In this post we are going to talk about type 2 diabetes and how to treat type 2 diabetes. In order for you to figure out how to treat type 2 diabetes – or indeed any disease or ailment – it is important to understand how it is brought on, risk factors and so on. This awareness will also help those who are prediabetic or borderline type 2 diabetic to recognise how they are at risk and how to reduce the probability of developing type 2 diabetes.
The first step of treatment is wrapping your head around what is happening to your body and why. Let’s dive right into how to treat type 2 diabetes, starting with what it is.
What is type 2 diabetes and how is it different from full fledged or type 1 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is when the individual’s cells produce insulin but are unable to use the insulin appropropriate. Insulin is used to break down blood glucose so that there is no excess blood glucose in the bloodstream that can damage your cells eventually. You can compare type 2 diabetes to a flickering lightbulb. There is some amount of light but you can barely see and the light is therefore not too useful.
Type 1 diabetes can be compared to a dead lightbulb or a lightbulb that won’t switch on at all. In type 1 diabetes the individual’s cells completely stop producing insulin. You could get type 1 diabetes without ever having type 2 diabetes.
If type 2 diabetes is ignored or left untreated, your cells could taper off and eventually stop insulin production and you could become type 1 diabetic – which as you can imagine – is far more serious. Other complications include heart attack, stroke and wounds that do not heal.
Who is at risk for type 2 diabetes
If you are reading this because you are worried about type 2 diabetes and what to take preemptive measures or do your research before going in for a test, here is what you need to know: Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1 diabetes and contrary to popular belief, it does not only affect seniors but also young adults and even children – this is because of the global obesity epidemic thanks to junk food consumption and a sedentary lifestyle across demographics.
Consider taking a test if you need to say yes to any of the following:
- Are you overweight/obese?
- Do you have belly fat?
- Are you physically inactive?
- Are you more than 45 years old?
- Have you ever had gestational diabetes during pregnancy/organ transplant?
- Alternatively have you given birth to an overweight baby?
- Do you have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
- Do you have immediate blood relatives that have type 2 diabetes?
Ethnically, Indians are not considered high risk for diabetes, so there is some good news here.
How to treat type 2 diabetes if you have discovered that you have it
Treating type 2 diabetes is all about the right combination of diet, exercise and an improved lifestyle
Diet: You need to migrate to a healthy diet if you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Moreover, you need to find a diet that you can live with happily so that you can stay committed to it. Type 2 diabetes does not have a cure but your blood sugar levels can be reversed to normal levels with healthy eating, diet and exercise and maintained with the help of the same terrific trio. Consider these simple rules for a diet that is appropriate and helpful when you have type 2 diabetes
- Avoid foods and beverages that have concentrated sugar
- Switch refined grains like white rice, white bread and pasta for whole grains like ragi, maize, bajra, sabudana, rajgajra and so on
- Ditch deep fried snacks for lean (unflavoured, unbuttered and definitely zero caramel) popcorn and healthy nuts and seeds
- Ditch candy and fruit juices for actual fruits. Avocados are very good for you
- Understand the concept of glycemic index and consume foods with a low GI. The glycemic index has a range from 1 to 100 where foods are assigned a value based on their ability to impact blood sugar. Water, for example, has a GI of 0. Avocados have a GI of 15. Milk chocolate has a GI of 42-44 and dark chocolate has a GI of less than 25. In fact, try and google the GI of anything you tend to consume regularly
Exercise: You can consume the occasional tumbler of sweet beverage, piece of chocolate or nugget of candy and other high GI foods (note how we mentioned tiny quantities) provided you exercise.
Regular, concentrated and sufficient exercise is a must if you want to keep your blood sugar levels in check. Avoid going by the number of steps that show up on your smartwatch or fitness band. You need a focused and concentrated workout or 30 minutes at a stretch at least 5 days a week.
Make the time! It is literally a matter of life and death in the long run.
Lifestyle: Depression and anxiety are linked with diabetes. Logically as well, we are more likely to eat unhealthy foods when we are either stressed or unhappy. Stress and depression are also linked to poor or insufficient sleep, which is in turn linked to diabetes. Ensure you are getting enough sleep.
Also, despite your possibly hectic schedule, it is important to eat meals at regular and consistent timings.
Put all of these into practice to live a normal life despite living with type 2 diabetes.