More than 35 million Americans are affected by type 2 diabetes. If you're one of them, you’ll be happy to hear about two promising new developments.
Scientists at Cambridge University have pioneered an artificial pancreas that doubles the time patients remain within their target glucose range. The procedure could be commercially available within the next year.
Meanwhile, another study suggests you might find immediate relief by changing your diet. A low carbohydrate diet reversed type 2 diabetes in 51% of participants, and 97% experienced some increase in blood glycemic control.
Without proper management, diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other serious complications. Learn more about low carbohydrate diets and other strategies for preventing and managing type 2 diabetes.
Patients with type 2 diabetes cannot control their blood sugar levels, and more than 80% are overweight or obese. Restricting carbohydrates reduces surges in blood glucose and may help you lose weight.
1. Count carbohydrates. You’ll need to know what foods are low in carbohydrates to stay under your limit. That’s usually about 20 to 50 grams a day for a low-carbohydrate diet. Smart choices include fish, eggs, nonstarchy vegetables, and unsweetened dairy products.
2. Educate yourself. You’ll also need to understand the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates. Simple ones like candy and cake increase your blood sugar faster. The complex ones like brown rice and peas will give you fiber and energy.
3. Make substitutions. Avoiding carbohydrates is easier if you find ways to replace them in your favorite dishes. Wrap a burger in lettuce leaves instead of a bun. Eat pizza with cauliflower crust instead of the usual flour version.
4. Prepare for side effects. Your body may need time to adjust. Talk with your doctor if you experience issues like cramping and constipation.
Cutting back on carbohydrates is just one part of the picture. You’ll also need to consider the rest of your lifestyle and appropriate medical care.
1. Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you counter insulin resistance, manage blood pressure, and lose weight. Focus on strength training and aerobics. Monitor your blood sugar, especially if you use insulin.
2. Limit salt. Avoid foods with added salt that can increase your blood pressure. Choose unprocessed or minimally processed items. Read labels, and try other seasonings like garlic and ginger.
3. Quit smoking. Cigarette smokers are 30 to 40% more likely to develop diabetes, and tobacco aggravates the condition. If you’ve tried to quit, try again with various methods, like nicotine replacement devices and social support.
4. Take medication. Almost 90% of diabetes patients use oral medications, insulin, or both. The most common drug is metformin which helps regulate how much glucose your liver produces. You may also need insulin to help your body process sugar more efficiently.
5. Seek medical care. Living with diabetes requires regular checkups and blood sugar monitoring. When you have a sick day, call your doctor if you have a fever over 100 degrees, intense pain, or difficulty moving.
6. Get diagnosed. About one-third of patients with type 2 diabetes are unaware of their condition because the symptoms are often unnoticeable. The American Diabetes Association recommends screenings at 3-year intervals starting at age 45 or earlier and more frequent screenings if you’re at high risk.
Diabetes is a lifelong disease with no cure, but following your treatment plan could help you enjoy a long and happy life. A low carbohydrate diet is one more tool for managing your symptoms.
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