What Is Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic condition. It occurs in various forms, including type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, also referred to as hyperglycemia is marked by elevated glucose (sugar) levels in the blood. Insulin resistance occurs in the body where it cannot be used properly to remove glucose from the blood stream. Initially, the pancreas tries to make up for the problem by manufacturing extra insulin, but at some point it can no longer make sufficient amounts of insulin to maintain normal glucose levels, and that marks the beginning of type 2 diabetes.
29.1 million American adults have diabetes, and type 2 accounts for 90% to 95% of all cases. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is staggering and only expected to rise, as the Centers For Disease Control predict that 1 in 3 babies born in the year 2000 will have type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can lead to several serious complications and health risks for other medical problems, such as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, neuropathy, and possibility of premature death due to various complications and other causes. According to the CDC, people with diabetes are two times more likely to die prematurely from any cause as compared to those without diabetes.
Getting blood sugars under control and managing the disease is critical to prevent complications and preserve optimal health.
Tips To Manage Type 2 Diabetes
Contrary to popular myth, too much sugar does not cause type 2 diabetes. Obesity and lack of exercise is the primary risk factor and cause of this disease, which is marked by the body’s resistance to insulin.
Since blood sugar levels vary on a day to day basis based on diet and other factors, the only way to diagnose type 2 diabetes is with a standardized test known as Hemoglobin A1C that’s results are analyzed by a lab. A reading of 5.7% to 6.4% indicates prediabetes, with anything over 6.0% considered to be at very high risk of developing diabetes. Any percentage over 6.5% means a person has diabetes.
There is no known cure for type 2 diabetes, but it is manageable, and making healthy lifestyle choices, like proper diet and exercise can prevent complications and comorbidities associated with this disease. Significant weight loss is known to reverse it.
Out of control, blood sugar can lead to serious medical complications, including, heart disease, hypertension, neuropathy, stroke, kidney failure, amputations due to nerve damage, and retinopathy.
Get an A1C test regularly, as prescribed by your doctor to monitor your condition.
Using a home blood glucose meter can help to monitor blood sugar levels on a day to day basis in between interval A1C tests as prescribed by a doctor.
As much as 85% of complications and death related to diabetes can be delayed, prevented, or treated with consistent medical care, healthy diet, exercise, and careful monitoring of blood sugar levels.
Weight management is critical. The main cause of and a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes is overweight or obesity. Fat cells are more insulin resistant than muscle cells. When fat cells outnumber muscles cells, the body becomes less efficient at removing glucose since insulin loses its effectiveness. Even a 5% to 7% loss in bodyweight can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, and significant weight loss has been shown to reverse the disease.
Following a healthy diet and exercise can reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes by 58% in those ages 59 or younger and by 71% in those ages 60 or older.
If you’re BMI is 35 or more you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, see your doctor for a Hemoglobin A1C test.
Learning to eat a healthy diet and making lasting lifestyle changes like engaging in regular exercise is a more effective strategy for those with prediabetes to prevent the disease or those with diabetes to prevent complications than drastic fad diets that typically fail.
Proper nutrition is a critical part of managing blood sugars, which includes a delicate balance of the correct amount of carbohydrates, fat, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals and helps to prevent the onset of diabetes related complications.
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a rating system that rates foods based on how fast they raise sugar levels into the bloodstream. The scale ranges from 0 to 100. Including nutrient rich low GI foods into your diet can help to manage blood sugar levels.
Contrary to common myths, those with diabetes can enjoy the same meals as the rest of the family because the recommended diet for diabetes includes healthy whole food choices, like whole grains, vegetables, lean protein, fruit, and skim dairy, all of which are recommended for any normal healthy diet, the main difference maybe in smaller portion size of some foods for the diabetic in the family.
Get your blood pressure checked regularly. Normal blood pressure ranges from 110/70 to 120/80. Measures over 140/90 means high blood pressure, and puts you at risk for heart disease.
Check your cholesterol annually. Diabetics are at a higher risk for heart disease, so monitoring cholesterol is important. The target should be below 100 mg/dl for LDL and above 40 mg/dl for men and 50 mg/dl for women for HDL and below 150 mg/dl for LDL.
Watch your intake of carbohydrates. Since carbohydrates affect blood sugar more than protein and fat, the diabetic has to be particularly careful about the amount of carbs consumed. Choose whole grains and vegetables as main carb sources. Limit simple carbs, like table sugar and products made from it as much as possible to avoid blood glucose spikes.
While fat intake does not directly affect blood sugars, too much unhealthy fat can affect heart health for which diabetics are at a higher risk, and it can cause weight gain because fat has more calories, which does affect blood sugars.
