What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Our bodies use a hormone called insulin to process glucose in the food we eat into the energy that we need to live. Diabetes inhibits the body’s production of insulin, either stopping it completely as in type 1 diabetes or just producing and using an insufficient amount, as in type 2 diabetes.
People with type 2 diabetes still have insulin but have developed insulin resistance. This means that the body isn’t able to turn glucose into energy, and the glucose floats through the blood instead, raising the blood glucose level and causing health complications.
Managing Type 2 Diabetes
Though people with type 1 diabetes always need to take insulin replacements to survive, people with type 2 diabetes are often able to successfully control their condition through a combination of exercise and healthy eating. A healthy diet and regular physical activity are good habits for your body as a whole, and they help balance your blood glucose levels and your weight. When you have type 2 diabetes, it’s important to consistently monitor your blood glucose levels, to determine the kinds of food and amount of exercise that are appropriate. We’ve provided some simple tips on eating correctly as a diabetic.
People with diabetes should avoid diets that are high in sugar and fat, reduce their alcohol intake, and quit smoking. Diets that are high in fibre have been shown to aid in managing type 2 diabetes, particularly when that fiber comes from whole grains like quinoa rather than refined and processed grain. Eat a good variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, avoid meat—especially red meat—and cook for yourself where possible to avoid processed foods.
Exercise also helps manage type 2 diabetes by helping insulin work more effectively and lowering blood pressure at the same time. It doesn’t take much to make a difference—just 30 minutes of exercise a day, or 4 hours a week, can have profoundly positive effects on the body and mind, especially when diabetes has been diagnosed.
As type 2 diabetes progresses, the body can become more and more resistant to insulin, and therefore less effective at converting glucose into energy. When this happens, exercise and a healthy diet may not be completely effective at lowering blood glucose levels. A doctor may prescribe medication that helps manage blood sugar, or prescribe insulin if the pancreas completely stops producing insulin of its own.
If you do take medication to manage type 2 diabetes, it’s important to know that insulin and medicine are not substitutes for a healthy lifestyle. No matter what your medical regimen, continue developing healthy eating and exercise habits. Healthy lifestyle choices together with medication can help you manage type 2 diabetes and avoid long-term complications.
Want To Learn More?
Visit Livewell to read the newest research and health information about diabetes. This research will help you understand your risk of diabetes, and how to manage type 2 diabetes if it occurs. Work together with a health team to help you manage type 2 diabetes, and develop a diabetes treatment plan that works for your unique health needs.