Although people with diabetes should monitor their diets, the approach for a person with type 1 diabetes is different than the approach for a person with type 2.
People with type 1 diabetes should coordinate their diets with their insulin regimen. The goal is to match how much insulin they take to how much insulin they need, which is largely determined by meal size and content. Thus, it is important for a person with type 1 to understand the impact of specific foods on glucose levels.
Previously, people with type 1 diabetes had to plan meals around when they took their insulin, but the emphasis now is on tailoring shots around eating habits. Frequent monitoring of blood sugar allows people with this type of diabetes to adjust their insulin dose to match glucose levels and make corrections if necessary. You should have regular eating patterns to maintain tight control.
People who are overweight or obese are more prone to develop Type 2 diabetes. A person with this type of diabetes should reduce his or her calorie, fat and salt intake, and increase their exercise. Modest weight loss (five to 10 pounds) may lower blood sugar levels to a range where medications become unnecessary.
People with diabetes should consult with a dietitian about proper diet.
People with diabetes can also use the diabetes food pyramid, which consists of six sections for food groups. Eat some foods from each group each day. The number of servings you should have each day from these six groups varies depending on your goals, and caloric and nutrition needs.
Fats, sweets, and alcohol do not have to be eliminated from your diet, but they must be consumed in moderation. If you drink alcohol, you must also be careful of low blood sugar reactions.
People with diabetes who have frequent hypoglycemia can carry around sweets to counteract hypoglycemia if their glucose starts to drop, according to the American Medical Association. Fruit juice, raisins, candy, or a glass of milk can work as well as fast-acting glucose tablets at raising sugar levels within about 10 to 15 minutes.
Exercise lowers glucose levels and boosts the body's sensitivity to insulin, countering the insulin resistance common to type 2 diabetes.
Even though people with either type of diabetes benefit from exercise, people with type 2 diabetes gain greatly because of their disease's relationship to obesity. Exercise consumes glucose and forces cells to draw on the glucose stored in the liver and muscles.
Because both insulin and exercise metabolize blood sugar, people with diabetes should be careful with insulin administration too close to exercise, because it may cause a hypoglycemic reaction.
Some medications for type 2 diabetes can cause blood sugar to drop too low during exercise. Check with your physician about medications' effects with exercise.
Generally, people with diabetes should spend at least 30 minutes doing aerobic exercise three or four times a week. The best times are usually one to three hours after eating, when blood sugar levels are highest. Before beginning or changing an exercise regimen, talk to your doctor.
Treatment options for diabetes have "exploded" recently.
According to the ADA, in addition to sulfonylureas, drugs that have been around since the 1950s, new classes of oral medication offer different courses of action, depending on a person's needs.
- Biguanides. These drugs decrease the amount of glucose produced and released by the liver.
- Thiazolidinediones. These drugs help insulin increase the absorption of glucose in muscle and fat, and reduce the amount of glucose produced and released by the liver.
- Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors. These drugs work by blocking the breakdown of starches in the intestine so the body does not absorb them into the blood.
- Meglitinides. These drugs stimulate the pancreas to release insulin.
- DPP-4 inhibitors. DPP-inhibitors increase insulin production by preventing the breakdown of a substance that is naturally made in the body. DDP-4 inhibitors allow this substance to remain active longer in the blood helping to decrease blood sugar levels when they are elevated.
There are also two injectable medications for people with diabetes. Pramlintide is approved to treat both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It is a form of a hormone normally produced in the beta cells that helps to maintain blood sugar levels. Exenatide was approved to treat type 2 diabetes. It is a form of a hormone found in the saliva of Gila monsters. It lowers blood glucose by increasing the secretion of insulin.