Diabetes is a complex and chronic medical condition. It is characterized by the body's inability to manage blood sugar levels due to a lack of insulin production in the body or the ability to use it as well as it should.
There are three main types of diabetes - type 1, type 2, and gestational
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks its own insulin-producing cells (known as beta cells) situated in the pancreas. As a result, the person does not produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels properly.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is still producing enough insulin but is not responding effectively. One of the most common causes of this insulin sensitivity is excess adipose tissue (body fat).
Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy. It usually disappears after the woman has given birth, but those who suffer from gestational diabetes are more likely to develop type two diabetes in the future.
Type 2 diabetes affects 462 million individuals across the globe (6.28% of the world's population), and its prevalence is only increasing. When the body cannot properly regulate the levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood, it can lead to a range of health complications.
This is why learning how to properly manage your blood sugar levels as a person with diabetes is critical. It keeps you happy and healthy in the short term, but it also minimizes your risk of health issues later in life.
Top Tips for Managing Your Type 2 Diabetes
Every case of type 2 diabetes will present differently, and your diabetes symptoms might be different from somebody else's. It's vital to get professional medical advice to manage your chronic condition.
However, there are some important and common ways to manage type 2 diabetes. Healthy lifestyle changes are highly effective in reducing symptoms and complications and ensuring a healthy and happy life.
Here are some top tips for those of you with type 2 diabetes to effectively manage your condition.
Don't Forget to Take Your Medications
The most common medication for type two diabetes management is metformin. If you have been prescribed metformin by your doctor, it's important not to miss any tablets. Your doctor will have given you advice on how often to take your medications, and it's essential to follow them accurately.
Metformin helps to lower the amount of glucose made in your liver, helping to keep your blood sugar levels within a healthy range. If you forget to take your medications, it can cause your blood sugar levels to rise and may lead to preventable complications.
If you are unsure how to take your medications or when to take them, get in touch with your doctor immediately. Similarly, if you are getting unwanted side effects from your medication regularly, speak to a healthcare professional who can offer an alternative.
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Monitor Your Glucose Levels
There are fantastic wearable devices to get constant feedback from your body about your blood glucose levels. They are called continuous glucose monitors, and they attach to the back of your arm. These devices take regular measurements of the amount of sugar in your blood to stay well-informed about low blood sugar levels or high blood sugar levels.
You can use these devices to see how different foods affect your blood sugar levels and adjust your diet accordingly. If your blood glucose goes well above the healthy or normal threshold, you can also take quick action. There are also smartwatches for diabetics that connect to your CGM and help you monitor your blood glucose levels.
Eat Healthy Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates have the most significant impact on your blood sugar levels compared to the other two macronutrients, proteins and fats. So, the types of carbohydrates are very important when it comes to managing your diabetes.
Ideally, it would be best if you were consuming complex carbohydrates. Most complex carbohydrates have a low glycemic index, meaning the constituent sugars are released more slowly into the blood and provide long-lasting energy.
Low glycemic index foods do not result in high blood sugar or insulin spikes, making it easier for you to maintain a healthy glucose level in your bloodstream. Some great low Glycemic Index (GI) carbohydrates include oats, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, and buckwheat. You can also find healthy carbohydrates in milk, yogurt, legumes, and beans.
Exercise is one of the best ways to maintain or grow new skeletal muscle mass. Type two diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance (i.e., low insulin sensitivity). Lean muscle mass is highly insulin sensitive, so by increasing the amount of muscle in your body as a diabetic, you can manage your condition more easily.
Exercise can also improve your cardiovascular function, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol levels. As you exercise, glucose stores are mobilized and fuel your muscles and tissues. As a result, you are less likely to have excessively high blood sugar levels.
The recommended amount of exercise for the average adult is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity movement a week. Depending on your preferences, you can split this up into multiple short 10-minute sessions or five 30-minute sessions a week.
Control Your Weight
Excess body weight can lower your insulin sensitivity and worsen your Type 2 diabetes. Studies show that lowering the amount of body fat you have can reduce your blood sugar levels in the long term and lower your risk of cardiovascular complications.
Even losing 5% of your total body weight can seriously benefit your health. Losing a significant amount of body fat can reduce the need for medications and put diabetes into remission.
Maintaining a healthy weight, eating complex carbohydrates, monitoring glucose levels with a blood glucose meter, and exercising daily are all important ways to manage type 2 diabetes. If you struggle to control your blood sugar levels with diet and exercise alone, speak to a healthcare professional about medication options.
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