Wellness Matters

Turning the Tables on Diabetes

June 17, 2015

When it comes to diabetes, there is some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the medical community better understands the disease, has improved methods to diagnose and treat the disease, and recognizes that rates of microvascular disease complications, like diabetic retinopathy, are steadily declining.
Put that’s only part of the story. The bad news is that cases of Type 2 diabetes are increasing, people are getting it younger, morbidity has increased, and this rapid increase is causing a public health emergency.
Those most at risk for diabetes are people who:
  • Have a family history of the disease.
  • Are overweight or obese.
  • Are over age 45.
  • Are African American, Native American, Hispanic, Asian American, Asian Indian or Pacific Islander.
  • Have a history of gestational diabetes.
The best advice we can give is education, eat right, exercise right, and take and know your medications, if you want to turn the tables on diabetes.

Education

Modern medicine notes that diabetes is not just one disease, but a group of disorders where the patient has high blood glucose (blood sugar) either because insulin production is inadequate or because the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both. Ten percent have Type 1 diabetes, meaning the body does not produce insulin. The remaining cases are classified as Type 2 diabetes, meaning the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body can’t use insulin in the right way.
Glucose is needed as fuel to supply energy to the cells. In diabetics, this fuel has a hard time entering the cells.

Eat Right

What you eat and how you burn those calories are critical. The objective is to reduce consumption of calories, fats, starches and sugars, and to increase the amounts of fiber you get from vegetables and fruits. It’s important to fill more than half of our plates with vegetables.
A healthy meal plan for people with diabetes is generally the same as a healthy diet for anyone – low in saturated and trans fat, moderate in salt and sugar, with meals based on lean protein, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and fruit.

Exercise

Eating the right foods in the right amounts isn’t enough. Exercise goes hand-in-hand with eating. The goal is to burn off more than you take in. And while all kinds of exercise are effective, the key is how long you exercise. Length of time is more important than the intensity of the exercise.

Medications

The final strategy for turning the tables on diabetes is medications. No longer are physicians limited to the older, traditional agents. There are newer classes of oral agents that are more effective in helping to control diabetes and improve a patient’s quality of life. In fact, physicians have more medication choices than ever before. That’s why is important that you check with your physician and make sure that you are getting the best medications for you. Be sure to use those medications as directed.
The incidents of diabetes may be increasing, but if we know the facts, eat right and exercise, we have a better chance of taking control and reversing the trend.

About the Author

Dr. Michael Brennan, MD, CDE
Dr. Michael J. Brennan, MD, CDE specializes in Adult and Pediatric Endocrinology at Cone Health.

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