Type 2 Diabetes Treatment Options
Diabetes is a disease that affects the body's ability to produce or process glucose (you may have also heard glucose referred to as "blood sugar"). When blood sugar levels are too high, insulin distributes it to the cells, converting it to energy that keeps you going throughout the day. Diabetes effectively prevents the body from producing insulin, resulting in excess glucose within the blood and leading to very serious health complications over time. An estimated 29 million people in the United States have some form of diabetes -- type 2 accounts for about 90-95% of the diabetic population.
The reason it's so much more common is in large part due to the fact that that type 2 is developed in life, whereas type 1 is a genetic defect. This means that type 2 is usually possible to treat with some lifestyle changes. Every treatment regimen is dependent on the patient's situation, but here are some suggestions you can expect to hear from your doctor.
Ditch the Tobacco
One of the most important and immediately beneficial steps you can take (not just for diabetes, but for your overall health, too!) is to quit smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular smokers are 30–40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers. And people who smoke a pack per day are twice as likely to develop diabetes than nonsmokers.
Smoking can also lead to insulin resistance. This compromises the effectiveness of several treatment options -- many of the medications designed to treat diabetes are centered around producing supplemental insulin. But if your body can't utilize it anyway, those treatments are unviable.
Get the Blood Pumping
Aerobic exercises are your best friends in your fight against type 2 diabetes. The CDC recommends aiming for 150 minutes of aerobics per week. Broken down, that's about 30 minutes a day for 5 days out of the week. It doesn't have to be super rigorous, although the more intense, the better. Weight loss plays a major factor in reversing the effects of diabetes. Combining aerobics, like walking or jogging for 30 minutes, with resistance training, like weight lifting, will help control glucose even more effectively.
Exercise lowers blood sugar levels so it's important to monitor yourself before and after you work out. Eating a snack beforehand may be necessary. Your doctor will discuss your training regimen with you.
Monitor Your Nutrient Intake
Unfortunately there is no "one size fits all" diet for diabetes. Successful diabetes treatment requires constant monitoring of blood sugar, vitamins, fat, fiber, carbs, fat and salt. Generally speaking, diets for diabetics will be low in carbs, fats and calories but high in fiber and nutrients. Be prepared to eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy proteins like fish. Portion sizes and a consistent daily meal schedule are also taken into consideration when customizing your diet. Your nephrologist and a dietician will help you plan out a coherent schedule, rich with healthy meals based on your personal tastes.
If diet and exercise aren't enough to control blood sugar, medication will be introduced into the mix. There are a number of possibilities, each with their own ways of working. Some medications train your liver to retain more glucose. Some tell your pancreas to produce more glucose. Some lower insulin resistance so your pancreas doesn't have to work as hard. You may also get insulin supplements by injection, inhaler or an insulin pump for continuous treatment. Your doctor will explain what each drug does and makes recommendations on a case-by-case basis.