Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce enough insulin, causing blood glucose levels to fluctuate. But the imbalance can be remedied without having to take drastic measures. Medication is not the first port of call: you just need to think about your lifestyle. A balanced, low calorie diet and regular exercise are effective natural remedies for managing blood glucose levels.
Type 2 diabetes is a diagnosis that is not easily digested. But it may reassure you to know that you're not alone. This form of diabetes, in which the body's cells do not respond to insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, is very common.
Around 320,000 people in Switzerland are living with diabetes. And it can be assumed that there are many more unreported cases. Type 2 diabetes, a chronic metabolic disease, is not (yet) curable, but fortunately it can be successfully treated. The aim with type 2 diabetes is to maintain the blood glucose levels at values as close to normal as possible and to prevent complications.
What should I do if I have type 2 diabetes?
In this new life situation, you will have to keep a close eye on additional risk factors, such as being overweight, hypertension and especially your blood lipid values. A poorly controlled blood sugar level also exacerbates this metabolic disorder. This increases the risk of arteriosclerosis, which can lead to blood vessel damage, eye disorders, kidney disorders, heart attack or stroke.
Diagnosis of type 2 diabetes: do you need medication?
A change of lifestyle with a healthy diet and a lot of exercise may be enough to stabilise the blood glucose level at normal values in type 2 diabetics. However, most diabetics require support in the form of medication.
Your GP will first prescribe oral antidiabetic drugs for you. These tablets influence blood glucose levels in various ways. However, some work only if the pancreas is still able to produce a certain amount of insulin. If this is no longer the case, and your blood glucose values remain high despite the medication, your doctor will change the treatment to insulin.
Measuring blood glucose levels
The switch to insulin means that you will have to measure your blood glucose level regularly. Reliable and handy test devices with test strips are available for this purpose. Your GP will tell you how often you should measure your blood glucose.
Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes: switch to a healthy diet now
In type 2 diabetes, a balanced low-calorie diet can help a lot. Vegetables, salads, fruit and whole-grain products should be at the top of your shopping list. Losing even a few excess pounds can help reduce your blood glucose level. Adapt the intervals between meals to your needs and changes in your blood glucose level. Distribute your carbohydrate requirement among several meals, and award yourself a glass of wine from time to time if your blood glucose measurement allows it. Smoking has a negative effect on diabetes.
Add more exercise to your life
Regular exercise is particularly important for people with type 2 diabetes. Physical activity helps to lose weight and reduce blood pressure. Exercise is an important element of your treatment for diabetes. Regular exercise also reduces fatty tissue in the body and builds up muscle. Muscles, in turn, can absorb glucose even without insulin.
Choose an activity you like and enjoy. It doesn't matter if you choose running, swimming or cycling. The important thing is that you exercise regularly. Ideally, you should combine endurance training with power training. You may find it easier to get the exercise you need by joining a group. Integrate exercise into your daily life, for example by climbing stairs instead of taking the lift, leaving the car at home more often or getting off the tram or bus a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way.
Discussing diabetes among family and friends
Talk with your family and friends about your feelings after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and explain to them why you have to alter your lifestyle. You'll be able to cope better with your new life situation with the support of those close to you.