I recently finished a series of blog posts called “Transforming Diabetes.” It focused mostly on Type 1 Diabetes and I want to now take some time and talk about Type 2.
Type 2 is a different disease than Type 1. The cause is different. The treatment is different. However, both are diagnosed from a high blood sugar result. When someone finds out that I am Type 1 I will often hear, “Oh, you have the bad one.” Neither are good. And Type 2 can be as bad or worse than Type 1. Whereas, Type 1 is caused by an immune deficiency response resulting in the destruction of the islet cells in the pancreas, Type 2 is caused by a change in the metabolic system functioning resulting in insulin resistance. Type 2’s are experiencing high blood sugar because their insulin is not working as well or their body is resisting the insulin that is produced. Type 2 has traditionally been diagnosed in adults over the age of 50. More and more we are seeing younger people developing Type 2 Diabetes. This is a result of the diet and lifestyle our culture has been engaged in for the last few decades.
The treatment for Type 2 is weight loss, exercise, low carb/fat diet, testing blood sugar and sometimes medication that increases the insulin efficiency or reduces the the insulin resistance. The treatment is not as difficult of a balancing act as Type 1 but it requires hard work. Most Type 2’s are over weight. So, the first order of business is to transform the body and get it into shape. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Type 2’s are unwilling to do this. They have established a certain way of being and eating and to make a change is like turning a cruise ship around. There is a lot of resistance. Nevertheless, upon diagnosis of Type 2 I have seen several people effectively cure themselves by changing their approach to working out and their diet. The “dis-ease” goes away and every facet of life becomes better. In my opinion, this is the key to both Type 1 and Type 2. It is all about the workout.
If I was diagnosed with Type 2 the first thing I would do is make my workouts the priority. And I don’t mean a casual 1 mile walk. I am talking about pushing it to your edge and expanding that. Start by walking 1 mile if you have to. Time your walk. Do it every day. Try to beat your time each day. Expand your walk to 2, 3,4 , 5 miles. Walk hard. Get to the point where you are jogging if your legs are capable of that. Go to the gym or get weights. You must build your strength. The workout is the first and most important step in dealing with your condition. If you are unable to exercise because of a physical condition then read on. You may be able to pick up a few things that may assist you. If you are unwilling to workout then stop reading this post. I can be of no help.
Either way, if you don’t make the workout a priority and get yourself to a weight that is below 15 lbs over what you should be then your disease will progress. You can take the medication and that will help but you probably won’t be motivated to check your blood sugar as much as you must to achieve balanced blood sugars. Your metabolic system will continue to become more inefficient. It is the nature of things. Time to get in shape. Do whatever it takes to get there. The rewards are beyond your imagination.
Most Type 2’s I know either test once or twice a day or not at all. They just rely on the A1C they get from the doctor. In my opinion, this is a big mistake. In fact, I believe that Type 2’s must test as much as a Type 1. You must know what your blood sugar is doing throughout the day and in response to the food you eat and the exercise you engage in. Test in the morning when you wake up. It is the first thing you should do every day. Test before every meal. Test 2 hours and 4 hours after a meal. Test before going to bed. Test in the middle of the night. As a Type 1 I can give myself insulin to make a correction at any given time. I give myself a bolus of insulin to “cover” meals. If you are on medication you are on a much more static kind of “dose.” You can’t make corrections or give yourself a bolus. You can take more of the pill you are taking the next day and see what happens. Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM’s) were recently invented and provide a blood sugar result every 5 minutes. If I was Type 2 I would get a CGM and use it initially and periodically as needed. I think CGM’s are more appropriate for Type 2 then for Type 1 as they currently are. It requires that you inject a port with a receiver and carry a monitor with you. The port is changed every 3-7 days. It is important to see your trends and the CGM offers this information.
Your diet should be stricter than a Type 1. Because you are on a more static medication protocol, diet is more of a factor for you. Also, you are probably needing to shed a few pounds so diet is important for that reason as well. Eliminate sugar, flour, high carb foods and foods that are high in fat. You must apply restriction to what you eat. Sorry, that is just the way it is. If you do some hard work up front and get to your ideal weight you may be able to reverse the disease completely and be able to eat some of these things then. Oh, and you won’t have to test anymore.
Type 2 can be worse than Type 1 in the fast progression of complications. You have probably been battling with insulin resistance far before a diagnosis. So, your body has already been under the stress of high blood sugar. You are probably older and may have other medical conditions you are dealing with like high blood pressure. If you are unable to address the condition of high blood sugar then you run the risk of developing complications like tingling in the feet or hands, eye problems, kidney problems or heart disease. The combination of working out hard and a good diet will be of tremendous benefit in quelling or reversing these symptoms.
The key to dealing with Type 2 Diabetes is to transform your metabolic functioning. Exercise and diet will begin this process and that may be all you need. Other modalities include acupuncture, cranio sacral therapy, vitamins, supplements, herbs, meditation, etc. I have used all of these and more and can assist anyone who is committed to or willing to engage.
Type 2 is reversible. Type 1 isn’t believed to be. You can cure yourself. It requires hard work. It requires nothing less than a transformation of your body, mind and spirit. Not an easy task. Yet it may be the primary purpose of why we are here.