Did you know that type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes? More than 37 million Americans (about 1 in 10) have diabetes, and out of those, 90 to 95 percent have type 2. Type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over age 45, but children, teens, and young adults can also develop the condition.
Type 2 diabetes is a result of the body not using insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that lets blood sugar into the cells in your body for use as energy. If you have type 2 diabetes, cells don’t respond normally to insulin, and your pancreas makes more insulin to try to get cells to respond. Eventually your pancreas can’t keep up, and your blood sugar rises, setting the stage for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar is damaging to the body and can cause other serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.
Unlike many health conditions, diabetes is managed mostly by you, with support from your healthcare team, family, and other important people in your life. Managing type 2 diabetes includes healthy eating, weight control, regular exercise, blood sugar monitoring, and possibly medication or insulin therapy.
Although there is no specific “diabetes diet,” it's important to center your diet around a regular schedule for meals and healthy snacks, smaller portion sizes, high-fiber foods such as fruits and whole grains, healthy cooking oils, and modest servings of low-fat dairy, low-fat meats, and fish.
Your healthcare provider may recommend seeing a registered dietitian, who can help you identify healthy food choices, plan well-balanced, nutritional meals, develop new habits, and monitor carbohydrate intake to keep your blood sugar levels more stable.
Weight loss results in better control of blood sugar levels, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. If you're overweight, you may begin to see improvements in these factors after losing as little as 5 percent of your body weight. Your healthcare provider or dietitian can help you set appropriate weight-loss goals and encourage lifestyle changes to help you achieve them.
Regular physical activity, incorporating both aerobic and resistance exercise, is important for losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight and for regulating blood sugar levels. Talk to your primary healthcare provider before starting or changing your exercise program to make sure that the activities are safe for you.
Blood sugar monitoring
Your healthcare provider will advise you on how often to check your blood sugar level to make sure you remain within your target range. You may, for example, need to check it once a day and before or after exercise. Monitoring is usually done with a small, at-home device called a blood glucose meter, which measures the amount of sugar in a drop of your blood. You should keep a record of your measurements to share with your healthcare provider.
If diet and exercise alone aren’t working to maintain your target blood sugar level, your doctor may prescribe diabetes medications or insulin therapy to help manage blood sugar levels.
This article originally published in the Centre Daily Times.