By Richard L. Peatman, Pharm.D., Meadow Vista Pharmacy
Diabetes occurs when a person's body doesn't make enough insulin or can't use insulin properly. With diabetes, sugar builds up in your blood instead of moving into the cells. There are 2 types of diabetes. Type 1 occurs when the body doesn't produce any insulin. About 90% have type 2 diabetes in which the body either doesn't produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. The C.D.C. reports that 7.2% of the population is diabetic, not including those who are pre-diabetic. Diabetes increases the risk of coronary artery disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, amputation and is the fifth leading cause of death.
While there isn't a cure for type 2 diabetes, you can learn to manage it well. You can keep your blood glucose in a safe range by balancing the food you eat with exercise and medicine, if your doctor prescribes it. Be sure to make all your doctor appointments and learn how to check your blood glucose.
Tips to take better care of yourself:
• Ask if your doctor can refer you to a diabetes educator and dietitian to learn how to effectively manage your condition.
• There isn't one specific "diabetes diet." Get help to design a meal plan. A meal plan is a guide that tells you what kinds of food to eat at meals and for snacks and tells you how much food to have. For most people who have diabetes, a healthy diet consists of 40% to 60% of calories from carbohydrates, 20% from protein and 30% or less from fat. It should be low in cholesterol, low in salt and low in added sugar.
• Try the "Plate Method" for planning your meals. Divide your plate in half, then divide one side in half again. Fill the largest section with non-starchy vegetables. In one small section, put starchy foods such as whole-grain breads, rice, potatoes, or cereal. In the other small section, put meat or meat substitutes. Add eight ounces of nonfat or low-fat milk and a piece of fruit.
• Exercise is very important for helping you control your glucose level and helps your insulin work more efficiently. Ask your doctor what kind of exercise you should do. The type of exercise you can do will mainly depend on whether you have any other health problems. Most doctors recommend aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, which makes you breathe more deeply and makes your heart work harder. If you have problems with the nerves in your feet or legs, your doctor may want you to do a type of exercise that won't put too much stress on your feet, such as swimming, bicycling or chair exercises.
Dropping just 10 or 15 pounds makes a big difference in controlling your glucose. Get a weight loss plan from your doctor.