Three tools help manage diabetes: diet, exercise and
medication. Some people can do it with
just diet and exercise, but most diabetics eventually need medication in
In a nutshell, here’s what the tools do:
The food you eat
determines how much glucose your body must deal with.
is the magic bullet because It naturally and quickly removes glucose from the blood.
the body function closer to normal, but it can’t control blood glucose levels
on its own.
The tools work together and a change in one means a change
in another. We’re all different and we need to figure out what works for us.
It’s a big reason diabetes is so challenging.
What about Food?
Foods aren’t equal.
High carbohydrate foods like table sugar raise the blood glucose level a
lot. Meats, fish, eggs and many vegetables raise it minimally, if at all.
Eating intelligently is critical to managing diabetes.
You’re more likely to succeed if you eat foods you
enjoy. Nothing is forbidden, but
diabetics need to recognize the carb content of what they eat. Once you know this, there are lots of ways to
Eat less of the
high carb and more of the low carb.
Bake with less
sugar (you won’t miss it).
Cook with spices,
which generally have no carbohydrate.
Our tastes are different. The challenge is to create a
personal strategy with foods that are nourishing, taste good and don’t drive
blood glucose levels through the roof.
The Magic Bullet
Exercise recommendations can be daunting. A typical program recommends 30-60 minutes of
exercise per day, a combination of aerobic and resistance training 3-4 days a
week, exercising all major muscle groups, exercising at least every other day
while working up to five days a week, walking 10,000 steps a day…and more.
Runners and gym rats may not have a problem with this, but
others are intimidated and troubled to think they’re doomed if they don’t
If a person with diabetes follows the guidelines, their
blood glucose management will improve – no question about it. But what about those who can’t?
“Exercise” doesn’t necessarily mean sweating, sore
muscles and exhaustion. It can. but
it’s helpful to think of it as “anything that makes your skeleton
move.” This includes vacuuming,
walking to the store and doing anything that isn’t sedentary.
The more active you are, the more muscle you’ll build.
Muscle is a powerful tool for diabetics.
It naturally pulls glucose from the bloodstream without medication and
either burns it or stores it for future use.
The blood glucose level (BGL) will drop immediately and it will be
easier to manage for about two days, even if you’re relatively inactive.
“More is better.”
The more muscle you have and the more you move the better your BGL will
be. It’s the magic bullet for diabetics.
If you keep it up, you’ll get stronger and become even more
active. The payoff is that your blood
sugars will be easier to manage.
Physical activity is free and effective. It’s a magic bullet for diabetics.
Type 1 diabetics no longer produce insulin, so insulin is
the necessary med. Digestion destroys
it, so insulin is delivered by injection or a port inserted under the skin.
Type 2 cripples the ability to produce insulin so the
pancreas can’t control blood glucose levels on its own. Some diabetics manage
with only diet and exercise, but the condition is progressive most eventually
Over 50 medications do various things. They promote insulin
production, reduce insulin resistance, induce muscle to absorb glucose and
others. A health care professional is
needed to find the best option.
Medication’s effectiveness depends on food intake and
physical activity. Even with medications
If you eat lots of carbs and veg out, you’ll have a higher BGL than if you ate
smarter and went for a walk. It’s easy
to blame doctors for not prescribing the right medication, but an erratic
lifestyle gives them a moving target they can’t hit.
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