Diabetes and weight loss: They're the yin and yang of optimal health.
There's no question about it: If you're overweight and have type 2
diabetes, dropping pounds lowers your blood sugar, improves your health,
and helps you feel better.
But before you start a weight
loss plan, it's important to work closely with your doctor or diabetes
educator. That's because while you're dieting, your blood sugar, insulin, and
medications need special attention.
Don White, 68, a retired science teacher from upstate New York, first
suspected he had type 2 diabetes when he was 45
years old and his school held a health fair for students and teachers. A simple
prick of his finger to test for high blood sugar -- a sign of diabetes -- revealed some
"My numbers were way above normal," says White. "In a matter of
days, and a couple of doctor's appointments later, I found out I had type 2
White and his family were surprised by...
"No matter how heavy you are, you will significantly lower your blood sugar
if you lose some weight," says Cathy Nonas, MS, RD, a spokeswoman for the
American Dietetic Association and a professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine
in New York.
A 2001 National Institutes of Health study found that a combination of diet
and exercise cuts the risk of developing diabetes by 58%. The study involved
people who were overweight (with an average body
mass index of 34) and who had high -- but not yet diabetic -- blood sugar
"We know it's true -- that if someone with diabetes loses 5% to 10% of their
weight, they will significantly reduce their blood sugar," Nonas tells
"We see it all the time: people can get off their insulin and their
medication," she says. "It's wonderful. It shows you how interwoven obesity and
Even losing 10 or 15 pounds has health benefits, says the American Diabetes
Association. It can:
Lighten the stress on hips, knees, ankles and feet.
Plus, you'll probably have more energy, get around easier, and breathe
Diabetes, Weight Loss, and Changes in Blood Sugar
Cutting back on just one meal can affect the delicate balance of blood
sugar, insulin, and medication in your body. So it's important to work with an
expert when you diet.
Check with your doctor before starting a weight loss plan, then consult with
a diabetes educator or nutritionist, advises Larry C. Deeb, MD, a diabetes
specialist in Tallahassee, Fla., and
past president of the American Diabetes Association.
"Don't try to lose weight on your own," says Deeb. "With a doctor and a good
nutritionist, it's very safe to do. This is very important if you're taking
insulin or medications.
The Right Balance for Diabetes and Weight Loss
Christine Gerbstadt, MD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic
Association, warns: "You don't want to run the risk of high or low blood sugar
while you're dieting. You want tight glucose control while you lose
Gerbstadt suggests cutting 500 calories a day, "which is safe for someone
with diabetes," she says. "Cut calories across the board -- from protein,
carbohydrates, and fat -- that's the best way." She recommends that people with
diabetes maintain a healthy ratio of carbs, fat, and protein. The ideal:
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Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
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