Plant-based protein sources have much less unhealthy saturated fats than animal protein foods, along with healthy doses of fiber. Beans, humus, lentils, tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy protein, almond butter, and peanut butter are all good choices.
Ensure that adequate amounts of fiber are consumed. Fiber rich foods are good for diabetics because they do not cause sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. Fiber also reduces the effect that carbohydrates have on blood sugar levels, as it takes a longer time to digest foods containing fiber. This allows a slower release of glucose into the bloodstream. Aim for 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day.
Get adequate amounts of vitamin D. Studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D were found in people with metabolic disorders such as diabetes. Vitamin D is found in milk, fortified cereals, fatty fish, beef liver, and egg yolks. 15 minutes outside in the sunshine will produce vitamin D naturally in the body.
Reduce the level of fructose consumed. Fructose consumption should be less than six teaspoons or 25 grams per day for normal people. However, for those with insulin resistance it should be less. Fructose consumed in drinks, especially soft drinks and as an additive in processed foods is the worst type of sugar.
It’s important for those with diabetes to ease into exercise, particularly for those who do not workout regularly because blood glucose levels can change based on the length and intensity of your workout, ask your doctor to determine a safe workout.
Aerobic exercise is particularly effective for weight loss. Before starting any exercise, check with your doctor.
Include weight training as part of your exercise regimen. Three times a week for half an hour each time is adequate. Strength training builds lean muscle tone that helps support healthy weight management. Muscle size and strength steadily decline after the age of 30 and the decline increases at a faster rate after age 40. Conversely, our levels of body fat increase after age 30. Resistance training (and aerobics) ensures that our BMI (body mass index) is kept at a healthy level.
Avoid prolonged sitting. Prolonged sitting has been linked to a higher risk of diabetes, even with regular exercise. Standing for a couple of minutes about every 15 minutes may help to reduce this risk, especially for those with desk jobs.
Walking with the right shoes is a great exercise for those with diabetes and especially those with diabetic neuropathy. Start slow and build up speed as you become stronger.
Yoga is perhaps the best exercise for diabetics and especially for those with diabetic neuropathy because it is a low impact exercise. Several yoga poses massage the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin to promote its health. It is an appropriate exercise for all ages and helps to reduce stress, an important consideration for overall health of those with diabetes.
Foods with a low glycemic index have less of an impact on blood sugar levels than foods with those with a higher GI. Information on the glycemic index can found on the internet. The index is lowered if the food is eaten with another that has a lower index. Un-processed, whole foods tend to have lower GI scores than those that are refined or processed. Be careful when using the GI solely to assess the quality of a food, nutrient value should also be part of the decision as some junk and sugar rich foods may have a lower GI, but that does not mean they are a good choice.
The glycemic load of food can depend on portion size. This can be even more important than the glycemic index itself. Foods with a moderate to high glycemic index should not necessarily be avoided if they are eaten in small portions and in moderation.
Reduce the intake of saturated and trans fats and increase the consumption of healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fats found in foods such as mackerel, flax seeds, seeds, and olive oil.
Whey protein supplements are beneficial in raising insulin production and assisting in appetite control.
Ask an herbalist about Gymnema Sylvestre. This plant may be useful for lowering blood sugar.
Bitter melon can help to lower blood sugar and has several essential nutrients.
Magnesium deficiency is often found in those with type 2 diabetes and a low level of dietary magnesium intake has been linked with incidence of type 2 diabetes in 46 out of 47 studies. Get your magnesium from dark leafy greens, nuts, fish, whole grains, nonfat yogurt, bananas, dark chocolate, seeds, and beans.
Ginseng is an herb used in herbal medicine for thousands of years; a few studies have found it to be useful for lowering blood sugar levels. Seek the advice of a qualified herbalist or ask your doctor.
The Bilberry fruit can help lower blood sugar and protect the eyes from damage.
Fenugreek seeds may help to lower blood sugar as part of a comprehensive approach to diabetes management.
The National Institutes Of Health report that those who are deficient in chromium in their diet (not uncommon in those with diabetes) can benefit from supplementation as some scientific evidence exists as to its role in stabilizing fasting blood sugar, lowering insulin levels, and encouraging insulin to work more efficiently in people with type 2 diabetes.
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an antioxidant found in primrose oil is a type of fatty acid, which helps with diabetic-related nerve pain.
Alpha-Lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant that occurs naturally in yeast, liver, kidneys, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes. It is also made into medicine for diabetic neuropathy pain.
