stores and manages weight can also be an early indicator of risk."
Poor quality sleep may increase your risk of developing high blood sugar. "Believe it or not, sleep deprivation is a significant, but often overlooked risk factor for type 2 diabetes," says Mauricio Reinoso, MD. "While it may seem like sacrificing a few hours of sleep each night may not have any lasting effects on your body, it can actually be detrimental to your hormone levels. With ongoing sleep loss, your body secretes more stress hormones, which may help you stay awake, but also makes it harder for insulin to effectively do its job."