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Tips for Managing Type 2 Diabetes

Man with his family in a park

 

 

If you or a loved one have recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you may be feeling scared or uncertain about how to manage this common disease effectively.

 

While it will certainly take some time to adjust to, you are not alone in the journey; there is an abundance of resources and supports to assist you in what may be a difficult transition period in your life.

 

While type 2 diabetes is a serious disease, it can be managed with diet, exercise, weight management, and stress reduction. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol can also play an important role in keeping your blood glucose levels in the ideal range. When diabetes is left untreated, it can lead to additional health concerns, so it is important to do what you can now to reduce or delay issues with organs, nerves, and eyesight.

 

As pharmacists play a key role in supporting people who have type 2 diabetes, we have prepared a few tips for managing the disease below. We hope they help you see that living with type 2 diabetes is doable and that your local pharmacy can be a highly accessible wealth of knowledge and support for you or your loved one. Read on to learn more.

 

 

What is Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a disease that impairs the way the body produces or uses insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate the amount of glucose in the blood). Insulin plays an important role because it is essential for ensuring the body can function correctly.

 

Without insulin working to keep blood glucose levels in balance – either because the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin or because the body cannot use insulin correctly – sugar in the blood remains too high for too long.

 

When left untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to health concerns related to nerves, blood vessels, and organs. Therefore, it is essential to diagnose diabetes as early as possible and learn how to manage it with lifestyle changes and medications. 

 

 

How to Manage Type 2 Diabetes

Unlike type 1 diabetes (which is an autoimmune disease that attacks the body and destroys cells within the pancreas responsible for making insulin), type 2 diabetes is typically lifestyle related. While this reality can be a tough pill to swallow, it can also bring you some comfort knowing that you ultimately have significant control over your diabetes management. 

 

To manage type 2 diabetes, you or your loved one can focus on five key lifestyle adjustments, including:

  • Eating a balanced and healthy diet
  • Managing weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Reducing stress
  • Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake
  • Taking medications as prescribed
  • We dive into the importance of each of these changes below.
  • Eating a balanced and healthy diet

 

Ensuring you or your loved one eat a balanced, healthy diet is critical for managing type 2 diabetes. This is because different types of foods and drinks can spike blood sugar and work against all your other efforts to keep blood glucose levels in the target ranges. Paying attention to portions and carbohydrate counts is equally important.

 

Nutrition is a robust topic, and every individual has different requirements based on their age, height, and unique nutritional needs. For that reason, be sure to utilize your dietician or nutritionist and ask them to help you determine the best food choices and portion sizes for you.

 

As a rule, it is best to avoid sugary beverages that are high in sugar and calories (unless your blood sugar becomes too low). Processed, salty, or fatty foods should also be minimized to make more room for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, lean meats, and legumes.

 

Eating a Balanced and Healthy Diet

Ensuring you or your loved one eat a balanced, healthy diet is critical for managing type 2 diabetes. This is because different types of foods and drinks can spike blood sugar and work against all your other efforts to keep blood glucose levels in the target ranges. Paying attention to portions and carbohydrate counts is equally important.

 

Healthy food in a bowl

 

Nutrition is a robust topic, and every individual has different requirements based on their age, height, and unique nutritional needs. For that reason, be sure to utilize your dietician or nutritionist and ask them to help you determine the best food choices and portion sizes for you.

 

As a rule, it is best to avoid sugary beverages that are high in sugar and calories (unless your blood sugar becomes too low). Processed, salty, or fatty foods should also be minimized to make more room for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, lean meats, and legumes.

 

Managing Weight

Weight management is another important part of controlling type 2 diabetes as it can help improve blood sugar and blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, improve overall well-being, and increase energy levels.

 

Your doctor, dietician, nutritionist, and pharmacist can all assist you in reaching your weight management goals. Diet, stress, activity levels, and other medical conditions can impact weight, so do not feel shy to rely on the help of the various supports available to you.

 

Remember that weight loss does not happen overnight and that you are trying to adjust to many new changes in your life. Try to take everything one step at a time and do the best you can.

 

Exercising Regularly

Since exercising uses more of your muscles at increased intensity over a short time, more energy is used in your body, allowing you to regulate blood glucose. In addition, regular exercise also improves your blood pressure and reduces complications associated with diabetes (such as heart disease).

