Whether you are newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or have been living with it for years, you can make small changes to your life that could potentially turn your life around. You could come off the insulin injections, you could stop taking tons of medications, you could potentially reverse your diabetes.
Be warned, it will not happen right away. You will need to have patience and persevere. You need to set your goals, keep them in your heart the entire time. It will be hard. You will feel devastated and tired and frustrated, but you can do this. My favorite quote from wherever I had heard it, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
1. Lose (Just A Little) Weight
As your body gains weight, it can have more difficulty regulating blood sugar levels with the insulin your body naturally produces. This leads to insulin resistance, your pancreas will produce more and more insulin to move the sugar from your blood into your cells. But it will become less effective and can cause damage to your pancreas.
Insulin promotes fat storage and weight gain. It causes an infinite cycle of weight gain, insulin resistance, more insulin production, more weight gain. But modest weight loss, 5 to 10% of your body weight, can lead to huge improvements. Just a 7% loss can improve insulin sensitivity by 57%!
2. Water Down Blood Sugar
The more dehydrated you are, the more concentrated the sugars in your blood become. Those who drink less than 16 ounces of water per day have a higher risk of developing elevated blood sugar levels compared with those who drank more. You can drink water, herbal tea, and milk. Coffee should be limited to three cups a day, caffeine can dehydrate you.
3. Try Exercise Snacking
Instead of doing 30 consecutive minutes of exercising, try to spread the physical activity throughout the day. Maybe three 10-minute walks throughout the day. Research suggests that these bite-size bits of activity can help control blood sugar better than one longer workout.
Don’t forget to do various types of exercise, like aerobics and strength training. Adults naturally lose 8% of their muscle mass every 10 years between ages 40 and 70, diabetes can double that. Try spending 10 minutes a day building strength by using weights, resistance bands, or body weight moves.Another 10 minutes doing aerobic activity such as fast walking, swimming, jogging, etc. Then another 10 minutes of stretching, which will improve joint movement and reduce chances of injury.
Walking as much as possible throughout the day matters!
4. Muscle Up With Protein
Protein is important for maintaining muscle and stimulating several hormones that contribute to blood sugar regulation. Focus on fish, white-meat chicken, plant-based sources, and lean cuts of beef. Make sure you’re eating protein at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
5. Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19
People with diabetes, obesity or both are at increased risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19. Research suggests that COVID can worsen diabetes by causing damage to the pancreas and system-wide inflammation that increases insulin resistance.
Even if you get COVID after having been vaccinated, it should indirectly result in less COVID impact for preexisting diabetes. You can get a milder case of COVID with the vaccine. Also don’t forget to stay up to date with your other vaccines as well.
6. Don’t Focus On Sugar
After being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for the first time, people often go to extremes, like drastically limiting carbs. But too few carbs can lead to fatigue, nutritional deficiencies and dangerously low blood sugar. Women should aim for 30-45 grams per meal and men should get 60-75 grams.
Proper nutrition is so important after a diabetes diagnosis, meaning consulting with a registered dietician or certified diabetes care and education specialist is very important.
7. Let The Meds Come As Needed
It’s common for people who are trying to their diabetes to feel like failures if they can’t get off their medications. Even if you do manage to come off your medications, medications could still play an important role in your life, like insulin. Don’t feel defeated by the amount of medications you have, hopefully one day, you’ll knock them out. You can do this!
AARP Magazine, Dec 2021/Jan 2022