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Diabetes Treatment Should Focus on Metabolizing More of the Sugar in the Blood for Best Results

For a very large percentage of people with Type 2 diabetes, exercise is the most important thing they can do to manage their diabetes, followed closely by being more careful with what they eat.
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Would you be interested in modifying the way you treat your Type 2 diabetes and try a different approach, at least for a while to see if it works for you? I am talking about people who are really tired and feel burned out from always having to watch everything they eat and counting every little carb no matter how insignificant it may seem. I am talking about people who are not eating that much as it is but are still having a hard time keeping their blood sugar under good control.

If you happen to fall into one or both of those categories, I suggest you read on and give some careful consideration to what I am going to suggest.

Many years ago the standard treatment for Type 2 diabetes was to follow a low-carb diet, recommending to patients that they eat as little sugar as possible and take their medication as prescribed by their doctor. They were also encouraged to get some exercise if possible and to reduce their level of stress. Exercise was thought to be beneficial for someone with diabetes, and stress was known to elevate blood sugar levels.

The wisdom behind this seemed logical at the time and was based on the following reasoning. Since people with Type 2 diabetes tend to accumulate sugar in their blood due to their inability to efficiently remove sugar from the blood, then drastically limiting the amount of sugar that enters the blood should help maintain blood sugar levels at a more normal level. This approach appeared to produce good results and was adopted as pretty much the standard treatment for Type 2 diabetes at the time.

Then a growing body of evidence began to support the idea that there was more to treating Type 2 diabetes than simply watching your carb intake and taking your medicine on time -- that making another major lifestyle change could have a tremendously positive impact on blood glucose control.

As a result, some doctors and some diabetes educators (the emphasis on some is intentional) began to recommend to their patients with Type 2 diabetes that they become more active. There were reasons to believe that being more physical and leading a more active lifestyle was beneficial in helping people with Type 2 diabetes maintain better blood sugar levels and reduce the risks of diabetes related complications. Although doctors and diabetes educators both encouraged the people they treated with Type 2 diabetes to be more physically active (usually being careful not to use the word exercise for fear they may scare off their patients) often times their suggestion was over shadowed by questions and conversation about food choices (what can I eat, is this food OK to eat, etc.).

Focus On Metabolizing More Of The Sugar

Even though efforts have been made to get people with Type 2 diabetes up and moving more in recent years, the major focus still continues to be encouraging them to eat less carbs -- or in other words, since you have a hard time getting sugar out of your blood, let's work on putting less sugar in your blood so you have less to worry about getting back out.

Consider this. You go to take a shower. In the middle of your bathing you notice the water is not running out of the shower as fast as it used to. The next week you notice water is starting to collect around your feet and when you turn the knob and increase the amount of water that comes out of the shower head, the water level starts to rise. Everyone else in the house has long hair -- except for you. Pretty soon, as you stand there with water now up to your ankles you guess that the drain has gotten clogged up with hair. So now, water that enters the shower can't get out of the shower at the same rate at which it enters and it accumulates in the floor of the shower.

So what do you do? Quit taking showers? No, that's a bad idea. As the drain gets more and more clogged, should you gradually use less and less water when you shower to keep the amount of water in the shower floor from climbing too high? Yet another bad idea. Or, do you unclog the drain so the water can run out of the shower at the same rate it enters the shower through the shower head? Now there's an idea! I bet you had already thought of that.

Applying this reasoning to diabetes, when sugar enters the blood it has a hard time getting out just like when you have a partially clogged drain. What if we could figure out a way to get sugar to leave the blood at the same rate at which it enters (or as close as possible)? That way the sugar wouldn't accumulate in the blood and blood sugar levels would remain closer to normal more of the time.

Let's focus a great deal more on getting the sugar out of the blood faster and easier, as well as somewhat reducing the carb or sugar intake. Performing regular exercise will have a huge impact on this. Yes, I did say huge. Get exercise, or more of it, and you improve your ability to get more sugar out of your blood and faster and easier.

Let me explain. Insulin, which is made in the beta cells of the pancreas, in response to sugar entering the blood, enters the blood and looks for a sugar molecule to grab a hold of. Once an insulin grabs a sugar molecule, it then takes it to a muscle, fat, or liver cell. Once there, the insulin is supposed to find a door to the cell, open it, and escort the sugar into the cell.
In the case of Type 2 diabetes, when there is insulin resistance, which there almost always is, the doors to the cells do not open as easily as they are supposed to. This is what we refer to in my office as "Rusty Hinges." This makes it much harder to get the sugar out of the blood and into the cells throughout the body.

For the person with Type 2 diabetes, every time they engage in exercise, in a sense, it's as if they are getting the rust sanded off of their hinges and having them sprayed with WD-40. Exercise directly deals with the root of the problem -- insulin resistance -- like no other treatment. Exercise facilitates like nothing else getting sugar out of the blood.

For a very large percentage of people with Type 2 diabetes, exercise is the most important thing they can do to manage their diabetes, followed closely by being more careful with what they eat. I do want to make it clear that when I recommend exercise to a patient, it is first and foremost to help in reducing insulin resistance -- that is, to help clear excess sugar from the blood. Secondarily, it is to assist a patient in their weight loss efforts.

So, in summary, I would like to see you discuss this with your doctor, and if OK with him or her you give the exercise a good honest try for a month or two. Usually performing 30 of minutes of exercise, five to six days a week, at a moderate but comfortable pace, regularly, should do you a world of good. Performing up to 250 minutes per week is further recommended for those trying to lose some weight.

For more by Milt Bedingfield, click here.

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