Diabetes and Lifestyle Modification

Lifestyle and dietary modifications form the cornerstone of therapy in patients with diabetes.

Diabetes is a group of metabolic disorders that causes an elevation of blood sugar because of defects in insulin secretion, insulin action or both.  Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas to regulate and control the body’s blood  sugar level.   It unlocks the cells of the body so sugar (glucose) from the diet can enter the cells and use it as energy or store it as fuel.

There are two major types of diabetes, type1 and type 2.  Persons with type 1 diabetes have very little or no insulin which may be caused by genetics or an immune response triggered by a virus leading to the destruction of pancreatic cells which produce insulin.  These people have to inject insulin everyday in order to survive.

Those with type 2 diabetes may still have insulin but it may be deficient and / or the body cannot use it properly  (insulin resistance).  Unhealthy lifestyle such as physical inactivity or lack of exercise, poor  nutrition, and genetic factors may lead to this type of diabetes.

Experts from the Diabetes Center and Nutrition Management Services of The Medical City (TMC) recommend modest weight loss for people with diabetes as it may provide clinical benefits such as improved glycemic control, lower blood pressure and lipids. To achieve modest weight loss, intensive lifestyle interventions through counselling about nutrition and physical activity are advised.

For overweight or obese adults with type 2 diabetes or at risk for diabetes, reduce energy intake (total number of calories taken in daily) while maintaining a healthy eating pattern is recommended to promote weight loss.

Monitoring of carbohydrate intake remains a key strategy in achieving glycemic control. Glycemic controlis a medical term that refers to the typical levels of blood sugar or glucose in a person with diabetes.Carbohydrate intake from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and dairy products are recommended. It is also best to limit or avoid intake of sugar-sweetened beverages to reduce the risk of  weight gain.

As far as managing diabetes is concerned, the goal is to balance the insulin in your body and the exercise you do with the carbohydrates you eat. This will keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range.

Adults with diabetes are advised to perform at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise, spread over a minimum of three days in a week with no more than two consecutive days without exercise.

Persons with diabetes and their healthcare team should come up with a meal plan that includes general guidelines for carbohydrate intake. The meal plan will take into account the person’s age, size, weight goal, exercise level, medications, and other medical issues.

For more information, please call the TMC Diabetes Center at 9881000 ext. 6611.t. 6611.



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