 

If it has been a while since you had a regular exercise routine, speak with your doctor before starting a new regime. Be sure to let them know if you experience shortness of breath or chest pain while exercising.

 

Aim for 150 minutes of moderate to higher-intensity aerobic exercises each week, starting off slowly and working your way up to more. For example, try walking, cycling, jogging, and other activities that get your heart pumping. Weight training can also be very beneficial when movements are completed correctly.

 

Reducing Stress

Did you know prolonged stress can impact your hormones and increase your blood sugar level? When you are stressed, it is also much harder to stick with your plan to eat healthily and exercise regularly.

 

Man on a yoga mat meditating

 

Pay attention to how you feel throughout your day and in different situations. When possible, try to avoid or remove yourself from your most common stressors. Of course, that is not always doable, but there are many strategies for relaxation and stress management that you may find helpful in your pursuit of stress reduction.

 

Quitting Smoking and Reducing Alcohol Consumption

Smoking cigarettes is another factor that can make regulating blood sugar challenging. This is because smoking results in temporary blood sugar increases. In addition, smoking can increase the likelihood of complications with diabetes, such as nerve damage and kidney disease.

 

Alcohol should also be consumed in moderation and only if your doctor has given you the go-ahead. This is because drinking alcohol can lower your blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours after consumption. For this reason, never drink alcohol on an empty stomach, and always be sure to check your blood sugar levels before going to bed after a night of imbibing. 

 

Taking Medications as Prescribed

Finally, always take all medications as prescribed – whether you live with diabetes or not. Diabetes is a serious health concern that must be treated with care to avoid further complications. Therefore, always fill your prescriptions and take time to ask your local pharmacist about any concerns or questions you may have.

 

 

How a Pharmacist Can Help You Manage Type 2 Diabetes

Pharmacists are a wealth of knowledge for helping their patients learn about and adjust to living with type 2 diabetes. They are an integral part of both initial screening and lifelong management of the disease because they are often the most accessible and can interact with you or your loved one on a more regular basis.

 

A pharmacist near you can provide diabetic counselling, which can include:

  • Blood sugar testing and blood glucose meter training
  • Medication optimization for diabetes and other prescribed drugs
  • Education on what to do if you experience low blood sugar
  • Diet and exercise counselling
  • Instruction for administering insulin

 

With all that, your local pharmacist has to offer, be sure to utilize them as a resource when you are first diagnosed and as you get more comfortable with your new lifestyle.

 

 

Conclusion

While a type 2 diabetes diagnosis can be very scary at first, many people with the disease lead incredibly fulfilling lives. This is because type 2 diabetes can be managed with lifestyle adjustments, weight management, stress reduction, and medications. When treated adequately and consistently, diabetes-related health concerns can be avoided, reduced, or delayed.

 

When left untreated, diabetes can impact eyesight, damage organs, and lead to nerve and sexual health issues. Therefore, it is critical to diagnose diabetes as early as possible and stick to your prescribed treatment plan.

 

As pharmacists are often one of the most accessible health professionals in many communities, they play a significant role in identifying risk factors for diabetes, encouraging higher-risk patients to get screened, and helping with the management of the disease.

 

If you would like support for managing your type 2 diabetes, remember that there is an incredible community ready to support you. You are not alone, and you do not need to navigate your health journey by yourself.

 

 

Talk to Cook’s Pharmacy About Diabetic Counselling

At Cook’s Pharmacy, our knowledgeable and compassionate pharmacists provide diabetic counselling to many people who have recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Our teams also offer ongoing support to those who have lived with diabetes for years but who may be struggling to manage their diabetic health concerns on their own.

 

If you feel like you or a loved one require support for keeping type 2 diabetes under control, Cook’s Pharmacy is here to help! From testing your blood glucose to optimizing your medications to talking about diet and exercise adjustments, our pharmacists are a wealth of knowledge.

 

Reach out to us or stop by any of our convenient pharmacies in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, New Hamburg, or Wellesley to learn more about our diabetic counselling services.

 

 

 

 

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Poshin Jobanputra
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February 15, 2024
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