The best way to battle diabetes is by turning to a healthy lifestyle. So start following these lifestyle changes for type 2 diabetes today!
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic medical dysfunction caused by elevated blood sugar levels and resistance to the action of insulin.
Insulin is an essential hormone as it transports glucose from the blood to the cells where it’s needed.
In type 2 diabetes, the body cannot respond to insulin, and in its advanced stages, there may not be enough insulin production to meet the body’s needs.
High amounts of circulating blood glucose lead to disorders and complications of the immune, nervous, and circulatory systems.
Type 2 diabetes was previously referred to as “adult-onset diabetes” because it usually affects middle-aged and older people.
However, this condition now affects younger people, especially teenagers and obese children.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, as it accounts for over 90% of adult cases worldwide.
That said, a CDC report suggests that over 29 million Americans have diabetes. Also, one in four persons isn’t aware that they have diabetes.
That’s not all. In the United States, 88 million people have prediabetes, a condition of high blood glucose that is not high enough to be diabetes. Interestingly, 84% of this total have no idea that they’re prediabetic.
While the numbers might be shocking, type 2 diabetes is manageable. For context, treatment methods can range from antidiabetic medications to lifestyle modifications that can help lower circulating blood sugar levels.
What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a complex health condition caused by several factors. However, the onset of type 2 diabetes stems from the pancreas’ inability to process enough insulin required by the body.
When the pancreas can’t produce this vital hormone, the body’s glucose keeps rising.
While the causes are somewhat grey, physical inactivity and obesity are chief contributors to type 2 diabetes.
That said, other risk factors that predispose an individual to type 2 diabetes include:
1. Fat Distribution
Fat stored in the abdominal region rather than the thighs and hips can increase an individual’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
A waist circumference higher than 40 inches (males) 35 inches (females) poses a type 2 diabetes risk.
While it might seem as though eating healthy and engaging in physical activity prevents the onset of diabetes, this disorder runs in families.
Therefore, individuals are at greater risk if they come from a family line that fields numerous diabetic patients.
Although diabetes is a disorder that can happen to a person regardless of age, individuals aged 45 and older are more vulnerable to type 2 diabetes.
For some reason, people with Black, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American ethnic roots are more likely than their Caucasian counterparts to develop diabetes at some point in their life.
5. Blood Lipids Levels
When a person has high triglycerides and low levels of High-Density Lipoprotein (good cholesterol), they’re at risk of type 2 diabetes.
Women who have had to deal with gestational diabetes during pregnancy are more likely to develop diabetes in the future.
Symptoms Of Type 2 Diabetes
As we’ve seen from the statistics, most Americans living with diabetes don’t know they have it until it negatively impacts their health.
So, it’s possible to live with type 2 diabetes for years without being aware. Type 2 diabetes diagnosis usually happens during routine blood or urine tests for some other condition.
With type 2 diabetes, the earlier you can get wind of it, the better. Here are the early symptoms of type 2 diabetes:
- Excessive thirst;
- Constant hunger;
- Blurred vision;
- Frequent urination;
- Lethargy, fatigue, and general lack of energy;
- Tingling, numbness, painful hands and feet.
If the disease remains uncontrolled at this stage, life-threatening complications can ensue. Notable mentions are:
- Diabetic retinopathy (vision problems);
- Gum disease;
- Cardiac arrest;
- High blood pressure;
- Slow-healing wounds;
- Recurrent infections;
- Kidney issues (nephropathy).
Lifestyle Changes For Type 2 Diabetes
For those who have type 2 diabetes, specific lifestyle changes are enough to halt the progression of the disease. Top lifestyle modifications for type 2 diabetes include:
1. Proper Nutrition
Eating right is vital to maintaining healthy blood glucose levels. Thus, people with type 2 diabetes or those at risk of the disease may want to avoid high-sugar consumables such as processed snacks, soda, and fruit juices.
Also, processed meats, saturated fats, baked goods, margarine, and full-fat dairy products should go out of their eating menu.
While getting rid of these foods might seem daunting, they’re crucial in all ramifications. Rather than taking in these meals, adopting a type 2 diabetes diet must be up for consideration.
For perspective, this diet generally includes whole grains, legumes, whole fruits, nuts, avocados, vegetables (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower), and sweet potatoes.
That said, if they must add fat, it must be dietary variations from omega-3-fatty acid sources, including cod, tuna, sardines, flax seeds, and salmon.
2. Regular Physical Activity
Moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 150 minutes weekly (at least 30 minutes for five days) can help manage blood sugar levels and maintain overall health.
Physical activities may include walking briskly, cycling, jogging, skipping, swimming, performing gymnastics.
Patients can also have their health improved by incorporating muscle strengthening exercises into their workout regimen.
3. Weight Loss
Making concerted efforts to lose weight and maintaining them for more extended periods can slow the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Shedding about 7 – 10% of total body weight can prevent prediabetes from progressing rapidly to type 2 diabetes.
Ideally, patients should aim for a body mass index of between 18.5 and 24.9. That said, people with South Asian roots can aim for values within the confines of 18.5 to 22.9.
In some cases, medical practitioners can prescribe a weight loss pill to patients who cannot achieve significant weight loss through lifestyle changes alone.
4. Stress Reduction
The body responds to stress by releasing cortisol, a hormone that increases blood pressure and sugar levels.
When this happens, bodily functions like digestion and growth, unimportant for stress response, slow down to conserve energy.
However, repeated exposure to stressful situations can cause a spike in blood glucose levels, invariably increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Therefore, taking deliberate steps to manage stress can never be overemphasized. With regular deep breaths, meditations, and practicing mindfulness daily, you can prevent type 2 diabetes.
Stress reduction can also reduce the risk of developing diabetes-related complications.
5. Avoiding Long Periods Of Inactivity
While exercise is essential, individuals should avoid sitting still for long periods as staying sedentary increases their chances of having type 2 diabetes.
Thus, getting up and walking around at 30-minute intervals is vital to prevent blood glucose from rising to dangerously high levels.
Medical Treatment Of Type 2 Diabetes
The management or complete reversal of type 2 diabetes is possible with a combination of lifestyle adjustments and medications.
Metformin ranks as a common medication for treating type 2 diabetes.
Other medications include sulfonylureas (glyburide, glimepiride), glinides (repaglinide, nateglinide), and thiazolidinediones (rosiglitazone, pioglitazone).
A doctor may also prescribe insulin shots when lifestyle changes and medications do not reduce blood sugar to normal levels.
Type 2 diabetes is a common condition often caused by unhealthy behavior and genetic factors.
Patients can manage the disease by adopting healthier lifestyle choices or taking medications in severe cases.
Since things can take unexpected turns once in a while, patients should work closely with their healthcare provider to devise a management approach most appropriate to their needs.
So make sure to follow the above lifestyle changes for type 2 diabetes if you want to naturally reverse (as much as possible) the disease.