Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus(NIDDM), most commonly known as type 2 diabetes, is a disease that affects the production of insulin in the pancreas. Insulin receptors become resistant to insulin which causes glucose to be unable to get into cells. Glucose in the bloodstream rely on insulin to 'unlock' cells and bring glucose transport proteins to the surface of the cell membrane. Glucose can not get into cells without glucose transport proteins, making insulin and insulin receptors extremely important. Glucose is the body's primary source for energy; if glucose is unable to get into cells, the body does not receive enough energy to perform necessary functions. Type 2 Diabetics have a high level of glucose in their bloodstreams that they cannot utilize for energy. Unlike type 1, they are able to produce insulin, but type 2 diabetics' insulin is ineffective. Type 2 diabetes is usually caused by a high sugar diet, obesity, and/or a lack of exercise.
Type 2 Diabetics cannot eat or drink many simple sugars. If you want to eat a carbohydrate, stick with complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs need to be limited, but carbs are still a necessary part of every diet. There should be about 40-60 grams of carbs a meal, and about 120-160 grams a day. Fiber is an essential part of a diabetic diet; it is found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc. A healthy, balanced lifestyle with carbs, lipids, and proteins is integral to living longer with Type 2. Diabetics need a ratio of 2:1:1 of carbs to lipids to proteins to maintain a healthy diet.
Monitoring Blood Sugar
If you take insulin to help manage type 2 diabetes, your doctor may require you to test your blood sugar two or more times a day. Most of the time, blood sugar should be taken before a meal or before bedtime.
Your doctor will probably set your target blood sugar based on a variety of factors including
- Severity of Diabetes
- How long you have had diabetes
- Pregnancy status
- Health conditions
For most people, the Mayo Clinic recommends target blood sugar levels that are
- Between 80 and 120 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) for people under the age of 60 who have no other major health conditions
- Between 100 and 140 mg/dL or for those who have major health conditions
Blood sugar is usually measured with a small electronic device called a glucose meter. Here are the steps to use a glucose meter:
- Wash your hands and dry them thoroughly.
- Insert a test strip into your meter.
- Prick the side of your finger with the needle provided with your kit.
- Gently massage and squeeze your finger until a drop of blood forms.
- Touch and hold the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood.
- After a few seconds, the meter will display your blood glucose level on a screen.
The A1C Test is a test that measures the average glucose levels in the past three months. It can sometimes identify prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. It is a fairly accurate test, but it can not test large blood sugar increases or decreases in a span of time, just an average.
For people who don't have diabetes, the normal ranges are 4-6%. Any percentage above 7% is unhealthy and illustrates a necessity for change in diet and exercise.
Lifestyle and Exercise
Exercise is vital to maintaining and controlling Type 2 Diabetes. Regular physical activity is important in that it:
- Helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Burns calories to help you maintain or lose weight.
- Helps your cells become more sensitive to insulin.
- Removes some glucose from blood in a process different than insulin, therefore lowering blood sugar.
- Relieves stress.
- Helps you sleep better.
"First I needed to forgive myself for not eating right or working out. I accepted that I have type 2 diabetes and now I face it head on."
I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a little over a year ago. I never liked going to the doctor, but I felt so sick that I forced myself to go. After conducting a physical, my doctor diagnosed me with type 2 diabetes and said that I probably had it for years. I remember that I just sat in my doctor's office in shock and thought to myself, "My life was just saved."
After being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I took some time to reflect and realized that between my work and hobbies, I would put in 14-16 hour days with erratic meal schedules. When I did eat, I didn't make good food choices. Food was my comfort when I was stressed. My diet was heavy in carbohydrates and fats, and as a result, my health declined.
I decided that no matter how much my life was centered on food and how much I loved to eat unhealthy foods, it wasn't worth dying for and it was time to make a change. I began to research tips and recipes on the Internet to find out how to cook healthy foods. It took time to get used to it, but I've learned how important it is to focus on healthy cooking.
I also continued to see my doctor, who was very proactive. She taught me how to monitor my blood pressure, blood sugar and A1c. She also put me on medication and enrolled me in diabetes education classes.
During these classes, I learned more about what I needed to do to get my blood sugar under control, including daily monitoring, taking my medication and getting some exercise. For the first time in years, I began to exercise daily and I started to lose weight.
After sticking to my treatment plan, losing 30-35 pounds and adding exercise to my daily routine, my type 2 diabetes is now under control.
My advice to someone just diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is to accept it and face it head on. Get it under control as soon as you can and don't rely on any one solution. If that means you have to get up and start exercising, do it. If that means that you can't eat mashed potatoes again, replace them with something else. It gets better after you get over the initial hurdle and first few months.
Managing this disease takes time, but it's important to keep your mind and spirit positive and hopeful. Keep moving and work with your care team to find the solutions that work for you. Try to live as healthy as possible to help manage type 2 diabetes and reduce the risks of other complications.
"The typical response from people when I tell them I'm diabetic is, 'Oh, I'm sorry to hear that.' You know, I'm not. I'm a better athlete because of diabetes rather than despite it. I'm more aware of my training, my fitness and more aware of nutrition. I'm more proactive about my health."
"Life is not over because you have diabetes. Make the most of what you have, be grateful."
How to Test Your Blood Sugar (n.d.). In Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 6, 2016, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/blood-sugar/art-20046628?pg=2
The A1C Test and Diabetes (n.d.). In National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases . Retrieved December 6, 2016, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/diagnosis-diabetes-prediabetes/a1c-test
Physical Activity is Important (n.d.). In American Diabetes Association. Retrieved December 6, 2016, from http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/fitness/physical-activity-is-important.html
Barbara's Diabetes Story (2016, October 12). In American Heart Association. Retrieved December 6, 2016, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/Diabetes/DiabetesToolsResources/Barbaras-Diabetes-Story_UCM_315198_Article.jsp#.WEbCILIrKM8
Diabetes Quotes (n.d.). In Brainy Quote. Retrieved December 6, 2016, from https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/diabetes.html