Diabetes is a metabolic disease which is diagnosed when there is too much glucose in the blood due to decreased insulin usage or production. There are three types of Diabetes, Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational.
Type 1 Diabetes is when the body’s ability to produce insulin is compromised and the immune system destroys the insulin. With the significant reduction in insulin, the body’s ability to remove glucose from the blood is poor. Not only does the glucose stay in the blood instead of being converted to energy, but it also can lead to damage of other organs such as the kidneys, heart and eyes. Type 1 Diabetics require daily injections to control their glucose levels.
Type 2 Diabetes is the more common form affecting 85%+ of all people diagnosed with Diabetes. With an increase in sedentary lifestyle, there has been an increase in younger people and children being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. The difference between Type 2 and Type 1 is that in Type 2, the pancreas still produces the insulin but the body’s cells do not respond appropriately and, as like in Type 1, the glucose stays in the blood and can lead to the same complications. Type 2 Diabetes management initially involves medical management but can be reversed through lifestyle modifications such as Diet and Exercise.
Gestational Diabetes occurs in pregnant women and is tested between 24-28 weeks. Essentially, a positive diagnosed when their glucose levels are too high when fasted or too high after consuming a sugary drink, which is one of the tests. During pregnancy, the placenta releases hormones which reduces insulin sensitivity and Gestational Diabetes occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to remove the glucose from the blood.
So how do lifestyle modifications effectively change or reverse Diabetes?
For Type 1, exercise cannot reverse the damage done to the pancreas, however, it can improve the way muscles respond to insulin and reduce glucose in the blood. It actually allows muscles to uptake glucose without the need of insulin.
For Type 2 and Gestational, exercise has been proven to reduce glucose in the blood by simply increasing these transporter systems that don’t require insulin. This in turns, reduces complications that can occur. For all types of Diabetes, exercise has been shown to manage, prolong and sometimes eliminate complications that can occur .
Diet also plays an important role in Diabetes as it is one of the major factors leading to the diagnosis. If you are eating too much high sugar, high GI carbs, then you are increasing your risk for Diabetes. This is because these carbs are broken down easier and released into the blood faster, spiking the need for insulin which reduces sensitivity over time. So the easiest switch someone can do is to change to lower GI and higher fibre carbohydrates as these are released into the blood slowly, reducing the need for a high release of insulin.
It is important that when you see you GP that they explain as best they can the importance of lifestyle modifications. If you feel like you need more advice or guidance, you can see a Diabetes Educator to assist with measuring glucose levels and provide advice on how to best manage your disease. But to get optimal results and care, it is important for you to discuss with your GP to obtain a referral to see an Exercise Physiologist who can discuss the lifestyle modifications you can make in your life to reduce your glucose levels and help you manage independently, and in some cases no longer take medication. Further, you should have a yearly check up with a Podiatrist to ensure your feet are not affected by peripheral neuropathy. And if you feel that your diet is just too hard to control and need more guidance, than a referral to a Dietitian can also be obtained.
Under Medicare, if diagnosed with Diabetes, you have access to 5 subsidised appointments per year with a valid referral from your GP. For Type 2 Diabetics, they also have the ability to obtain a referral for group exercise classes with an Exercise Physiologist for 8 sessions plus an initial assessment.
Platinum Physiotherapy offers BULK BILLED appointments for patients with Diabetes with a valid referral from their GP. So book in to see our Exercise Physiologist who has expertise in the area.