While some people attempt to manage their type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise alone, this may not work for everyone. In fact, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 16 percent of people with diabetes don't take medication, the majority of people with diabetes require insulin or oral meds at some point, often at diagnosis.
After Jitahadi spent a few weeks on medication, her vision cleared and she began to feel better. It didn't last long. "I hated metformin. I had all the colon and digestive issues on it," she says. "I never knew if I would be OK on it or if I'd be nauseous. I'd question whether I wanted to go out with my friends." When she asked for an alternative medication, her doctor said metformin was the best drug for the job, so Jitahadi stuck it out for a year. After that, she decided to make major lifestyle changes in hopes of quitting her medications.
Some easy-to-follow examples I often provide are adding chopped mixed vegetables to scrambled eggs and including fresh fruit on the side; preparing a green smoothie with low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, chopped fresh kale, and frozen fruit; preparing vegetarian jambalaya with brown rice; or choosing a hearty salad with mixed greens, nuts, beans, and light salad dressing from a salad bar. Food can be medicine and it can also be enjoyable!
The evidence is growing stronger that eating red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and processed red meat (bacon, hot dogs, deli meats) increases the risk of diabetes, even among people who consume only small amounts. The latest support comes from a “meta analysis,” or statistical summary, that combined findings from the long-running Nurses’ Health Study I and II and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study with those of six other long-term studies. The researchers looked at data from roughly 440,000 people, about 28,000 of whom developed diabetes during the course of the study. (43) They found that eating just one daily 3-ounce serving of red meat—say, a steak that’s about the size of a deck of cards—increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20 percent. Eating even smaller amounts of processed red meat each day—just two slices of bacon, one hot dog, or the like—increased diabetes risk by 51 percent.
When his doctor and dietitian urged him to make changes to improve his diabetes control, Phelps, then 57, took the challenge seriously. He weighed everything he ate to gauge portion size. And he went slow, knowing that abrupt changes to his diet had never worked in the past. Instead of giving up desserts, he focused on smaller quantities and better-quality foods.
The data on dairy products seems to vary. In a study of over 289,000 health professionals, Harvard researchers showed that consumption of yogurt, in contrast to other dairy products, was associated with a reduced risk for diabetes. In a pooled analysis of 17 studies about dairy products and diabetes risk, those who consumed more dairy products had a lower risk than those who consumed few dairy products, A Swedish study found that high-fat dairy products, but not low-fat dairy products, lowered the risk for type 2 diabetes.
By definition, diabetes is associated with a fasting blood sugar of greater than 126 mg/dl. There is another group that has been identified and referred to as having impaired fasting glucose or prediabetes. These people have a fasting blood sugar value of between 110-125mg/dl. The main concern with this group is that they have an increased potential to develop type 2 diabetes when compared to the normal population. The actual percent increase varies depending on ethnicity, weight, etc.; but it is significantly higher, regardless of absolute numbers. In addition, it is known that people with impaired fasting glucose also are at increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
The other form of diabetes tends to creep up on people, taking years to develop into full-blown diabetes. It begins when muscle and other cells stop responding to insulin’s open-up-for-glucose signal. The body responds by making more and more insulin, essentially trying to ram blood sugar into cells. Eventually, the insulin-making cells get exhausted and begin to fail. This is type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can lead to a number of complications such as kidney, nerve, and eye damage, as well as cardiovascular disease. It also means cells are not receiving the glucose they need for healthy functioning. A calculation called a HOMA Score (Homeostatic Model Assessment) can tell doctors the relative proportion of these factors for an individual with type 2 diabetes. Good glycemic control (that is, keeping sugar/carbohydrate intake low so blood sugar isn't high) can prevent long-term complications of type 2 diabetes. A diet for people with type 2 diabetes also is referred to as a diabetic diet for type 2 diabetes and medical nutrition therapy (MNT) for people with diabetes.