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davidtrump

Diabetes Medications and Diet: Synergistic Success 2

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Lose the Weight, Take Less Diabetes Medication

Lifestyle is key to keeping weight off -- and to controlling diabetes in the long run. "There's no way around it, and it's hard work, but you have to address it. You don't have to get skinny, but you do have to lose weight," says Anding.

In fact, research shows that losing just 10% to 15% of body weight -- dropping 20 or 30 pounds, if you weigh 200 -- can have a marked improvement on diabetes control.

These lifestyle changes help preserve the body's insulin-producing function, explains Hermes Florez, MD, director of the Diabetes Prevention Program at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "With weight loss, patients are able to nearly get off insulin. Some patients are able to come off insulin completely."

An NIH-funded clinical trial, the Diabetes Prevention Program, helped show the positive effects of healthy lifestyle changes. A significant number of patients in the study were able to reduce their diabetes risk with a healthy diet and regular exercise like brisk walking -- about 150 minutes a week.

In the early stages of diabetes, weight loss can also help reduce the dosage of diabetes medications you're taking, Peters tells WebMD. "I can't guarantee you will get completely off pills if you lose weight. But it's likely you will need less medicine. It depends on where you are in the disease process, because diabetes gets worse over the years."

Diabetes Diet and Insulin: Better Mealtime Control

Sticking with your diabetes diet makes it easier to calculate mealtime insulin. With new forms of insulin -- including small "pens" to give injections -- even taking your insulin is hassle-free. If you're out with friends, no one needs to know you're doing it.

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 Insulin: Better Mealtime Control

Sticking with your diabetes diet makes it easier to calculate mealtime insulin. With new forms of insulin -- including small "pens" to give injections -- even taking your insulin is hassle-free. If you're out with friends, no one needs to know you're doing it

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.

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.

Watch portions: Your meal plan is your guide. Excess calories only cause trouble -- blood sugar spikes and weight gain. Stop eating so much!

Exercise: Get your feet checked by a doctor, to ensure that you don't have injuries or signs of infection. People with diabetes are prone to foot problems caused by nerve damage, which can become very serious. Then get walking -- 20 to 40 minutes a day. Walk briskly to get maximum benefit!

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