Take charge of your health.
How to manage type 1 and type 2 Diabetes, and the three most important methods to drastically improve your lifestyle.
Managing your health
Food and diet
Food is important in keeping your body healthy – whether you have Diabetes or not – however, most people don’t pay much attention to their basic nutritional needs.
In general, you should limit your fat intake, and include food from each of the food groups at each meal. If you are overweight, eat smaller portions, reduce your intake of fat, and limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
If you are diabetic, you should follow a nutritionally sound diet to realise three important benefits:
- Achieve and maintain good control of your blood glucose levels.
- Regulate body weight.
- Prevent or delay the potential long-term complications of Diabetes.
You should also consider visiting a dietician to work out a diet plan suitable for your own particular lifestyle. A word of caution: there are many trending and popular diet plans that may not be suitable for your condition. For example, the Banting Diet allows a high amount of fat intake per day, which could be dangerous for someone with Diabetes if they have raised cholesterol levels too. The component of the diet that advocates reducing carbohydrates may be beneficial to a diabetic patient, as many of the carbohydrates that are commonly eaten have high levels of sugar contained in them and are nutritionally poor eg. white bread, cakes, pizza and pasta.
Regular exercise helps your body lower blood glucose levels, promotes weight loss and reduces stress.
Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine, especially if you have led an inactive lifestyle. Always stop exercising immediately if you feel any pain or feel tired and/or dizzy. In particular, you should consult with your doctor to assess how best to adjust your insulin and diet or food intake – to prevent low blood glucose levels while exercising.
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Treating type 1 Diabetes
The aim of diabetic treatment is to maintain your blood glucose levels within the normal range (4 – 6 mmol/l). This may include healthy eating, exercise and insulin injections.
Good management of Type 1 Diabetes entails regular blood glucose monitoring – regularly testing your blood glucose levels and adjusting your treatment accordingly.
Treating type 2 Diabetes
The three main treatment options for Type 2 Diabetes are diet, exercise, and medication. In Type 2 Diabetes, diet and exercise alone are often all that is necessary to bring blood glucose down to manageable levels.
Sometimes oral medication is necessary. Oral medication (also known as hypoglycemic agents), assist the body in metabolising glucose obtained from food. These drugs are not insulin, but they do stimulate insulin-producing cells to secrete more insulin, and they help overcome insulin resistance. The most important thing to remember is that tablets are used only as an addition to diet and exercise, never in place of them. Diet and exercise remain the mainstay of treatment.
Controlling blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels are also important components of treatment, and Type 2 Diabetics may well (after a period of time) require supplementary insulin injections as well. The necessity for insulin treatment is greatly reduced if the patient commits to a healthy diet and exercise program, and lives a generally healthy lifestyle (limiting alcohol intake and extreme stress, and gets enough sleep).
We all have questions.
Below are some of the answers to the most common questions that you need to know.
Which is worse – Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes?
“Worse” is a harsh comparison. The difference between these two types of Diabetes is that Type 1 requires insulin, and it never goes away. Type 2 requires consistent effort and can be managed over your lifetime.
What is the normal HbA1C level?
It is generally accepted that you should maintain HbA1C below 8%. The following guidelines are suggested by the South African Diabetes Association:
- 4 – 6% Non-Diabetic range.
- < 7% Well-controlled Diabetic 7% – 8% Acceptable Diabetic control > 8%
- Poor Diabetic control needs attention.
What is the main cause of Diabetes?
Diabetes (Type 1) is usually a predisposed or genetically inherited condition. Diabetes (Type 2) is caused by lifestyle choices. Gestational Diabetes can be caused by either genetics or lifestyle choices.
What are the first signs of Diabetes?
- Excessive thirst over a prolonged period.
- Increased frequency in the need to urinate.
- Significant weight loss or gain.
- You find yourself fatigued, tired, and irritable, on a regular basis.
- Open or ruptured wounds take a long time to heal.
- Blurred vision.
- Tingling sensations in your hands and feet.
Can you get life insurance if you have Diabetes?
Yes. AllLife can help you get up to R10million life insurance, as either a Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetic.
Can I test myself for Diabetes?
Although you can easily test your own blood glucose levels at any time, only your doctor, nurse, or clinic team can confirm a Diabetes diagnosis. This is because a series of specific tests are required for diagnosis.
Getting tested for, monitoring and managing Diabetes
Getting tested for Diabetes is a process. The same goes for monitoring it after diagnosis.
Diabetes glossary for beginners
Understand common Diabetes terms
Types of Diabetes
Knowing which Diabetes type you have is important for managing it effectively.