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Diabetes Medications and Diet: Synergistic Success

Help diabetes drugs do their job. A high-fiber diabetes diet and regular exercise are key.

Diabetes Diet and Insulin: Better Mealtime Control continued...

Today's very rapid-acting insulin can be given with a meal or immediately afterward. "You need to make sure you eat within 10 minutes of taking insulin. These insulins act very quickly, so if you don't eat right away you'll have a low blood sugar reaction. The insulin will start working before food is absorbed," Nathan explains.

Insulin pens are nothing like the needles and insulin vials used in the past. The pens are small, and operate like fountain pens with cartridges -- an easy way to give yourself an injection to keep blood sugar under control.

Insulin pumps are another advance -- delivering a constant, computerized trickle of rapid-acting insulin into your bloodstream. At mealtime, you calculate the extra insulin dose you need to match carbs in the meal.

"A patient with an insulin pump often ends up needing less insulin overall," Peters tells WebMD. "It allows us to fine-tune insulin doses, so there's more flexibility and success in general. But to do it right, the patient needs a dietitian and diabetes educator. It takes a lot of education."

Diabetes Diet and Exercise Basics

Be sure to tell your doctor if you're starting a diet and exercise plan. "We can adjust insulin doses for your exercise," Peters tells WebMD. "Let's say you get an insulin shot beforebreakfast, but you're going to start exercising afterbreakfast. I might have you take half the dose before breakfast, so you're not too low while you exercise."

The mantra from diabetes experts:

Eat healthy: Get plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy.

Focus on fiber: Eat "real food," not processed food. Spinach, broccoli, and other colorful veggies should be staples. Feast on berries -- they're highly nutritious, high-fiber, and won't really affect your blood sugar despite their sweetness. Choose brown rice, whole-wheat tortillas, whole-grain bread, oatmeal. If you buy canned fruits or veggies, read labels closely to make sure there's no added sodium or sugar.

Curb the sweets: Ice cream, cookies, candy, and cake should be special-occasion treats only. They contain too much fat, sugar and calories. If you indulge, make sure you keep track in your total carb count.

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