Diabetes mellitus is an inability to metabolize carbohydrates resulting from inadequate insulin production or utilization.
There are two types of diabetes mellitus, type 1 and type 2. This article concerns type 2 diabetes, which has also been called adult-onset diabetes or non-insulin-dependent diabetes. However, type 2 diabetes may also affect children and may also require treatment with insulin. With type 2 diabetes, the pancreas often makes enough insulin, but the body has trouble using it. Type 2 diabetes frequently responds well to natural therapies.
People with diabetes cannot properly process glucose, a sugar the body uses for energy. As a result, glucose stays in the blood, causing blood glucose to rise. At the same time, however, the cells of the body can be starved for glucose. People with diabetes are at high risk for heart disease, atherosclerosis, cataracts, retinopathy, stroke, poor wound healing, infections, and damage to the kidneys and nerves. In addition, those with diabetes have a higher mortality rate if they also have high homocysteine levels.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips
Most people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. Excess abdominal weight does not stop insulin formation, but it does make the body less sensitive to insulin. Excess weight can even make healthy people prediabetic, though weight loss can reverse this problem. In most studies, type 2 diabetes has improved with weight loss.
Exercise helps decrease body fat and improve insulin sensitivity. People who exercise are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who do not. However, exercise can induce low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) in diabetics taking blood sugar–lowering medications, or even occasionallyincreased blood sugar. Therefore, people with diabetes should never begin an intensive exercise program without consulting a healthcare professional.
People with diabetes who smoke are at higher risk for kidney damage, heart disease, and other diabetes-linked problems. Smokers are also more likely to develop diabetes, so it's important for diabetic smokers to quit.
Blood sugar monitoring is important to help with diabetes management. Understanding how your blood sugars are affected with your daily activities will help you reach tighter control of your blood sugars. There are many blood glucose monitors available on the market, so choosing a monitor can be difficult. Some of them have special features such as bigger displays of readings, higher storage of values, and some even allow you to connect to the computer. If you are looking for a monitor, there are a few questions to think about. First, does your insurance cover the test stripes? Calling your insurance company ahead of time can help you know if the test stripes will be covered on the formulary price. Ease of use is important as well since each monitor varies on functions, maintenance, and cleaning. Discussing your options with your doctor, pharmacist, or diabetes educator may help you choose the correct meter.
Hypoglycemia can occur from time to time with someone who has diabetes. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include: shakiness, dizziness, sweating, hunger, headache, pale skin color, sudden moodiness or behavior changes, such as crying for no apparent reason, clumsy or jerky movements, seizure, difficulty paying attention or confusion, and tingling sensations around the mouth. If you feel these symptoms, you should immediately check your blood sugar. It is important to raise your blood sugar immediately to avoid serious complications. The fastest way to raise blood sugar is with a form of sugar. Foods with 15grams of carbohydrates is recommended which can be.
- 3-4 glucose tablets
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of juice or regular soda
- 4 teaspoons of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of honey or corn syrup
Once you've checked your blood glucose and treated your hypoglycemia, wait 15 to 20 minutes and check your blood again. If your blood glucose is still low and your symptoms of hypoglycemia don't go away, repeat the treatment. After you feel better, be sure to eat your regular meals and snacks as planned to keep your blood glucose level up.
People with diabetes have the same nutritional needs as people without diabetes. Following basic healthy-eating principles will help you improve your overall health and your ability to manage your blood sugar. Some important things to consider when choosing healthy meals are:
Eat more fiber by:
- Choosing whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, or whole-wheat pasta instead of processed or refined grains
- Eating lots of fruits and vegetables. Focus on the non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and spinach
- Eating dried beans like pinto or black beans and lentils
Lower your fat intake and choose healthier fats by:
- Eating lean meats, such as loin cuts and skinless poultry
- Choosing nonfat dairy
- Eating fish two to three times a week to get adequate amounts of “healthy fats”
- Cooking with liquid oils instead of solid fats like lard, margarine, or butter
- Choosing fresh fruit for dessert instead of high calorie cookies, cakes, and ice cream
Pay attention to how many calories you eat in a day by:
- Opting for water or zero-calorie drinks instead of regular soda, juice, other drinks that contain a lot of added or natural sugar
- Watching your portion sizes of all foods, even the healthy ones
- And don’t forget to count the calories in any alcoholic beverages you may drink
How to use Wellness Factor Tags to find Sugar Smart Foods in our stores:
Shopping tip: Sugar Smart Attributes to look for on our Wellness Factor Tags at shelf
- Sensible Carbs: Limits 12g total sugar per serving: Must have Whole Grain or Good Source of Fiber (only certain categories); 1g or less saturated fat; 35g or less Carbohydrates per serving; passes through a universal filter.
- Sugar Aware: Less than 10g of total sugars in each serving; used in high sugar containing categories.
- Whole grains: Contains foods with first ingredient listed as whole grain or if water is first, whole grain is second ingredient.
Source of Fiber:
- Good Source: Contains between 10-19% Daily Value per serving fiber; Contains >2.5g Fiber per serving and per RACC* and <4.9g per serving and per RACC and 3g or less of total fat per serving.
- Excellent Source: Contains >20% Daily Value per serving fiber; and 3g or less of total fat per serving.
- Low Saturated Fat: Contains <1g Saturated Fat per serving, 3g or less total fat per serving and <15% calories from saturated fat; Meals/Main dishes: <1g saturated fat per 100g product and <10% calories from saturated fat.
- Omega 3s: Represents foods that contain fatty acids found in fish that benefit heart healthy by reducing blood fats.
- Lean: Represents foods that contain good source of protein and <10g or less total fat, <4.5mg saturated fat and <95mg cholesterol per serving.
* (RACC) Reference Amount Customarily Consumed. Source: FDA