Diabetes type 2 is a metabolic disorder where the pancreas does not secrete enough of insulin, the hormone responsible for maintaining the blood sugar levels, or insulin resistance develops in the body when cells stop responding to insulin.
Regardless of the cause leading to the development of this condition, dangerously high levels of glucose in the blood ensue owing to its non-consumption. It leads to a cascade of disturbances in different organ systems of the body putting undue stress on organs like the kidneys, brain, heart, and circulation and so on.
Therefore, once diabetes is diagnosed clinically, a proper treatment is an obligation to avoid the complications of this disease, which are debilitating and can be fatal. The different lines of therapeutic approach for type 2 diabetes are
- Dietary management
- Physical activity
Dietary management and incorporating some kind of physical activity are categorized as lifestyle changes for a diabetic patient, as diabetes is a lifetime condition and demands an unremitting management to stay ahead of any side effects associated with this disease.
Diet is an integral part of a diabetic treatment regime and it is not difficult to understand the reason why. Type 2 Diabetes develops as a consequence of bad eating habits and sedentary lifestyle, so the primary step is to correct the mistakes.
The principal target to achieve via diet manipulation is to maintain the blood sugar levels at optimum working levels for the bodily systems and avoid the insulin spikes that are created in response to unhealthy food. In doing so, if there is a little cut back on the weight, it is an added upshot because it leads to better insulin sensitivity of the cells and managing sugar levels becomes easier.
So what are the dietary principles for a diabetic diet?
- a low calorie
- low glycemic
- high fiber
The above attributes of dietary items help you please your taste buds, in addition to satisfying the satiety levels. What is more, the biochemical profile of the body (insulin and sugar) stays at equilibrium. This can be achieved via the following food choices
- more of fruits and vegetables
- lean proteins like fish, seafood, skinless chicken and turkey etc
- good fats like olive oils, fat-free dairy products, nuts, avocados etc
- whole grains
- beans and lentils
These are some of the examples of high fiber food sources, which deliver a low glycemic nutrient supply, thus maintaining blood sugar levels and an insulin curve (a steady insulin secretion) instead of a spike. Moreover, these can be combined in the form of delicious recipes, which are easier to stick to and incorporate into your life.
Some form of physical activity is an obligation for diabetic patients, be it cardio, strength training, yoga or aerobics. Half an hour of physical routine should be followed religiously by such individuals.
The activity can be a choice of preference according to the individual’s age and physical fitness level. Taking up swimming, cycling, running, simple jog or a brisk walk make excellent choices. Resistance training is another way of improving the body’s physique and improving bone structure.
If you have led a sedentary lifestyle, it is never too late to start but take a slow start and gradually build it up. This approach would build up the physical stamina and endurance. If you are already taking diabetic medications, ensure to monitor your blood sugar levels to avoid the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Medications for type 2 diabetes
If you have had no complications then adopting healthy eating habits and physical activity might be good enough therapy for balanced blood sugars. However, if the situation calls for intervention in terms of medicine, you might be prescribed a single drug or a combination, depending upon the overall fitness level of your body and any involvement of other systems.
Some of the drug options, both oral and injectable, for type II diabetes are
Oral medication for type 2 diabetes
Oral drugs are the first line of defense against a high blood sugar level and they work in a variety of ways. Some enhance the insulin sensitivity while others work on the pancreas to increase the hormone production.
Metformin (Glucophage) is the most frequently prescribed drug for diabetes and usually the first one. Metformin works in two ways
- it improves the insulin sensitivity
- it lowers the synthesis of glucose in liver
Thiazolidinediones also increase the insulin sensitivity of the body.
Sulfonylureas are another oral antidiabetics that work on the pancreas to increase the insulin production. Meglitinides work in similar fashion to sulfonylureas. However, they are rapid acting with fewer side effects than sulfonylureas.
DPP-4 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists reduce the total blood sugar levels by slowing the digestion of carbohydrates.
SGLT2 inhibitors are a new addition to the oral antidiabetics and they act upon kidneys to cut back on reabsorption of sugar and promoting its excretion in the urine.
Injectable options for type 2 diabetes
Injectable insulin, which is available as different options, is the preferred choice of drug in cases where diabetes presents with complications or risks of developing some.
- Insulin glulisine (Apidra)
- Insulin lispro (Humalog)
- Insulin aspart (Novolog)
- Insulin glargine (Lantus)
- Insulin detemir (Levemir)
- Insulin isophane (Humulin N, Novolin N)
These types differ in their mode of action as well as cost, however, the health of an individual can never be compromised and your physician is better at judging which type of insulin would suit you.
Surgical solution for type 2 diabetes
Bariatric surgery is the last resort to managing life-threatening blood sugar levels and weight gain. The eligibility criterion for this option is a BMI over 35 and the results are usually promising regarding the overall weight loss and balanced blood sugars.