Randy Jackson is best known as an award-winning producer, music industry expert and beloved television personality. But what many people don't know is that Jackson has also been managing the everyday reality of living with diabetes for 18 years.
More than 30 million Americans live with diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Whether that's you or someone you care for, it's clear that diabetes impacts many daily decisions. While everyday life with diabetes can feel overwhelming at times, there are small, tangible steps you can take to improve your everyday reality.
Below are six simple tips from Jackson to stay healthy and keep smiling.
1. Make healthy choices. You don't have to give up the foods you love, but pay attention to what you eat and how much of it hits your plate. Growing up in Louisiana, I ate a lot of rich Southern-fried food and I just didn't pay attention to the portions. (Just how good it tasted!) When I moved to LA, there was always food around on tour or in the studio. Today I'm more conscious of what I eat and how much. I don't think of food as "good" or "bad," but instead think about which foods provide nutrition and keep my blood sugar in check. Everything in moderation.
2. Embrace movement. As with diet, you don't have to change overnight. Just make sure you're staying active. When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I weighed around 350 pounds and exercise just wasn't part of my life. I slowly eased into an exercise plan that worked for me, starting with something as simple as walking. Today, I go to the gym regularly, enjoy playing tennis, yoga and Pilates. Find fun ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine and when you find something that works, stick with it.
3. Maintain good oral health. I'm a producer, but I also like to sing, so my mouth really matters and I pay extra attention to keeping it healthy. The reality is, gum disease could be a bigger issue for me than someone without diabetes. People living with diabetes are two times more likely to develop gum disease, according to the CDC. I make sure to pay extra attention to the products I use. That's why I use Colgate Total toothpaste. Its unique formula is unsurpassed for its ability to prevent and reverse gingivitis, which is the most common form of gum disease.
4. Listen to your doctor … and your dentist. It's easy to be in denial or want to avoid prediabetic symptoms. According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 4 four adults living with diabetes do not know they have the condition. Don't let diabetes sneak up on you. Your mouth is the window into your body, so your dentist can help catch some problems early on. Your dentist may see changes to your oral health that could be indicators of diabetes, such as fungal infections or signs of gum disease. Be sure to listen to your doctor or your dentist early and know your family health history. For some, early treatment of prediabetes can actually return blood glucose levels to the normal range.
5. Create a personalized treatment plan. Everyone's body and symptoms are different. Make sure to work hand-in-hand with your doctor and dentist to implement the necessary changes into your routine and educate yourself on the disease. It was not until I was diagnosed in 2003 that I learned there are a lot of other health issues linked to diabetes, like gum disease. This deep understanding of the disease motivated me even more to ensure that I was managing it accordingly.
6. Build a strong support system. Remember, you don't have to face the everyday realities of diabetes alone. Surround yourself with positive people that will help motivate you, be it friends, family, even an online community like the American Diabetes Association's Facebook page.