If you are among the growing number of people suffering from type 2 diabetes, here is some good news: A plan of basic therapies including education, a personalized meal plan, nutritional supplements, and ongoing monitoring and support can reduce the amount of insulin and oral medications needed to manage the disease and decrease the symptoms and complications of diabetes. When you are empowered by knowledge, you can learn to effectively manage this potentially devastating disease.
Many diabetic patients think their symptoms are “under control” because they are taking insulin and other oral medications that help keep their blood sugars within acceptable levels. Medications are, of course, critical in the treatment of the disease. However, if the patient does not commit to an active role in addressing the causes of problems, then the result may be an ever-increasing dependence on insulin or other medications, which have their own negative side effects over time. For instance, did you know that insulin is a fat-storing hormone that often leads to unwanted weight gain among diabetic patients? That weight gain can then lead to other problems such as high blood pressure or joint problems.
In my own work with patients, I stress four important factors. The first is education about the disease process. It is critical to understand what diabetes is and what the effects can be on your body. Without proper treatment, problems such as loss of vision, pain or numbness in the extremities, ulcers on the feet, and damage to vital organs can occur. Learning about how the disease affects the body to cause these problems is the first crucial step in your treatment plan.
The next factor is developing a personalized meal plan. “You are what you eat” was never truer than when talking about diabetes. By understanding how certain foods affect your body and your blood sugars, it is possible to enjoy good meals while still controlling blood sugars and decreasing your weight. As an example, eating a piece of fruit alone can cause blood sugars to rise, but taking a protein such as nuts or cheese with the fruit will prevent a spike in the blood sugars.
Targeted nutritional supplements or botanical treatments can also be very helpful. Recent studies have shown these alternative therapies to be effective in decreasing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and decreasing blood sugars, thus reducing potential organ damage.
Perhaps the most important factor in a treatment plan is an ongoing monitoring and support program. Working with a healthcare provider who will spend time discussing your progress and modifying your treatment plan on a regular basis is critical to successfully managing your the disease.
You don’t have to be a “victim” of type 2 diabetes. By being proactive and working with a knowledgeable physician, you can control your diabetes without letting it control you.