Cinnamon has been shown in some studies to improve blood sugar levels. Check with your doctor.
Berberine is a supplement from a plant alkaloid, which may help to lessen the production of glucose in the liver.
Drinking 2 tablespoons of vinegar before meals was shown in a study conducted at Arizona State University East to lower blood sugar after eating by 25% in those with diabetes and 50% in those with prediabetes.
Reduce the amount of sodium in your diet. Healthy intake of sodium is just as important in type 2 diabetics as it is in those who have high blood pressure. This is important as high blood pressure combined with high blood sugar causes more damage to the eyes and kidneys.
Eat potassium rich foods. Potassium is important in lowering blood pressure and therefore ensuring heart health. High potassium foods include dark leafy greens, squash, yogurt, avocados, fish, and mushrooms.
Green tea in addition to other health benefits, such as helping with weight loss, has been found to reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
Probiotics are helpful bacteria which when ingested promote digestive health. Lack of good bacteria or an overgrowth of bad bacteria leads to many health problems. Consuming probiotics has been shown to help with insulin sensitivity. Probiotics can be obtained from nonfat or low-fat yogurt and in fermented foods such as kefir.
A 15-minute walk after meals has been shown to regulate blood sugar levels. This post-meal walk not only helps with digestion, but also helps to control blood sugar levels that take place after meals.
Meal timing is crucial for the type 2 diabetic; it is suggested to eat either a meal or snack every 4 to 5 hours otherwise blood sugar may drop. Remember that managing diabetes is all about maintaining stable blood sugar levels, and following consistent meal times to that end is critical.
An annual checkup with an ophthalmologist is recommended for those with type 2 diabetes.
If you notice that you have blurred vision, it may not be necessary to get a pair of glasses. It may be temporary because of high blood sugar levels. However if it seems to be more long term, you should see an ophthalmologist as it may be more serious.
A link exists between erectile dysfunction in men as an early sign of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes can damage blood vessels and those in the penis are particularly susceptible as they are quite small. If you are having ED, a visit to the doctor is definitely recommended.
Women can experience sexual dysfunction symptoms such as lack of interest in sex, decreased sensation in the vaginal area, dryness, discomfort, and pain during sex as a result of type 2 diabetes.
Attention should be paid to alcoholic consumption. Alcohol does not necessarily have to be avoided completely; however, certain precautions need to be taken. Eating before having a drink is very important, as the liver will have problems correcting blood sugar levels when drinking on an empty stomach. The American Diabetes Association recommends light beer and dry wine in moderation versus high sugar mixed drinks and cocktails.
Get adequate sleep. Seven to eight hours of sleep per night is recommended. It has been shown that lack of sleep, in addition to causing a myriad of health problems has resulted in an increased risk of onset of type 2 diabetes. If you are getting enough sleep, you won’t need an alarm clock to wake up.
Pregnant women need to make sure that they control their blood sugar levels in the first trimester as high blood glucose levels may result in birth defects or miscarriage.
If you experience unexplained and sudden weight loss, you should see a doctor. It can be a sign that blood sugar is being excreted through your urine, which can cause organ damage.
Studies have found that women who breast-feed are at a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who don’t.
Acupuncture has also been shown to help with nausea and vomiting related to pancreatic transplant surgery, which helps those patients to retain the immunosuppressive medications necessary to maintain the transplant.
Massage and meditation help to alleviate stress and subsequent release of stress hormones. Both induce the relaxation response with reduces heart rate and blood pressure, and stress reduction in people with diabetes helps to control counter-regulatory stress hormones, which improves the body’s ability to use insulin more effectively.
Onions contain allul propyl disulphide, which is a compound that may stimulate insulin production in the pancreas and therefore lower blood sugar.
Never being able to eat sweets again is one of the more prolific myths of diabetes. Moderation is key. Remember that diabetes is all about managing blood sugar, so continue to monitor your blood glucose levels, as the amount of sugar in your blood stream is directly related to the effects of this disease.
Any diabetic medication you may be taking should not be used to counteract regular unhealthy food choices.
A whole grain roll is a better choice than a croissant for those with diabetes as is wild rice versus white rice.
Grilled cod with baked sweet potatoes is a better choice for a diabetes friendly diet than fried fish and chips.
Nonfat yogurt with fresh berries is a better dessert option for those with diabetes than an ice cream sundae.
Olive oil and vinegar is a better salad dressing choice for those with diabetes than creamy dressings.
Making healthy lifestyle choices can significantly lower the risks for the serious complications of diabetes and can allow you to live a healthy long life.