by Timika Chambers, MSN, RN, BSN, CDE
The brain is the motherboard of our amazing body. With its vast networking system, the brain plays a crucial role in our body responding to stimuli, regulating internal systems and maintaining balance. Brain health is essential to our day-to-day activities. As our body ages, so does our brain. While blood glucose is the main source of energy for the brain, too much or too little blood sugar can cause changes within the brain. Higher glucose levels place people with diabetes (PWDs) at risk of having a stroke and/or developing dementia.
In my practice, I often remind PWDs that the body works together as a whole. The focus is not just on blood sugar management, but on body management. What we do to our body today can have devastating effects on our body and brain.
Here are six ways we can help PWDs take better care of their brain.
- Educate on the warning signs of a stroke and report any abnormal changes such as confusion and forgetfulness.
- Encourage increasing brain healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, omega-3 fats and antioxidant-rich foods, and limiting foods high in saturated fats.
- Encourage consistent exercise. Exercise improves blood flow to the brain which enhances learning and thinking; increases trophic factors associated with cognitive improvement; and boosts hormones which help alleviate depression and anxiety. Diabetes educators can reinforce the importance of consistent and fun physical activities.
- Encourage relaxation before sleep. We all know that it is important to get 7-9 hours of sleep. Some PWDs struggle with getting their body in a relaxed state before they turn off the lights. I usually recommend setting one hour aside every night to prepare for bed. Instead of catching up on your favorite show, pick up a notepad and write those nagging thoughts, tomorrow’s task list, and keep a gratitude list.
- Encourage play & socialization.Keep the good hormones, like oxytocin and serotonin, rushing through. As the weather is warming up, people with diabetes can make make new friends to help increase social support and enjoy outside activities.
- Encourage positive coping behaviors. We can help PWDs stay on target with their health plan by helping them prepare for unexpected events. Proper preparation can lessen anxiety and frustration and increase joy and self-confidence. The AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors® include healthy coping and offer these free tip sheets you can share with PWDs.
How are you helping the PWDs in your life achieve optimal brain health?
About the Author
Guest blogger Timika Chambers is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Certified Diabetes Educator, and has over 20 years of experience in the nursing profession. She has served in community and hospital settings, as well as academia. Timika helps her clients design a lifestyle that is full of energy and focus, by helping them to achieve balance in critical areas of their lives. She offers one-on-one counseling, group coaching, and presentations and training on diabetes management to lay persons and healthcare professionals. Visit her Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter to learn more.