Because diabetes is an autoimmune disease, it’s vital to strengthen your immune system to prevent additional complications. When the system that is designed to protect you becomes the source of the threat, it’s important to do everything you can to protect your health.
And, with the added threat of Covid-19, the need for a stronger immune system is greater than ever, so we’ve assembled some helpful ways you can strengthen your immune system and maintain your well-being.
- Heal your body with food
Controlling your blood sugar should be one of your first priorities, because elevated glucose levels have far-reaching effects on all the body’s systems. When your blood sugar levels are under control, your immune system will be stronger, and the opposite is true as well. That starts with healthy food choices that keep your glucose levels in check.
Beyond that, realize that some foods weaken your immune system while others boost it. Processed, high-sugar foods weaken your body’s ability to protect itself because they fail to provide the nourishment required to help it function well. Natural, whole foods provide many of the vitamins and supplements needed to fight off disease and illness, and they should be the preferred source of those elements.
Foods like red peppers, broccoli, spinach, garlic, onions, blueberries, citrus fruits, and tomatoes are good sources of important nutrients, and adding them to your diet provides an easy way to boost your body’s immune system.
- Strengthen your body with exercise
Exercise helps control your blood sugar levels by raising your heart rate and helping your body use glucose more efficiently. It equips your body to respond better to insulin, and in many cases, the benefits of exercise extend for hours beyond the end of your workout.
The best news is that the exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous. Choose something that involves moving your body, and opt for something you’ll enjoy to increase the odds that you’ll stick with it. If you can incorporate fresh air, it’s even better for you.
- Do yoga
- Play tennis
- Do housework
Set a schedule so it becomes part of your routine, and drink plenty of water. Also make sure you have the right shoes for your activity to avoid blisters and infections that can pose dangers to diabetic patients.
- Replenish your body with sleep
Your body heals while it’s sleeping, recharging all your cells and restoring your body’s internal systems. If you doubt the importance of sleep, consider how bad you feel when you don’t get enough of it. When you’re sleep deprived, you’ll more likely crave carbs and sweets, your appetite will increase, and your body may lack its satiety function, causing you to overeat.
When your body is well-rested, it will be better able to control blood sugar because it will function more efficiently. You’ll also be more likely to exercise because you’ll have more energy and your mindset will be better.
Try to get to bed around 10 p.m. every night, and sleep for about 7-9 hours.
- Understand the importance of mental health
Emotional health has always been vitally important to overall health, but never has that been more true than in the season of Covid-19. As we’ve wrestled through quarantine and social distancing, we’ve found ourselves in foreign territory, separated from our normal routines.
Give yourself grace if you’re struggling to maintain a positive outlook, but avoid letting it spiral into a pity party. Find ways to laugh, even if you’re by yourself. Watch funny movies, talk to a friend who lifts your spirits, or listen to music that makes you want to move your body.
It doesn’t take much effort to play your favorite song, but your fatigued mind may convince you that you just can’t do it. Fight the urge to give in to feelings of depression and take tiny steps like pressing play wherever you listen to music.
Believe it or not, laughter increases the oxygen in your lungs and can improve blood sugar by lowering stress, so give yourself permission to do it often.
- Let go of bad habits
Even under the best circumstances, smoking and alcohol pose great threats to patients with diabetes because they weaken the body’s immune system. Smoking is considered a contributing factor to diabetes, and it contributes to poor blood circulation, heart disease, and poor cell function.
The good news is that patients who quit smoking have better control over their blood sugar than patients who smoke, and the same is true for diabetics who eliminate alcohol.
- Talk to your doctor about supplements to boost immunity
Do your best to get your nutrients and vitamins from the food you eat first, and always talk to your doctor before using supplements to improve your health. Many supplements interact negatively with prescribed medications, so always consult your healthcare provider before starting a regimen.
Make the most of controllable factors
Life feels largely out of control as we adapt to changing quarantine conditions and evolving health threats due to Covid-19. And though we can’t accurately predict when, or if, we’ll return to normal, we can take charge of our own immunity and give ourselves the best chance at good health. These important steps will strengthen your immune system and improve your overall health at a time when both are vitally important.