December 2, 2022
How 7 People With Diabetes Manage Their Blood Sugar?

How 7 People With Diabetes Manage Their Blood Sugar?

How 7 People With Diabetes Manage Their Blood Sugar

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If only there existed a simple set of rules for managing blood sugar when you have Type 2 diabetes—it would be the most-requested pamphlet in a doctor’s office. Instead, as many people find, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for the millions of Americans with the condition. It takes time and effort to discover what works best, and the right combination will differ for everyone.

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Determining what type of medication and which lifestyle factors will be most effective for managing blood sugar could take years. One way to speed up the discovery? Learn from others who are living with the condition. Here, seven people with diabetes share the most important insights they’ve gleaned about managing their blood sugar on a day-to-day basis.

Pay close attention to food and medication effects

When Agnes Czuchlewski, 68, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes more than 20 years ago, her first thought was that she had to implement iron-clad restrictions on her eating and would never have a sugary treat again. That didn’t last long.

“You can become obsessed with what you ‘should’ be doing, but that’s exhausting,” she says. “Instead, it’s much better to educate yourself about how your choices affect you. For example, have that candy bar, but look at what happens to your blood sugar—how much it goes up and how quickly—when you do. Then you can implement controls based on what you need.”

Paying attention to how the medication affects you is also important. Czuchlewski’s initial medication lowered her blood sugar so dramatically that she became hypoglycemic at night, a dangerous situation in which blood sugar drops too low. At one point, she feared she wouldn’t wake up. Tracking the effect over several nights provided her with the data she needed for another conversation with her doctor, and for a medication switch.

“Learn about your body, and be more aware of how the medication is affecting your numbers, how each food choice is affecting you,” she says. “When I was diagnosed, four other people in my work group were diagnosed within six months of each other. Each one of us reacts to our meds and to different foods in unique ways. Don’t assume you’ll react a certain way just because someone else with diabetes does.”

Without truly observing how each affects your body in specific ways—a sudden wave of fatigue, for instance, or symptoms like increased thirst or weakness—it’s difficult to understand the subtle and overt ways that blood sugar may be affecting you overall. Taking time to slow down and build body awareness can go a long way toward managing blood sugar more effectively.

Read More: People With Diabetes Are More Vulnerable to Heart Disease. How to Reduce the Risk

Consider a continuous glucose monitor

Tim Jones, 56, has lived with Type 1 diabetes for 35 years—and the greatest lesson he’s learned is that blood-sugar regulation can change over time. It’s not just a matter of calculating how carbohydrates affect insulin, he says. All kinds of factors, including exercise and fat intake, create variations that need to be monitored, especially since they can change how much insulin Jones needs to take.

Switching from an insulin pump to a hybrid closed-loop artificial pancreas system with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) has been a game-changer. CGMs are small wearable devices that track blood-sugar levels throughout the day. Even though Jones still needs to count carbs and make adjustments for fat content, the continuous glucose monitor allows him to tighten control without worrying about his levels dropping too low.

“Diabetes is something I deal with every hour of every day. It’s relentless,” he says. “It’s nice to have a little something in my pocket that takes over some of the attention, especially when I’m sleeping. It’s a relief. I’ve never been in better control than I am right now, and I’m expecting technology to get better.”

Using a CGM may be particularly useful for those who have found traditional manual methods of monitoring blood sugar to be challenging. For example, Max Androsiuk, 34, tried managing his blood sugar for five years after his Type 1 diabetes diagnosis but found it so difficult that he had to quit playing basketball with his friends—a decision that crushed him.

“I just couldn’t get my blood sugar under control enough to play,” he recalls. “It was made worse by being nervous when I’d start to get active, which makes blood sugar increase.” Then, two years ago, he started wearing a CGM and can check his blood sugar level with a quick glance at an app on his smartphone. That gave him the confidence to return to the sport he loves. “I can easily control my blood sugar by applying measures I know will work if I see my numbers go up or down,” he says.

