About 422 million people around the world, including more than 30 million Americans, have diabetes. Approximately ninety percent of them have type 2 diabetes. People with this condition cannot effectively use insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas that helps the body turn blood sugar (glucose) into energy.
The inability to use insulin, called insulin resistance, results in increasing levels of blood sugar, which, if not controlled, can significantly raise the risk of major health problems such as blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation. In 2015, the World Health Organization estimated that 1.6 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes. Until recently, this type of diabetes was only seen in adults, but it is now also occurring increasingly and more frequently in children.
Obesity is the most significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes and other metabolic conditions, and affects one in three adults worldwide.
The secret to managing type 2 diabetes isn’t found in a pill. In most cases, the best way to treat type 2 diabetes is by practicing healthy habits on a regular basis.
Keeping close tabs on your diet is a major way to help manage type 2 diabetes. A healthy diet for people with type 2 diabetes includes vegetables, whole grains, beans, fresh fruit, lean meats, and low-fat dairy.
Focus on eating fruit and non-starchy vegetables, like broccoli, carrots, and lettuce, and having smaller portions of starchy foods, meats, and dairy products. Be especially careful about loading up on foods that are high on the glycemic index (GI) and especially the glycemic load (GL), systems that rank foods according to how they affect glucose levels.
High glycemic index foods are going to be primarily processed foods. Those processed foods tend to have more white sugar and flour in them, which are higher on the GI. Foods lower on the GI include vegetables, especially non-starchy vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy greens and whole-grain products, such as brown rice (as opposed to white rice).
Exercise Regularly as Part of Your Type 2 Diabetes Treatment Plan The more intense the exercise, the better. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) may be better for weight loss and glucose control than continuous aerobic activity like jogging. HIIT involves alternating between short bursts of increased intensity exercise and rest — for instance, running and then walking on and off throughout the workout.
Regular weightlifting sessions can also help keep blood sugar levels steady. Use weights or resistance bands for 30 to 45 minutes two or three times a week. The CDC recommends getting at least 150 minutes a week of brisk walking or a similar activity, which comes out to about 30 minutes a day, five times per week.