As of today, there is no medicine that can cure type 2 diabetes. However, it is possible to control this condition and minimize its influence on the life of the patient. The main goals in treating diabetes include maintaining a normal and productive life of the patient; normalization of the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins; prevention of hypoglycemic reactions associated with low levels of blood glucose as well as diabetic complications; psychological adaptation to living with the condition. To achieve these goals, the following principles should be followed:
- Healthy dieting
- Adequate exercising
- Blood glucose monitoring
- Using diabetic medications if required
Despite the popular belief, there is no such thing as diet for diabetics that can fit everyone. However, for every diabetic patient it is important to eat foods high in fiber and low in fat (fruits, vegetables, whole grains) and give up fatty foods rich in sodium, sweets and refined carbohydrates. In overweight and obese diabetic patients weight loss is the primary goal of dieting and it can be achieved by a well-balanced and low-calorie diet. Eating low-glycemic foods can help to control diabetes and prevent jumps in blood sugar as well.
Adequate physical activity is beneficial for everyone, and diabetic patients are not an exception since exercise helps to lower blood sugar level and increases sensitivity to insulin. Physical activity should be made a part of the daily routine – at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (swimming, jogging, walking or cycling) will do the job. However, it is important to check blood sugar level before a workout and have a snack if the level is too low.
Medications for type 2 diabetes
The main role of medications in diabetes therapy is to lower the level of blood glucose. Medications should always be supported with dietary changes and regular exercise. In addition, each form of medications has certain adverse reactions; therefore, their use should be controlled by a healthcare professional. There are two main forms of diabetic medications:
- Injectable medications. These are incretin mimetics (they stimulate the release of insulin by the pancreas and help to slow the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream) and insulin.
- Oral medications. Some of them stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin (sulfonylureas and meglitinides); others help insulin to work better by lowering insulin resistance (thiazolidinediones, metformin).