Diabetes is a chronic, long-term condition which affects how your body turns food into energy. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, occurring when your body doesn’t use insulin properly. If you’ve just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or have been managing your condition for a while, you’re not alone—in fact, more than 37 million Americans have diabetes.
No matter where you are in your diabetes journey, there are some important things to know about your condition and treatment. While some people can manage their condition with diet and exercise, others may need medication or insulin as part of their treatment. To learn more about your condition and how to manage it, read our latest blog post below.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar, also known as glucose, which is an important source of fuel for the body. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps cells take in glucose to be used for energy, and is essential for regulating blood sugar. But in type 2 diabetes, the body either resists the effects of insulin, or doesn’t produce enough insulin to be effective. While this condition has historically been referred to as adult-onset diabetes, the rise in childhood obesity has resulted in a noticeable number of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes normally develop slowly over time. When they are present, signs and symptoms may include:
Type 2 diabetes is typically diagnosed using something called a glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test. This blood test measures your average blood sugar over the past two to three months. Your provider will interpret the results as follows:
Treating type 2 diabetes involves a combination of diet, exercise, weight loss, medication, and blood sugar monitoring.
Monitoring your blood sugar regularly is an essential part of treating type II diabetes. Your doctor can tell you how frequently you’ll need to check and record your blood sugar, but if you’re on insulin, you’ll need to check blood sugar levels at least daily.
For diabetics, managing your diet can help keep your heart healthy and your blood glucose levels in a safe range. While there is no specific diabetes diet, it’s a good idea to eat three meals a day at regular intervals, and choose foods that are high in nutrients and low in empty calories. Consume fewer calories, fewer refined carbohydrates (especially sweets), and fewer foods containing saturated fats. Instead, add vegetables, fruits, and foods with fiber to your diet.
Try to get 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week. Avoid inactive activities, like watching TV, and if you are sitting, make sure to get up and move every 30 minutes.
For type II diabetics who are overweight, losing just 5 to 10 percent of their body weight can make a difference in blood sugar, though a sustained weight loss of 7 percent or more of your initial weight is ideal. Consider meeting with a dietician or nutritionist to create a meal plan you’ll be excited to try.
If you’re not able to treat your blood sugar with diet and exercise, your doctor may prescribe diabetes medications that help lower insulin levels or insulin therapy. Drug treatments for diabetes include:
If you or someone you love is struggling with type 2 diabetes, it’s important to know how to manage your condition. Work with your provider to establish a diet and exercise plan that works for you, and discuss the possibility of using medication to manage your blood sugar as well.