Type 2 diabetes, otherwise known as lifestyle diabetes or mature onset diabetes is much more common than Type I. In Type 2 diabetes the pancreas either does not produce adequate levels of insulin or the body becomes resistant to its own insulin.
Type I diabetes, also known as adolescent diabetes, differs from Type 2 in that the body stops producing insulin altogether. Type I diabetes is generally diagnosed in children or young adults. Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed in older adults, however, it is becoming substantially more prevalent in the younger population.
With the onset of diabetes, whether it be Type I or Type 2, we lose our ability to adequately utilize sugar. When this occurs, blood sugar levels increase due to the body’s inability to transport sugar into the cells and out of the blood stream. Sugar is very important in that it is the basic fuel source for the cells in our bodies. Insulin is necessary for the transport of sugar from the blood and into the cells.
Diabetes is a serious condition and can lead to many other health problems. Some problems that diabetics commonly encounter are an increased risk for heart and circulatory problems, high blood pressure, visual problems and blindness, nerve damage, and kidney damage. With the diagnosis of diabetes, it becomes extremely important that blood sugar fluctuations are tightly controlled. With good control of blood sugar levels and the prevention of prolonged periods of elevated blood sugar, people with diabetes can live long and healthy lives.
Fortunately for the newly diagnosed diabetic, there are more and more tools available to help monitor and control the condition. Glucose meters are becoming smaller and easier to use. Blood samples necessary for glucose meter use are much smaller than in the past. Painful finger pricks can now be avoided with blood samples being able to be taken from alternate, less sensitive areas, such as the forearm. In the relatively near future, there will be non-invasive glucose monitoring devices not requiring a sample of blood at all.
A simple blood test, known as the A1c test, can measure the average blood glucose levels over the previous three months. This test is a very good way to monitor and critique how effective current treatments, diet, medications, etc. have been recently. This test is now available for home use and as such does not even require a visit to the doctor.
Type 2 diabetics have more options available to them for blood sugar control than do Type I diabetics. Not only are there oral medications, often eliminating the need for insulin injection treatment, but other methods that may eliminate the need for medications altogether.
Type 2 diabetics should look to multiple sources of information in order to determine the best methods available to deal with their condition. A good start is a physician specializing in the treatment of diabetes. Most physician specialists will have nutritional counseling available to help understand the relationship of various food items with blood sugar levels.
Additionally, diabetics should become very familiar with vitamin, mineral, and herbal options to improve blood sugar metabolism and control. A few examples of supplements that are well known to help in this regard are chromium, magnesium, and vanadyl sulfate. Various natural glucose transport factors can be very helpful in aiding the body’s transport of glucose from the blood and into the cells. Vanadyl sulfate has been shown to improve glucose sensitivity and decrease insulin resistance.
Various herbal preparations have been shown to significantly improve blood sugar levels, sugar metabolism, and reportedly even improve the function of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Notably, Gymnema sylvestre, known as “sugar destroyer” in Sandskrit, has been shown to have positive effects and benefits for diabetics.
Along with proper nutrition, appropriate supplements and vitamins, other important considerations are weight control and exercise. Excess weight tremendously increases the burden on the pancreas as fat requires much more insulin than lean tissue. Exercise not only helps control body fat and reduce weight, but additionally aids the transport of sugar from the blood and into the cells.
Diabetes is a very serious condition, but proper diet, glucose monitoring, and exercise can substantially improve our ability to control the condition. We should attempt to educate ourselves not only in the importance of tight blood sugar control, but also the various methods and options available to help in this regard. By utilizing good judgment in diet, weight control, exercise, and appropriate supplementation, diabetics can markedly reduce complications and lead long and healthy lives.