You're coasting along, trying to "eat right," when suddenly you're confronted with a crisis -- sharing a very large pizza. It's so difficult turning away from pizza -- yet you face the inevitable blood sugar spike, with your diabetes drugs faltering under the carb load. If you're taking insulin, the mealtime dosage will need lots of attention.
Sometimes, living with diabetes can seem like a full-time job -- trying to keep up with everything you need to do for proper diabetes care.
"Diabetes is a very time-consuming disease to manage well," says Karmeen Kulkarni, MS, RD, CDE, and former president of health care and education for the American Diabetes Association. "The medication, the food, the physical activity -- you add life in general to that whole picture and it ends up being quite challenging."
There's also the weight gain issue: Too many calories pack on the pounds, which worsens blood sugar control.
It's serious business, keeping blood sugar and diabetes under control. There are too many health complications at stake to take it lightly. Over time, those blood sugar spikes take a toll on all your major organs and nerves throughout your body. It's nothing to take lightly. But good blood sugar control can prevent the worst complications of diabetes.
In recent years, new drugs that treat diabetes and various types of insulin have helped improve the management of diabetes and greatly improve blood sugar control. Some medication used to treat diabetes help drop weight and reduce blood cholesterol levels. But they can't do the work alone, diabetes experts say.
Lifestyle changes are essential -- a healthy diet, regular exercise, and weight loss -- in letting diabetes medications do their job, says David Nathan, MD, chief of the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
"If you have type 2 diabetes, your pancreas is still trying to release insulin," Nathan explains. "But if you have a rapid rise in blood sugar, it just can't keep up with the demand. With diabetes medicines, it's the same thing. They will work better if you don't challenge the pancreas -- if you don't have spikes in blood sugar."
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