The diabetes action plan

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Diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases in the world – and this upward trajectory is likely to continue as the rate of obesity steadily increases. However, it is not all doom and gloom as following basic lifestyle guidelines can help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes as well as insulin resistance. Pam Pillay investigates.

The three treatment pillars

To successfully manage or prevent the onset of diabetes, a three-step approach should be followed:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Medication

By following a healthy diet and a sustainable exercise regimen, you can keep type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance at bay. If you have been diagnosed type 1, 2 or insulin resistant and medication has become necessary, these conditions can be managed perfectly by ensuring all three steps are followed religiously.

Diet

Your diet or eating plan should include plenty of the following:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean meats or proteins
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy
  • Healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids)
  • Water

Maintaining this type of diet along with ensuring good blood glucose levels will ensure that the complications associated with diabetes like hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease, gout, neuropathy and deteriorating vision can be staved off. The key to maintaining healthy blood glucose levels is focusing on the carbohydrate content of the foods and beverages you consume. The three main goals are to manage:

  • The type of carbohydrates consumed: These should be of a low glycaemic index (GI).  A low-GI carbohydrate will allow blood glucose levels to rise slowly in the blood, therefore avoiding hyperglycaemic (high blood glucose levels) or hypoglycaemic (low blood glucose levels) episodes. It will also place less pressure on the pancreas to release insulin.
  • The amount of carbohydrates consumed: Planning or knowing how much carbohydrates should be consumed at each meal ensures that there won’t be a large dumping of glucose into the blood stream, which could once again lead to hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia as well as straining the pancreas.
  • The timing or distribution of carbohydrates consumed: This is also important in preventing periods of hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia. It is a good idea to have main meals no more than four to five hours apart and include snacks in between the three main meals. Essentially, it would mean eating every two hours. It may sound like a lot of eating but it will ensure a more constant blood glucose level.

Exercise

This has so many benefits for everyone but especially so for people living with diabetes. These benefits include:

  • Helping the body utilise insulin to control blood glucose levels
  • Reducing the risk for heart disease and stroke
  • Burning body fat
  • Strengthening and toning muscles
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Decreasing cholesterol levels by decreasing LDL (bad cholesterol) and increasing HDL (good cholesterol)
  • Increasing the metabolism and boosting energy levels
  • Decreasing stress levels

Remember to monitor blood glucose levels before, during and after exercise. This is especially important for people with type 1 diabetes.

Medication

It is very important that you do not miss or skip taking any prescribed medication. Ensure that it is taken at the same time every day. There are various types of medication available, which depends on the type of diabetes:

Insulin

This is used for type 1 diabetes. It is also prescribed for type 2 diabetes in cases where oral hypoglycaemics are no longer effective on their own due to natural progression of the disease or poor blood glucose control.

Oral hypoglycaemics

These tablets perform a few functions, from working on the liver or intestine to working on the pancreas in order to control both insulin and glucose levels in the blood.

Diabetes is a perfectly manageable disease if the three steps above are followed. Finding an eating plan and exercise programme that are both sustainable and enjoyable means half the battle has been won. If you are struggling to decide what and how to eat as well as what types of exercise are suitable, consult professionals that can help you with this. Ensuring that medication is taken as prescribed and going for routine check-ups guarantee a victory in the battle against diabetes.

Source:http://www.vital.co.za/articles/diabetes-action-plan/#more-11699

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