Establish a routine

With Type 2 diabetes, you’re not just managing blood sugar: you’re also dealing with potential overwhelm, says Emilee Harringshaw, 28. Factors like food, sleep, stress, work, exercise, and medication can feel like a juggling act. Just getting a high reading might send her into a tailspin: Should she go for a walk or a run? Drink some water? Contact her doctor? What helps keep her steady is having a regular routine, so she can be less reactionary when fluctuations happen.

“My daily regimen is reliable yet modifiable,” Harringshaw says. It involves reviewing her blood sugar at specific times, being mindful of the timing of her medications, focusing on stress-management practices, and doing food preparation in advance so she knows the carbs, protein, and fat content in each meal.

“Before I formed habits that made me more aware of managing blood sugar, I wasn’t able to identify trends, and that made me feel out of control,” she says. “Getting into a regular pattern of tracking, exercise, and preparation makes me feel physically and mentally better.”

That includes a solid sleep routine. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting less than seven hours of sleep per night can make diabetes harder to manage. Shorter sleep can also make you hungrier the next day and delay your fullness signals, increasing your risk of overeating—affecting your blood sugar along the way.

Keep a consistent exercise schedule

Jenny Lyn Belleza, 35, says getting enough physical activity is a cornerstone of how she manages her Type 2 diabetes.

“A big part of managing blood sugar is exercising regularly, and I try to stay on top of my fitness by going to the gym a few times a week and doing some sort of cardio or strength training,” she says. “I’ve found this helps keep my blood sugar in check and prevents any spikes or dips throughout the day.”

According to the CDC, being active makes the body more sensitive to insulin, and not only helps control blood sugar but also lowers the risk of heart disease and nerve damage related to the condition. The American Diabetes Association adds that physical activity effects vary depending on how long you’re active and the intensity of your workout, but in general, exercise can lower blood sugar for 24 hours or more.

Because of that, it’s important to check in with your doctor or diabetes educator when putting together an exercise plan. If you’re taking insulin, for example, you may need to adjust the dose before exercise to lower your risk of hypoglycemia. Much like tracking how food affects your blood sugar hour by hour, keep on top of blood-sugar changes before, during, and after activity to understand how working out is affecting you.

Work with a care team

For years, Melissa Almeida, 48, managed her Type 2 diabetes by herself, but struggled with nearly every aspect, from medication timing to food choices—in part because she was just a teenager when she was first diagnosed.

“I felt overwhelmed, and as a result, I was only taking one of three prescribed medications,” she says. “I wasn’t able to maintain a steady level of energy and it affected every aspect of my life, including being able to work. By the time I started taking enough medication, I was a full-time working mother and it was becoming increasingly difficult to find adequate time to manage my disease.”

Almeida turned to a diabetes care coach program from UMass Memorial Health, which helped her establish a plan to gradually improve her medication regimen. She also received counseling on the medications she was taking to learn how they affected her blood sugar and what side effects could occur. And she received detailed nutrition guidance that made a big difference in her blood sugar and energy levels.

“I felt like I was part of my own care team, helping to ensure my care plan and individual goals were being met,” she says. Plenty of research backs up this strategy. For example, a 2019 study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health looked at customized diabetes education programs and used CGMs to track results. Researchers found that those enrolled for just three months saw a significant difference in how well they managed their Type 2 diabetes.

Read More: The Link Between Type 2 Diabetes and Psychiatric Disorders

Keep mental health in mind

After 25 years as an endocrinology patient at Geisinger Health in Pennsylvania, Shivaun O’Donnell, 62, decided to get more involved not just with her own care, but with other patients and became a diabetes educator for the health system 10 years ago. Along the way, she’s learned a wide array of strategies for blood sugar management, and one she’s found personally meaningful is focusing on emotional well-being.

“This condition can come with depression and, honestly, life-stopping anxiety,” she says. For example, Stanford Medicine research found in 2021 that insulin resistance can double the risk for major depression, and bring symptoms like fatigue, sleep disturbance, and loss of appetite—all of which can impact blood-sugar regulation. As few as 25% of people with diabetes who have depression get diagnosed, according to the CDC.

