Managing Your Diabetes | Five Important Tips
According to the CDC over 100 million Americans are currently living with either prediabetes or diabetes, a metabolic disease that affects the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels effectively. This is a startling number, as it suggests that almost 1 in 3 Americans is currently struggling with the many health effects asscoiated with the disease. In order to best mitigate the symptoms, it's critical to understand how the disease changes based on the specifics of the diagnosis. While the complications of the disease are simmilar in many ways across all diagnoses, managing and treating the disease can look slightly different. 1
The symptoms and complications of this disease can be severe and include2:
- Risk of cardiovascular disease
- Nerve damage
- Kidney damage
- Foot damage
- Eye damage
- Skin conditions
- Risk of Alzheimer's disease
Perhaps most shockingly, the diabetes UK estimated in 2010 that the life expectancy of someone with type 2 diabetes is likely to reduce the life expectancy by up to 10 years.3 None of this is good news; however, it's not all doom and gloom. Science has also shown that by being proactive about the diagnosis and following a few simple guidelines, the effect that diabetes has on your daily life, and more broadly on your life expectancy, is more within your control than you might think. Believe it or not, recent studies have shown that by committing to a healthier lifestyle, you can reverse type 2 diabetes.
As science learns more about type 2 diabetes and how it can best be managed, the studies are continually coming back to a shortlist of manageable lifestyle or medical adjustments that are having a significant impact on the outcome of diabetes. Here are the five most important steps you can take to reduce or even reverse your type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
Clean Up Your Diet
Perhaps the most impactful change that someone with diabetes can make would be cleaning up their diet and committing to a lower number of average daily calories. By cutting out highly refined foods, especially those with sugar, you can avoid the empty calories that have a significant impact on your weight. Committing to healthier food options will cause weight loss, which is the single most effective way to combat diabetes. Studies in England further noted that the length of time an individual had diabetes before their weight loss occurred was influential on how effective the weight loss was in reversing symptoms. This indicates how important it is to commit to a healthier diet as soon as diabetes has been diagnosed.
Get More Exercise
Exercise has been shown to have a significant impact as far as improving or reversing diabetes, especially when coupled with a healthier diet. This is because exercise can be an effective strategy in losing weight, one of the primary difference makers when it comes to diabetes management. It is important to note, however, that exercise alone will likely make little difference. It can move the needle, but likely won't be sufficient by itself. Losing weight is extremely difficult to do without committing to better food choices, even if you work out regularly. There is an old saying, "you can't out-train a bad diet," which eludes to this concept.
Regularly Monitor Blood Sugar
By regularly checking your blood sugar, you can educate yourself on how particular food choices affect your levels. By identifying foods that cause trouble and avoiding them, you can take significant strides towards regulating your blood sugar and preventing insulin resistance from getting worse. Furthermore, by knowing when your blood sugar is likely to spike, you can prepare ahead of time and ensure you have what's necessary for a response.4
Consider Bariatric Surgery
Weight loss is the most effective way to combat the progression and symptoms of diabetes, but for some diet and exercise are not a realistic means of losing weight. For those that cannot manage to be consistent enough with their diet and activity levels to maintain a lower body weight, bariatric surgery may be an appropriate next step. The significant weight loss that results from the operation means dramatic improvements in blood sugar for most people. Surgical intervention should be considered a last option, as it comes with its own set of risks and recovery time.
Look Into Diabetes Medications and Therapy
For those individuals who cannot maintain healthy blood sugar levels even after cleaning up their diet, increasing activity, and losing weight, diabetes medication may necessary. There are several different drugs available depending on your particular health history and situation, so it's best to consult a doctor to see what option will work best for you. These treatment options range from various prescriptions to insulin therapy and work to help the body regulate blood sugar levels and insulin more effectively.5
If you or someone you love has diabetes, it's critical to understand that early, consistent intervention is key to effective treatment. The symptoms and potential complications of diabetes can be severe. Still, with a commitment to a healthier lifestyle and possibly medical intervention, it is possible to reduce or even reverse diabetes. By following these suggestions, you are taking proactive steps to get ahead of the disease and take charge, ensuring that your diagnosis doesn't need to have the last word on your quality of life.