If you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you’re not alone. Each year, 1.5 million people in the United States develop the disease. For every one of them, the diagnosis can feel overwhelming. The good news? You have lots of support and help right here in Monterey County to keep it under control.
What is type 2 diabetes?
Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes means your body makes insulin but doesn’t use it well. Insulin is the hormone produced by your pancreas that turns blood sugar, or glucose, into energy for your cells to use. A blood test, called the A1C or hemoglobin A1C, is used as a measure of your glucose over the last two to three months. A normal value is less than 5.7%. If the A1C test is more than 6.4%, you have diabetes.
How type 2 diabetes is treated
Treatment for type 2 diabetes is designed to lower the glucose circulating in your blood and keep your blood sugar levels within a safe range. This can be done through diet, physical activity and, for some people, with the addition of medicine.
Metformin is the most commonly prescribed medicine for people with type 2 diabetes. It works by improving your body’s sensitivity to insulin to use it more effectively. Some people with type 2 diabetes may also require insulin therapy, which is injected daily with a pen, syringe, or pump. The use of insulin is not a failure. Remember, the goal in diabetes is not to stay off medication. The goal is to live a life free from the complications of diabetes. Some people may need medication, including insulin, to accomplish this goal.
Other people can keep their blood sugar at a safe level through diet and exercise, the two most powerful weapons we have to fight The Beast. Just a few simple changes in your daily routine can make all the difference. A good first step is to learn about why some foods are healthy and others are not. Then you can substitute healthy ingredients for less healthy to keep enjoying many of your favorite foods.
Becoming more physically active can be as easy as walking 20 to 30 minutes a day. Research has shown daily walks, especially after mealtime, can lower A1C levels, reduce the need for medications and reduce stress. Walking as little as one mile a day makes a difference.
Everybody is different
Keeping type 2 diabetes under control means learning how your body responds to food and activity — and everyone is different. If you’re newly diagnosed, it can take a little while to figure out what works best for you. Checking your blood sugar levels after eating different foods or doing exercise will help you find out what raises and lowers your blood sugar. As you learn more, be sure to eat a variety of food (not too much and not too much of one type), space meals evenly throughout day, and don’t skip meals.
In it together
Learning to manage your type 2 diabetes is a lot easier when you’ve got the support of friends and family. Eating right and taking a daily walk are great ways to spend time together, as well as being healthy. And if you need support and information, you’re not alone. With resources and support for you to learn more and stay on track, you can always reach out for the help you need to manage your type 2 diabetes. And you can even help others. Don’t Feed the Diabetes is a grassroots movement to kick The Beast out of Monterey County. Join the effort by forming walking groups with your neighbors, buying and serving healthy food, and encouraging others to make the small changes that make a big difference.