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Have you just been diagnosed with diabetes? Here's some practical advice.

Finding out that you have type 2 diabetes can be quite daunting. Apart from the anxiety that comes with the realisation that you are now ‘officially’ sick there is a lot of information to take on as well as coming to terms with the fact that life (as you know it) has to change if you want to have a chance in hell in defeating this devil and regaining your health.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin to function properly, or the body’s cells don't react to insulin. This means that glucose stays in the blood and isn't used as fuel for energy. So basically the problem is that blood sugar level becomes too high. Type 2 diabetes is often associated with diabesity and tends to be diagnosed in older people. The good news is that having type 2 diabetes does not necessarily have to mean that the risks that are associated with it (kidney failure, lower limb amputation, blindness and other complications) are guaranteed. The risk factor can be substantially decreased with proper care and lifestyle changes. The bottom line is that not only can you partially reverse your diabetes but you can also cure it if you make the lifestyle required lifestyle adjustments. Admittedly this is not an easy task, but what like almost everything else good in our live, it requires a serious and sustainable investment.

So here’s some practical advice on how to get it done…

You are not alone

The entrance of diabetes into your life requires focusing and many adjustments. This is hardly ever

an easy job. Often it is accompanied by fears and questions that arise such as: ‘is my condition really bad?’, ‘am I going to die of it?’, ‘what’s going to happen?’, etc. However, it is very important to realise that you are not alone! There are support groups for diabetics, seminars, plenty (and sometimes confusing) information on the internet and of course professional advice from your doctor or nutritionist. Therefore, with the correct treatment and lifestyle adjustments to your daily life, you can retain your quality of life and live a long and healthy life. The most important thing is not to become trapped in doubt. Professional help is available for all your questions.

Customised and individual treatment is essential

Since having routine is very important for every individual and the success of the treatment, your medical team is likely to be aware of how important it is to individually adjust the treatment and new lifestyle changes to each individual patient. To that end, you should actively contribute to your treatment plan by sharing information about your current lifestyle and practicalities with your medical team to ensure effective and sustainable management of your condition.

The diet for you

When we say ‘diet’ we nearly almost always automatically think about losing weight. However ‘diet’ doesn’t necessarily have to mean that when you have diabetes. What and when you should eat has

a different relevance in respect of each individual patient.

Food is an integral part of every diabetic and is a major factor in balancing blood sugar levels throughout the day. Therefore it is essential to customise a diet that is right for you and it is very important to be in constant contact with your nutritionist because often certain ingredients in your daily diet need to be adjusted because they might cause an imbalance. Having the right diet prescribed to you is paramount in assisting you reach your treatment objectives.

Supportive physical activity

We always say that being fit is good for our health. For a diabetic, physical activity is an integral part of a successful treatment. Aerobic activity helps develop your cardiovascular system which in turn helps reduce any future associated risks.

In addition, the benefit of maintaining a correct diet (with or without medication) is increased when combined with physical exercise. As a bonus, you will have better quality of life because stress relief and getting into shape have many advantages for everyday life. I would like to point out that here too having a routine is very important. That does not mean that you have to do boot camp. 20 minutes of daily activity or 40 minutes 3 or 4 times a week should be sufficient.

New approaches to treatment

New approaches to treating type 2 diabetes have been developed over the last few years and progress is made all the time that take into account that type 2 diabetes is a multi system disease that affects and is affected by several systems in our body and creates health problems such as excess weight, hypertension and an increase of lipids (fat) level in our blood. Fortunately, there are several types of treatment which are available today that take a broad and integrative approach to treating and managing this disease.

The latest approaches to reducing blood sugar levels combine treatments which are meant to assist in reducing weight as well as balancing blood pressure and lipids. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle (and sometimes also taking personalised medication) can delay and sometimes prevent the disease from escalating and would give you better quality of daily life.

Injections don’t have to be painful

Medication for type 2 diabetes can be taken orally (pills) or by injections. Injectable treatments

does not necessarily mean insulin but can also mean other treatment types adjusted for the convenience of each individual patient and reduction of the needle-stick pain. If needles makes you anxious or you are having a problem with needle-stick pain you should consult your medical team who will assist you by demonstrations and will be happy to give you tips on how to make the experience more tolerable. Additional information is available here.

Planning a holiday locally or abroad?

As part of the new mind-set you need to adopt once you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you should plan your forthcoming holidays whilst taking your medical condition into account. Together with your prescriptions and medication, you should also ensure you have all the necessary paraphernalia. When booking your travel, you should also ensure that you can lift your feet from time to time and that you will be able to eat the food your nutritionist recommended. I also recommend that if you’re flying or travelling by coach of by train that you walk up and down the aisles for 20 minutes to ensure blood circulation.

As always, if you have any questions or you require any clarifications, please don’t hesitate to contact me. And if you find this information useful please share it or forward it to someone who is likely to benefit from it.

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