While Creative Care makes its living selling diabetic support socks, we like to use this space to provide a different kind of support to people with diabetes.
We know that living with diabetes can mean dealing with several other health issues, including high blood pressure. Hypertension affects two-thirds of all diabetics, and can lead to more serious problems – like strokes and heart attacks – if left uncontrolled.
That’s why we’ve compiled these tips from The Cleveland Clinic and WebMD for keeping your blood pressure low when you have diabetes:
1. Get more exercise
Exercise makes your heart stronger and allows it to pump more effectively. Getting two and a half hours of exercise each week – swimming, biking, walking – can improve your heart healthy and help you maintain your weight.
But you spread this exercise over at least three days, and go no more than two days in a row without getting a workout. (And be sure to put on a good pair of diabetic support socks if you plan to be on your feet for a while.)
2. Avoid salt
A low sodium diet is one of the keys to reducing your blood pressure. Look for other options when it’s time to season your food: citrus zest, garlic, ginger, rosemary, jalapeno peppers, oregano, cumin and ginger are all healthy options.
Try to steer clear of foods with high volumes of hidden sodium: canned or frozen foods, and processed products like lunch meat and hot dogs.
Your best bet when trying to cut down on sodium is to choose fresh, natural foods: fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and whole grains. In a pinch, choose frozen vegetables over ones that are canned, and look for low or reduced sodium labels.
3. Good fats and bad fats
Your diet should be very light on saturated fats, the kind you find in chicken skin, butter and cheese, and you should avoid trans fats, found in baked goods and fried foods. These fats increase your cholesterol, which leads to heart disease.
Look for the fats that come from things like olive oil, nuts, avocados and flaxseed.
4. Keep to your medication schedule
Treating high blood pressure often means taking medication that keeps blood vessels relaxes to prevent constriction. It’s important to take these medications on schedule. Skipping even one day result in high blood pressure.
5. Don’t drink, don’t smoke
People with diabetes are advised to monitor or limit their alcohol consumption in the first place. Hypertension complicates things even further, as drinking large amounts of alcohol can increase your blood pressure.
Men should limit themselves to two drinks a day, and women to one. (One drink is the equivalent of a shot of liquor, 5 oz. of wine or a 12-oz. beer.)
If you’re a smoker, quitting reduces your risk of heart disease and lowers your blood pressure. When you smoke, blood vessels constrict, raising your blood pressure and releasing hormones that work against insulin.
Keep in mind that quitting tobacco will mean doing more work to keep your weight down, so consult with your doctor to come up with a plan to keep your weight in check.