Managing Type 2 Diabetes: Lifestyle Changes and Medical Interventions

Millions of people worldwide are affected by Type 2 diabetes, a chronic disease, but one that is  preventable and usually reversible if changes are made at an early stage. Small, simple lifestyle routines and habits can make a big difference in the long term, for good or for bad. Today, we investigate how you can effectively help yourself and make a positive impact on your future health.

Being overweight or obese significantly increases your risk of Type 2 diabetes. Excess visceral fat smothers our organs and reduces their ability to function leading to an incapacitated form of sugar control. It is now thought that everybody has their own personal fat threshold determining their body’s capability of managing blood sugar levels, so, even being slightly overweight can have a snowball effect on health. Keep a check on your weight by monitoring portion sizes and eating a balanced diet with as much whole, fresh foods as possible. Keep the fibre content of your diet high with plenty of vegetables on your plate and some whole meal options. Choose lean meats and fish but again, monitor your portion size, it is less than you think! Limit processed, sugary foods such as cakes and sweets as they tend to spike blood sugars and create an energy roller coaster. Remember, even a slight reduction in weight can have a positive impact on the body!

How do we help ourselves lose or maintain weight? Truth be told, you can have the best intentions with your diet and exercise but a solid foundation must be achieved first by managing your stress levels and quality of sleep. In today’s environment, living life at full speed is taken as the normal way to live, but the fact is that the body was not designed to survive at such a high pace continuously or to have to deal with the chemical reactions of such a lifestyle. Chronic, increased levels of adrenaline and cortisol leave the body in a constant “fight or flight” mode. This diverts blood flow from the digestive system and as a result, digestive issues can be the first sign of bigger problems to come. Poor memory, lack of energy, anxiety and an impaired immune system can all be warning signs and results of continuously high stress levels. Proper rest and relaxation are needed to bring hormone levels back to base. Mindfulness is a buzz word at the moment but it is difficult for people to just suddenly “switch off”.  Mindfulness, however, does not have to mean sitting in a silent room, contemplating the cosmos. Being mindful means being focused on something that helps your body and mind. So what is the one thing that you can lose track of time doing? What is the one thing where you are completely happy and you can just be you? For some people this is meditation but maybe for you it is making a jigsaw, for others it is listening to or playing music. Maybe it is walking by a river and listening to the sound of nearby birds and water trickling over pebbles. Maybe it is getting lost in a good sci-fi book or practicing yoga. Whatever it is, find that one thing and Immerse yourself in it. Just do it! Regularly!

Sleep is a cornerstone of existence. Our bodies need sleep in order to renew cells, to recharge the brain, to de-stress and allow muscles to rest. It has been noted that lack of sleep leads to increased weight, poor food choices, digestive issues and lack of concentration. It’s not rocket science, you can’t expect a car to do it’s job with the wrong parts so why would you expect your body to cope without proper care? Look at the bigger picture, if our cells don’t renew correctly we age quicker and we take longer to heal. If we make poor food choices because we are constantly trying to stay awake, we gain weight. Lack of sleep is a stress on the body because it has not had enough time to recover. So the question is, where is that going to leave us in ten years? We are here to live and experience life in all it’s glory, not to suffer and regret.

Keeping yourself healthy physically is also important. It keeps our muscles active and strong, including our heart and lungs. Physical activity produces Endorphins in the body, the “happy hormones” that give us that feeling of elation afterwards. Exercise also gives the brain a burst of Dopamine, another hormone linked to that feeling of elation and one that drives us to want to keep experiencing such a sensation. From an energy point of view, exercise burns calories and weight loss and maintenance is a number’s game when it all boils down to it. The amount you take in has to either match or be less than what you are giving out! If there is an excess, it will be stored as fat. A lot of today’s convenience food is very calorie dense and those calories add up very quickly! We have to be mindful of where our personal balance is. Women have a lot less to play with than men so ladies, be warned!  Learn to read food labels, be aware of the calories you are taking in and how you are burning them off. The one thing to be aware of when you are over weight and taking part in exercise is the impact it can have on your joints. The skeleton must be able to bare what you are asking of it. Activities such as walking or swimming are a great way to burn calories, they are low impact on joints yet high impact on calorie burn. We also need to take part in exercise to ensure our bone density remains high. Osteoporosis can be very limiting in later life and so bone has to remain strong and supportive. Taking a Vitamin D supplement may be needed, especially in our colder climate to ensure calcium is absorbed efficiently.

Proactive steps now are a wise way to ensure long term health. As the saying goes, your health is your wealth and not a truer word was spoken! Think of all the memories and amazing experiences that are in your future. Don’t let weight or illness stop you from being able to do all of this. Keep a balanced diet, stay active, have a good sleep routine and balance stress levels.  All of these steps lead to a bright future.

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