Diet management allows control and awareness of the types of nutrients entering the digestive system, and hence allows indirectly, significant control over changes in blood glucose levels. Blood glucose monitoring allows verification of these, and closer control, especially important since some symptoms of diabetes are not easy for the patient to notice without actual measurement.
For type 2 diabetics, diabetic management consists of a combination of diet, exercise, and weight loss, in any achievable combination depending on the patient. Obesity is very common in type 2 diabetes and contributes greatly to insulin resistance. Weight reduction and exercise improve tissue sensitivity to insulin and allow its proper use by target tissues. Patients who have poor diabetic control after lifestyle modifications are typically placed on oral hypoglycemics. Some Type 2 diabetics eventually fail to respond to these and must proceed to insulin therapy. A study conducted in 2008 found that increasingly complex and costly diabetes treatments are being applied to an increasing population with type 2 diabetes. Data from 1994 to 2007 was analyzed and it was found that the mean number of diabetes medications per treated patient increased from 1.14 in 1994 to 1.63 in 2007.
If you'd like some proof that diabetes is a disease you can live well with, consider the accomplishments of these prolific people with diabetes: jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie, singer Ella Fitzgerald, actress Mary Tyler Moore, and baseball Hall-of-Famer Jim "Catfish" Hunter. Even before treatment was as sophisticated as it is today, author Ernest Hemingway and inventor Thomas Edison, both of whom had diabetes, managed to leave their marks on the world.
Your care team may recommend that you use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). A CGM is a wearable device that can measure blood sugar every few minutes around the clock. It's measured by a thread-like sensor inserted under the skin and secured in place. The more frequent CGM blood sugar readings can help you and the care team do an even better job of troubleshooting and adjusting your insulin doses and diabetes management plan to improve blood sugar control.
A study published in 2014 by the Second University of Naples showed that a low-carbohydrate Mediterranean diet was able to achieve significant rates of remission in people with type 2 diabetes. After one year of following the diet, 15% of participants achieved remission and, after six years, 5% had achieved remission on the diet – a stunning achievement.
Keeping close tabs on your diet is a major way to help manage type 2 diabetes. A healthy diet for people with type 2 diabetes includes fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables, whole grains, beans, lean meats, and low-fat or fat-free dairy. Focus on eating fruit and non-starchy vegetables, like broccoli, carrots, and lettuce, and having smaller portions of starchy foods, meats, and dairy products. Be especially careful about loading up on foods that are high on the glycemic index (GI) and especially the glycemic load (GL), systems that rank foods according to how they affect glucose levels.
About 90 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are obese or overweight, according to the Obesity Society. Weight loss is a known treatment for type 2, which affects the majority of the 30.3 million people with diabetes, as it helps people with the disease reduce insulin resistance and absorb blood glucose more effectively. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), being overweight makes it harder to control diabetes and is a risk factor for diabetes-related health complications.
High blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Your blood sugar level can rise for many reasons, including eating too much, being sick or not taking enough glucose-lowering medication. Check your blood sugar level often, and watch for signs and symptoms of high blood sugar — frequent urination, increased thirst, dry mouth, blurred vision, fatigue and nausea. If you have hyperglycemia, you'll need to adjust your meal plan, medications or both.
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This type of discussion occurs all the time. A patient has been assessed by their physician, and informed that they have a medical problem of some sort. The patient, reluctant to accept the physician’s evaluation, heads to the pharmacy for a second opinion. In some cases, the patient may question the physician’s advice: “All my physician wants to do is prescribe drugs.” Yet there’s a disconnect when it comes to strategies for management. More often than not, non-drug approaches are rejected out-of-hand (probably because the sample I speak with have already made the decision to buy something). And in those that are leery of medical management, there’s often a willingness to consider anything that’s available without a prescription – particularly if it’s perceived as “natural.” Natural products are gentle, safe, and effective, while medicine is thought of as unnatural, harsh, and potentially dangerous. This is the appeal to nature fallacy, nothing more. Purveyors of supplements leverage the appeal to nature fallacy into the marketing strategy of choice for almost all supplements and “alternative” medicines. And it leads to bad health care decisions.
Imagine our bodies to be a sugar bowl. A bowl of sugar. When we are young, our sugar bowl is empty. Over decades, we eat too much of the wrong things – sugary cereals, desserts and white bread. The sugar bowl gradually fills up with sugar until completely full. The next time you eat, sugar comes into the body, but the bowl is full, so it spills out into the blood.
When you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you need to be very aware of not only what you eat, but also when and how much you eat. A Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) at Joslin can work with you to develop a healthy meal plan that fits your lifestyle. Following a meal plan can also help you lose weight and lower your risk of developing complications.
A healthy balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in your diet will help keep your blood glucose on target. How much of each will depend on many factors, including your weight and your personal preferences. Watching your carbohydrates -- knowing how much you need and how many you are eating -- is key to blood sugar control. If you are overweight, either a low-carbohydrate, low-fat/low calorie, or Mediterranean diet may help you get your weight to goal. No more than 7% of your diet should come from saturated fat, and you should try to avoid trans fats altogether.
Taking a fish oil supplement can help improve markers of diabetes by reducing triglyceride levels and raising HDL cholesterol levels. Research published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences shows that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are necessary for proper insulin function, preventing insulin intolerance and reducing inflammation. (16) To use fish oil as a natural remedy for diabetes, take 1,000 milligrams daily.
Metformin is a biguanide drug that increases the sensitivity of the body’s cells to insulin. It also decreases the amount of glucose produced by the liver.. In 1994, the FDA approved the use of the biguanide called metformin (Glucophage) for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Today, this is still typically the first drug prescribed for type 2 diabetes.