“A large part of diabetes management is mental,” says O’Donnell. “You can do everything right, but if you’re feeling anxious or defeated, that might end up sabotaging your efforts.” That’s why it’s important to focus on tactics that will boost your brain as well as your body, such as getting adequate sleep, exercising, staying on top of medications and appointments, and making time for activities you find fun. “This isn’t just about your blood sugar,” O’Donnell says. “It’s about learning to love your life.”

 

‘Electroacupuncture’ Helps People With Diabetes Reduce Blood Sugar Level, New Study Says

Type 2 diabetes can be hard to deal with as it requires massive lifestyle changes. The main way to leave the disease in the dust is to lose weight and slash the number of sugary foods you eat. But fresh research suggests that alternative therapy could provide improvements to blood sugar levels too.

A study published in the Journal of Diabetes found that a type of therapy called electroacupuncture offered promising results for diabetics.

Electroacupuncture [EA] is a modern take on traditional acupuncture, using electricity to enhance the experience.

In acupuncture, small needles are inserted into the body to stimulate nerves in the skin and muscles. The NHS explains that “this results in the body producing natural substances, such as pain-relieving endorphins”.

But in EA, electrodes are attached to the needles. A bit of electricity is sent through the electrode to make the needles vibrate.

The study concluded that EA was able to lower blood sugar levels by reducing the amount of inflammation in the gut by adjusting the levels of gut bacteria.

The researchers gave EA to mice with diabetes and found that the treatment “promoted” the movement of food through the intestines, known as intestinal motility. It did this by increasing the activity of specific cells called Interstitial Cells of Cajal that control the movement of intestinal muscle tissue.

According to the Pierson Center: “When gut motility is slow bacteria and yeast can’t be cleared properly and get backed up in the small intestines.”

The study found that the increased gut motility was able to “regulate” gut bacteria known as intestinal flora. The changes in these bacteria are believed to have contributed to lower levels of inflammation, which is linked to the onset of type 2 diabetes.

The study stated: “In our study, the EA could increase the flora diversity of diabetic mice, and the EA restored the microbial community structure in diabetic mice.”

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Researchers have found that this damage can affect the work of the hormone insulin, which is responsible for moving sugar out of your blood.

When your body becomes resistant to the work of insulin, blood sugar levels start to shoot up.

As well as receiving EA, there are other ways that you can reduce inflammation and improve your diabetes.

Diabetes Voice reported that the following foods may help to manage inflammation:

  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Fatty fish
  • Avocados
  • Grapes
  • Tomatoes

How else can you reduce your blood sugar levels?

The NHS advises people to avoid eating too much sugary or starchy foods, as these directly hike up your blood sugar levels.

The health body also recommends taking any medication, such as metformin, that is prescribed.

It also suggests the following:

New Type 2 Diabetes Medicine: Mounjaro

TWIN TIERS, N.Y. (WENY) — Mounjaro, also known as Tirzepatide, is a new Type 2 Diabetes treatment, approved by the FDA nearly five months ago. This medication is showing favorable results by decreasing glucose levels, according to Dr. Ahmet Can, an endocrinologist at the Arnot Ogden Medical Center.

Dr. Can says Mounjaro helps the pancreas secrete its own insulin in diabetes patients. With this new medicine, patients can manage their diabetes in a better way, according to Dr. Can. Mounjaro also decreases hemoglobin C1 levels in patients as well, according to the U.S Food and Drug Administration.

Through trials, Dr. Can added, this Mounjaro also drops blood sugar levels within three months. This new medicine has changed the medical world’s approach to diabetes with staggering results. Dr. Can said there is another new-found benefit to this medication: weight loss.

“The most spectacular thing about this medication is the degree of weight loss,” he said. “They lost about, like, 70 to 80 pounds…Which is a lot but their starting weight was much higher.”

Dr. Can said, through trial results, patients lose 27 pounds on average within the first few months of using Mounjaro. Some people lose 40 to 50 pounds; other times, people can lose 70 to 80 pounds.

Dr. Can said it takes about a month for patients to see results in regard to weight loss. He added, although this is an exciting effect of the new medicine, Type 2 Diabetes patients should prioritize a healthy diet and daily exercise, as well.

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