There is some good news when it comes to type 2 diabetes management. It is possible for type 2 diabetics to manage their condition without the need for any medication including daily insulin injections.
In 16% of cases, type 2 diabetes can be managed via diet and exercise alone. Unfortunately though this will not be the case for all type 2 diabetics no matter how good their diet or how rigorous their exercise regime.
What the stats say…
90% of all diabetics are type 2 diabetics. Of these people 57% take oral medication such as Metformin to manage their blood sugar levels. 14% of people manage their diabetes with insulin shots while 13% use both oral medication and insulin. The remaining 16% leave their type 2 diabetes management just to diet and exercise.
Learn about type 2 diabetes
The first thing you must do is educate yourself on your disease. Having diabetes can see you develop a whole range of complications further down the line so it is vital that you get your blood sugar levels under control to the best of your ability. This may or may not involve taking medication. If it does then you should know that it is in your best interest to take this medication as advised. Cardio vascular disease is the most common form of death in people with diabetes so managing your blood sugar levels should be the highest priority in your life.
Type 2 diabetes management – what to do
Weight loss is recommended for almost all type 2 diabetics. Many diabetics are overweight when they are first diagnosed with the disease. If you are overweight and are a type 2 diabetic it is imperative that you embark on a plan to lose some of those excess kilos. One of the most vital pieces of the diabetes puzzle is maintaining a healthy weight. If you are able to maintain a healthy body weight it can increase the chances that your bodies insulin resistance will subside. This is not a hard and fast rule but as I said it can increase the chances. Maintaining a healthy body weight is also a healthy lifestyle choice that can lower the chances of diabetes complications down the line. . Losing weight can also boost energy levels, lower cholesterol levels, protect your heart and lower your blood sugar levels. In other words there is no downside. You will also look and feel better about yourself. Please see my in depth article about diabetes and weight loss.
The way you lose weight is via proper nutrition and a long term exercise regime.
There are numerous blog posts on this website about the most effective diets that a diabetic can undertake. It is important that you find one and that you stick to it. It is important to know how different foods affect your blood sugar, especially carbohydrates. Carbohydrates affect your blood sugar more than any other food group. Carbs are found in everything from pasta, cereals and bread to milk, sweets and fruit. Even some vegetables can raise your blood sugar levels more than you think. Carb counting is one method of monitoring your carb intake. They say that diet dictates 80% of the puzzle when it comes to weight loss.
There is no doubt that exercise makes it much easier to control your blood sugar levels. When it comes to type 2 diabetes management exercise is a vital component as you can use exercise to counter excess carbs that you may consume. Exercise helps your body utilise the insulin that it is producing in a more effective manner. Exercise also lowers blood pressure, reduces your risk of heart disease and can also reduce stress. The added energy you will experience from exercise makes it easier to go about your day to day activities, plus as you raise your level of fitness it will be easier to continue to and develop your exercise program. It is considered appropriate to exercise for at least 30 minutes per day at least 4-5 days per week. When it comes to exercise ideas you are spoilt for choice although sometimes it may depend on the weather. If you can afford to sign up at a gym then it is recommended that you do so as the weather will not be an excuse. Some people like to set-up a home gym so they can exercise while watching TV. Whatever works for you is the best exercise. You just need to stick to it. Please see this article on diabetes exercise guidelines here.
Metformin is a common medication that type 2 diabetics often need to take, especially if they have had their disease for a while. Metformin helps you lose weight and manage your type 2 diabetes better. Please see my post on Metformin and weight loss here.
Sometimes a type 2 diabetic will need insulin therapy to manage their condition. This is not necessarily a statement on how you have been managing your diabetes. Sometimes the most “healthy” type 2 diabetics will need insulin to best manage their blood glucose levels. Please see my blog post on type 2 diabetes and insulin here.
Smoking and alcohol
Smoking should be eradicated from your life with the utmost importance. Smoking and diabetes is a death sentence. Explore alternative solutions with your health care professional. Please see my article on diabetes and smoking here.
Alcohol should be consumed in moderation. It is bad for the liver and kidneys and raises your blood pressure. I am no saint when it comes to alcohol consumption and I understand that it can be a great way to de-stress. Just be mindful of the ramifications of consistent drinking, especially binge drinking. Please see my article on the best alcohol choices for diabetics here.
If you have type 2 diabetes and your Body Mass Index (BMI) is above 35 then you may have to take more radical action to manage your weight. This may include bariatric surgery. There are numerous procedures available, primarily bariatric surgery involves bypassing a portion of the small intestine or reduces the size of the stomach with a gastric band. Surgeries that bypass a portion of the small intestine appear to have the most success and blood sugar levels return to normal in 55-95% of people with diabetes. This surgery is expensive however and there are other risks involved.
Regular doctor check-ups
It is wise to see your diabetes specialist at least twice per year. During the routine visits you should get you blood sugar levels checked especially your HbA1c level which gives you your average blood glucose levels over a period of 3 months. You will also need to have your cholesterol levels and blood pressure checked. Your diabetes expert should also run tests on your feet and give you an eye exam at least once per year.
Type 2 diabetes management can be made very easy by making some simple lifestyle adjustments. With proper diet and a good exercise regime you are over half way there. If you need to lose some weight then speak with your healthcare professional about medication you can take to assist you. Please continue to read this blog for inspiration, motivation and information on the latest breakthroughs in the world of diabetes.
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