A diagnosis with Type 2 diabetes is not the end of world and your life is still the same as you know it. You have the same chances of finding jobs, do anything you want and be involved in any hobby or any activity you choose just like before the diagnosis. You must also know that even if you have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes your lifespan has not been shortened and that you can still maintain the same quality of life as before the diagnosis.
What you must also know that having diabetes does not mean that you will have all the complications of diabetes such as blindness, leg amputations, heart disease, kidney failure so on and so forth. Facts are that you may not get any of them if you keep your diabetes under control meaning keeping your weight, blood sugar, blood pressure and blood cholesterol under control and avoid smoking.
You must also know that a diagnosis with Type 2 diabetes does not mean that you can’t eat anything sweet, any desert or any other food groups for the rest of your life. In fact nothing is off limit to you or anyone else with diabetes provided you consume it in balance and moderation and as part of a balanced and physically active lifestyle.
Having said all this, it is real important for you to understand that although diabetes is a controllable disease, if you don’t take it seriously and make favorable choices with regard to lifestyle changes or make inappropriate changes to your treatment without consulting with your doctor or pharmacist then you make yourself a magnet to all of the dire diabetes complications mentioned above and much more.
Most importantly you must claim responsibility for your health because primarily you must be in the driver seat by monitoring and keeping track of your vital parameters such as your blood sugar, blood pressure and blood cholesterol (your doctor will monitor it periodically).
In the book that I authored about diabetes I say this: “Diabetes is like a sword with 20 sharp edges but you have control over that sword. If you keep a tight grip on it then you live with diabetes happily everafter but if you let loose then the sword’s sharp edges will do great damage to your internal organs.
To help you achieve diabetes control, avoid complications and enjoy the best quality of life as stated above you have 4 friends along the way to help you achieve this very attainable goal: Weight management/loss, physical activity, raising fiber intake and Metformin.
The main problem with Type 2 is insulin resistance whereby insulin is being produced from your pancreas but when it gets to your muscles, liver or fat cells to help glucose (sugar) to be stored in those sites it is unable to. The result is sugar and insulin pooling in your blood and causing all sorts of problems to your internal organs.
For people with Type 2 the problem of resistance was caused by lifestyle choices and factors such as belly fat, physical inactivity, sitting for long hours, consuming excess calories coming from high fat, high sugar and high salt containing processed food, snacks and beverages, lack of adequate fiber content in the daily diet.
For people with Type 1 although the cause is not lifestyle related but those lifestyle factor mentioned in Type 2 become a problem and cause the same resistance for injected insulin thus raising the need for higher insulin doses. Higher insulin doses means higher insulin side effects such as weight gain, hypoglycemia and high triglyceride levels which worsen the resistance problem and the blood cholesterol profile.
The solution is to embrace those 4 friends mentioned above because all of them would improve or resolve insulin resistance and will make your body more sensitive to insulin and gradually resolve insulin resistance. You really don’t have to do a lot to improve insulin sensitivity but rather small and sustained actions will bring you priceless health benefits.
With regard to weight, studies have shown that a weight reduction of only 6 or 7 pounds would greatly improve blood sugar control, reduce your blood cholesterol and blood pressure. But more, sustained and gradual weight loss is even better and will do wonders to your diabetes control and improve blood cholesterol and pressure. In early Type 2 diagnosis and in the absence of organ damage with those favorable choices you may actually reverse diabetes and many not need to be on medications any longer. But any such decision would have to come from your doctor and you should never make any changes to your treatment without consulting with your doctor.
Metformin is a one of kind drug that works by sensitizing your muscles and liver to insulin and help them store your sugar and take it away from the blood. Most importantly, it promotes weight loss which in turn improves insulin resistance.
Physical activity and raising fiber in the diet play likewise a major role in making your body more sensitive to insulin and are indispensable arsenals to keep on your side in the fight against diabetes.
I have covered in detail in my book and in various articles on Living with Diabetes or through various posts on how to take the first step into making lifestyle changes and increase physical activity, increase fiber intake and lose weight without ever dieting again.
Here’s a 101 summarized approach on how you can start making those favorable lifestyle choices:
The first and foremost factor that promotes blood sugar stability is to have a balanced meal and snack structure throughout the day. Your body functions on regularity and a meal distribution that’s ideal for your blood sugar is to have 3 main meals and 2 snacks in between.
The American Diabetes Association recommends the following macronutrient distributions per meal: 50 – 55% of calories would come from carbs (mostly complex), 30% from fat and about 20% from protein.
This can be simplified by using the plate method for meals which I recommend in my books “Lifestyle Makeover for Diabetics and Pre Diabetics” and “Lifestyle Makeover for Couch Potatoes”. The first lady Michelle Obama is now recommending this same method and named it “My Plate”.
It goes as follows: Divide an average size plate into three sections: one half and two quarters. Fill the half section with vegetables raw, cooked or as a salad, fill a quarter with either lean meat, lean chicken, lean pork or fish. Fill the remaining quarter with high fiber carbohydrates such as 2 slices of whole grain bread, or brown rice, or whole wheat pasta, or a medium baked potato with skin (you can add a smear of butter or sour cream if you like). Your main goal is to have a balanced meal that includes a variety of all the important elements of a sound nutrition without “dieting”, feeling hungry or being deprived of any food.
How to get the recommended daily fiber amount 35 grams:
Aim at raising your daily fiber intake up to 30 or 35 grams and I’ll show you how you can reach this amount with just a couple choices: 1) Start your morning with Fiber One bars by General Mills or Fiber Plus bars by Kellogg’s have each 9 grams of fiber, they are delicious and a great way to start your morning. 2) For Lunch or Dinner sandwiches use whole grain bread with high fiber content such as “Double Fiber” by Oroweat or by Nature’s Own brands contains 5 to 6 grams of fiber per slice.
You can create a delicious lunch sandwich with a couple slices of these breads smeared with mustard, include lean ham or any other choice of lean deli meat or poultry, a slice of cheese then loaded it up with lettuce and tomato slices. This sandwich will yield about 12 grams of fiber.
Then for dinner if you eat a salad, a different choice of protein than lunch, or a bowl of beans (of any kind) or peas then this is going to get you at least another 11 to 13 grams of fiber or more.
For snacks, including a couple fruit snacks along with a small amount of nuts or almonds in between meals daily will supply you between 3 to 5 grams of fiber per choice of fruits such as bananas, apples (with peel) or oranges (keep some of the white rind).
Another crucial factor and one of the most arsenals available to you at no cost and with absolutely no side effects to reduce your blood sugar, maintain or lose weight, disease prevention, stress management and whole host of health benefits is daily physical activity. To include physical activity of about an hour or more daily as part of your lifestyle is to increase walking by as simple as standing up and walking a couple steps then sitting back down and repeating this cycle every 15 to 20 minutes. Try to make more frequent walking trips to perform most daily chores and stand instead of sitting to wait for anything.
Always keep in mind that your health is the sum of choices you make every day and that small sustained actions bring you a wealth of health benefits.
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