Diabetes Management through Diet, Lifestyle and Medicine
Diabetes Management through Diet, Lifestyle, and Medicine
By: Janki T. Patel, PharmD
Pharmacist, Advance Community Health
Diabetes, most commonly Type 2 Diabetes, is a chronic disease that affects the way our bodies are able to process glucose, which is an important source of energy for the body. Glucose can come from the foods we eat and it is also produced by the liver. An important hormone, called insulin, is produced by our body which helps to keep a healthy balance of the glucose in our blood by acting as a key that opens the door to our cells. This allows the glucose to be stored inside the cells or used as fuel when needed. Over time, if the glucose level becomes too high and is not treated, it can affect the way insulin works in the body and lead to different problems ranging from having poor eye sight and numbness in our fingers and/or toes to having high blood pressure and being at an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke.
One key thing to remember is that Type 2 diabetes can be prevented, treated, and even reversed!
The best way to make sure this disease is managed is by eating nutritious foods, remaining active through exercise, and taking the medication(s) that are prescribed by your doctor daily. Nutritious foods include minimally processed, fiber-packed whole grains (i.e. buckwheat, oats, quinoa), legumes, beans, vegetables, dark leafy greens, herbs, spices, and even fruit. It is best to reduce or avoid eating overly processed meats (i.e. lamb, beef, pork, sausage, bacon, deli meats), dairy (i.e. milk, cheese, butter, cream), refined oils (i.e. soybean, canola), and refined sugars (i.e. table sugar, high fructose corn syrup).
Engaging in different types of physical activity (i.e. walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, free weights, yoga) for at least 150 minutes/week is recommended to help decrease the many associated risks factors (i.e. obesity, high cholesterol, poor bone and muscle health). Your doctor may check labs, such as A1C every 3 months, and monitor your glucose levels to determine what medication(s) you should take along with what dose and how often it should be taken. Diabetes medications work by helping to achieve target glucose levels and/or allowing the body to use insulin effectively. Depending on the medication, it can be taken as a tablet by mouth or given as an injection. Some people are able to keep their glucose levels under control on just one medication, while others may need multiple medications. To avoid complications, it is best to take your diabetes medication(s) every day without skipping doses and talking your doctor or pharmacist on how to take them correctly.
This disease can be a burden to our health with many layers that can ultimately affect multiple aspects of life. However, with the help of these three measures—what we eat, how we stay active, and choosing to take medication(s) appropriately, diabetes can be treated, managed, reversed, and prevented in addition to reducing other risk factors associated with this disease.
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