Life as a Diabetic Type 2

What is type 2 Diabetes?

In type 2 Diabetes, insulin is produced, but it is not accepted by the cells, and the insulin receptors do not respond. That means that there is no glucose energy in the cells. However, it can be controlled by diet and exercise.

Dietary Guidlines

Type 2 diabetics have to be very cautious of what they eat. If they were to eat a meal that was high in carbohydrates their blood sugar would rise, because of the glucose breaking down and getting into the blood sugar faster. But because carbohydrates are essential for everyone to survive, it's best to have complex carbohydrates like green vegetables and whole grains. They also have to mind the proteins they eat, like processed meat. It's ideal for type 2 diabetics to eat lean proteins that are low in saturated fat, like fish and turkey. Stay away from processed foods like hot dogs. When eating fats, make sure to eat mostly monounsaturated fats, like walnuts and avocados, and limit saturated fats like butter and gravy. The ratio of carbohydrates to proteins to lipids is 2:1:1. You should take in no more than 60g per carbohydrates per meal, and 180g per day.

Monitoring Blood Sugar

Daily monitoring for diabetes can be done by a glucose test strip and a lancing device. The lancing device is inserted into your finger and the test strip will be used to test the drop of blood produced. When you check your blood sugar levels they should be under 130 mg/dl when fasting in the morning. 1-2 hours after a meal, your blood sugar levels should be up to 180 mg/dl. Someone without diabetes would have an A1C level of below 5.7. When you test someone for diabetes using A1C level and it comes out as an A1C level of above 6.4 on two separate occasions, they have diabetes. When you monitor your A1C it should ideally be 7%. A type 2 diabetic would typically check their blood sugar and/or A1C levels before meals, or before breakfast ideally. A long term diabetic, however, would only need to get their A1C levels checked about once a year to see how well the treatment plan is working.

Lifestyle and Exercise

As a type 2 diabetic, exercise is very important. It helps lower blood pressure, control weight, and energize you, as well as other benefits that apply to everyone. Muscles can use glucose without insulin, so regardless if you're a diabetic or not, your muscles get the glucose they need while exercising thus lowering your blood glucose levels. Exercising makes your insulin more effective, so by exercising, your insulin resistance goes down and your cells use the insulin more effectively. Exercising can also help with long term complications like heart problems. People with diabetes are susceptible to developing blocked arteries (arteriosclerosis) which can lead to heart attack.

Type 2 Diabetes Stories

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Jeffrey Lisitza, a native of Chicago, was a typical, healthy, 20-something guy. But by the time he had reached his early 30s, his health started to change. “I was gaining weight consistently, I was always tired, and I was always thirsty,” he says. “These are very clear signs of type 2 diabetes.” In fact, obesity is one of the largest risk factors for type 2 diabetes, which occurs when your body can no longer produce enough insulin or make use of the insulin it produces, often leading to high blood sugar levels. Diabetes has become a growing health problem in America and around the world — 366 million people worldwide and 25.8 million Americans are living with the condition. Jeffrey is one of them. He received a type 2 diabetes diagnosis from his doctor in the early stages of his condition, and he immediately began diabetes treatment. However, his initial attempts to control his blood sugar proved to be relatively unsuccessful. “For the first few years, I took my pills and went about my life,” he says. “But as time went on, my weight began to increase, and my diabetes became more and more out of control." What Jeffrey didn't realize is that diabetes cannot be managed with medication alone. To keep blood sugar levels under control, people with diabetes need to follow a healthy diet, live an active lifestyle, and reach or maintain a healthy weight. "I was given more pills and insulin, and the amount of insulin I needed increased over the years,” Jeffrey says. In November 2009, insulin was no longer effective, and his weight continued to go up.

Taking Control of His Diabetes: Jeffrey’s diabetes diagnosis and even his struggle to control his blood sugar are not completely surprising. Like many people with the condition, he has a family history of diabetes. “I lost my father to complications of type 2 diabetes about 10 years ago,” he says. Diabetes can lead to serious health complications and increase your risk for many other health issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, kidney disease, and nerve damage. So it’s important to manage this condition. “I finally woke up one day, almost two years ago, and realized I had two choices to make: start losing weight and taking back control of my life, or die.” Jeffrey’s epiphany came as his weight was nearing the morbid obesity range, and diabetes medications weren't able to control his blood sugar. At this point, losing weight was the only viable option. “On Nov. 14, 2009, I started a diet program,” he says. “I lost nearly 100 pounds in the 15 months I was on it. My insulin injections became less and less as time went on.” Jeffrey has continued to watch his diet and has lost even more weight. Once 355 pounds, Jeffrey, now age 56, weighs 240 pounds and needs to lose just 20 more to reach his goal weight.

Diabetes Care: Secrets of Success: Jeffrey says that he has become quite the cook of healthy, diabetes-friendly meals. “Now that I am eating my own cooking — and by the way, I am an awesome cook — I eat a lot of chicken and fish along with fruits and vegetables, sweet potatoes, healthy pastas [low-glycemic], and brown rice,” he says. “I do still indulge — you can't live in the Chicago area and not have pizza occasionally — but I have learned to eat in moderation." When it comes to snacks, Jeffrey applies some sound-nutrition rules: Fruit and yogurt are now the norm for him. The result has been a total health turnaround that has allowed Jeffrey to control his blood sugar, get a handle on his diabetes diagnosis, and greatly improve his life overall.

When I work, a lot of times I have to lose weight, and I do that, but in my regular life I was not eating right, and I was not getting enough exercise. But by the nature of my diet and that lifestyle - boom! The end result was high blood sugars that reach the levels where it becomes Type 2 diabetes. I share that with a gajillion other people. Tom Hanks

Jeffrey Lisitza

Citations

Checking your Blood Glucose. (2015, March 3). In American Diabetes Association. Retrieved December 6, 2016.

A1C Test. (2016, January 7). In Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 6, 2016.

Monitoring Blood Sugar with Type 2 Diabetes. (2009, April 16). In Everyday Health. Retrieved December 6, 2016.

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