Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes
Have you just been diagnosed with diabetes? Or do you know someone who has? No doubt, there will be a lot of questions racing through your mind. Well, your doctor is definitely the person most qualified to answer all those questions. But to get a general idea about the disease and how to deal with it, you’ll find that this article is more than adequate. We’ll be explaining what Diabetes is, how it affects the body, and what modern research offers in the way of treatment.
So what exactly is Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that affect how your body metabolizes sugar. Often the first reaction of people who discover they have diabetes is something along the lines of, “Well, I guess I can’t eat sugar anymore.” That’s not entirely true of course since people will always need sugar for healthy cells.
Sugar itself is never bad. But sometimes the sources of sugar leave a lot to be desired, on the health front. Much like how there are healthy fats (like olive oil), there are also natural and healthy sources for sugar, like fresh fruit. Glucose (sugar) is vital to health because it’s an important source of energy for the cells that make up muscles and tissues. Even the brain needs healthy sugars since sugar is the brain’s primary source of fuel. Which means that right now, you’re able to read and understand this article because of sugar!
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with Diabetes, you can take some heart in the fact that you are not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as of 2014, 29.1 million people in the United States, or 9.3 percent of the population have Diabetes.
Every person’s body is different. So the way each person processes sugars, or the challenges they face while processing sugars, varies. Insulin is a hormone that comes from the pancreas. The normal or healthy way the body processes sugar is when the pancreas secretes insulin into the bloodstream when the sugar is high. The insulin circulates, enabling sugar to enter cells and lower the amount of sugar in the bloodstream. As blood sugar levels drop, it sends a message to the pancreas to stop producing insulin until the next time you eat.
Diabetes symptoms can vary depending on how much your blood sugar is elevated, and how quickly that spike happens. Keep in mind that the following symptoms can also be indicators of other medical health issues, and exhibiting any of them does not automatically mean that you have diabetes.
If you have several of these symptoms, your doctor or healthcare provider is likely to conduct lab tests to gather more information about your condition. They will test your blood using the glycemic index (GI), which reflects the effect of a carbohydrate-containing food on blood sugar level.
Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing sores
- Frequent infections
How is Diabetes treated?
Diet and exercise will often be the first step in treating type 2 Diabetes. Food especially is of utmost importance, because it is the body’s main source of sugar. All carbohydrate-containing foods, from fruits to bread, have some level of glucose; although fruits are usually the highest sources. Your healthcare professional is going to fully discuss nutrition with you and may recommend that you see a specialist.
A dietician is a food specialist who helps people understand how blood sugar works in the body and the way in which foods affect the body processes. The American Diabetes Association is also a great source for diabetes-friendly recipes and advice.
Keeping your blood sugar within target range remains a cornerstone of diabetes treatment. This involves monitoring and managing your carbohydrate intake. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to immediately minimize the amount of overly processed, sugary, high-calorie foods from your diet. These are the so-called “junk foods” that have become such a big part of modern culture, that it may take a while to get these items out of your cabinets and refrigerators. Concentrate instead on learning about nutrition, and enjoying the pleasure of foods in their most natural form, such as fruits, vegetables, beans and whole-grain foods. Lean meat is certainly an important part of a healthy diet and should be included in proper portion sizes.
It’s important to stay hydrated
Your diet plan includes what you drink each day, so stay away from the sugary soda, and start drinking plenty of water. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drinking enough water is critical for the human body to function properly. For people with Diabetes, proper hydration is even more crucial.
Dehydration puts a strain on the heart, making it harder for blood to circulate. The amount of blood circulating through the body, or blood volume, decreases when people are dehydrated. To compensate, the heart beats faster, increasing heart rate. Add to this the fact that there is already plenty of stress on the body from the challenges of blood sugar processing, and it is easy to see how important it is to stay hydrated.
Exercises that are part of Diabetes treatment
Exercise should be part of any healthy lifestyle. It has found that even a little bit of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking 30 minutes a day, lowers the risk of type 2
Diabetes by 30 percent. Some benefits of exercise include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Combating diseases, including high blood pressure
- Improving Mood
- Increasing energy
- Improving sleep
- Improving sex life
- Improving relationships, through social connections
Exercise, and maintaining a normal body weight, are critical to health – especially given that there is an ever-growing connection between Obesity and Diabetes. Recent work by Walter Willett, the Harvard School of Public Health’s (HSPH) Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, demonstrates that being even slightly overweight increases your risk of Diabetes fivefold; and being seriously obese increased it by 60 times!
Keep monitoring your blood sugar
Finally, as you begin your new treatment and focus on a healthy lifestyle, your health care professional will want to monitor your progress with regular testing and may recommend simple and easy tests you can do yourself at home. If diet, exercise, and blood sugar monitoring are not enough, then your medical provider will likely start you off on medication, to help you control your blood sugar levels.