The 24-Hour Stress Cure for Diabetes

Feeling anxious can promote less-than-healthy habits, like eating junk food and skipping the gym. With diabetes, stress management is doubly important. Here’s why.

Stress can be a double whammy when you have diabetes. For starters, feeling anxious or depressed can promote some less-than-healthy habits: eating junk food, sitting on the sofa instead of exercising, drinking too much alcohol, and forgetting to take medication. All bad news for your blood-sugar control.

But stress does more than mess with your good intentions. It makes the body produce more cortisol. This “stress” hormone helps mobilize your fight-or-flight response in a crisis — a fire, for instance. But it also raises blood sugar. So over the long-term, chronic stress can pose a serious problem. It can even make you hungrier and pack on deep-belly fat. So-called visceral fat is the worst kind because it produces chemicals that damage arteries and increase the risk of heart attack.

As you can see, stress is a sneaky foe when it comes to diabetes control. To judge the effect it’s having on you, try this simple experiment: Every time you check your glucose level, rate how stressed you feel on a scale of 1 to 10. Write down both numbers, and after a few days compare the two. If your blood-sugar swings correspond to your stress level, you’ve discovered an entirely new method for thwarting diabetes.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest