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What is Diabetes and How Do I Manage It?

pink dumbells with green apple and diabetes monitor

Diabetes is a complex chronic condition, which describes the body’s inability to regulate normal blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels are externally influenced by our carbohydrate consumption and how much we exercise. The three most common forms of diabetes include type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. These forms vary in terms of their cause and how they work. However, all forms of diabetes have the same goal of optimising blood sugar levels and supporting good physical, mental and emotional health!

pink dumbells with green apple and diabetes monitor

So, what is diabetes? What are the common types?

  • Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition, which describes the pancreas’ inability to produce insulin. Insulin is responsible for absorbing glucose (sugar) into our body. Management involves optimal nutrition, exercise, lifelong use of insulin and potential use of other diabetes medication.
  • Type 2 diabetes is generally associated with poor lifestyle choices, for instance, a heavily processed diet and limited physical activity. Type 2 diabetes can be managed through diet and exercise alone, however, in some cases, insulin and other diabetes medication may be required.
  • Gestational diabetes is developed during pregnancy and is associated with hormonal changes. Management can include dietary changes, exercise and the use of diabetes-related medications.

How is diabetes managed through diet?

In terms of dietary management, we need to take a look at our carbohydrate intake. Specifically, the frequency, type and amount of carbohydrate we consume each day. Under the direction of a dietitian, a low carbohydrate, high protein diet is commonly utilised. This requires a comprehensive assessment of a client’s current eating habits, tailoring recommendations to support optimal blood sugar levels and education regarding label reading and carbohydrate counting.

doctor holding donut and green apple

How is diabetes managed through exercise?

Exercise has the power to improve insulin sensitivity, meaning the body is better able to absorb glucose from the food we eat. There’s no “hard and fast” rule about what form of exercise we should engage in. Rather, it’s best to move our bodies enjoyably, which may include going for a walk, swimming at the beach, dancing in the living room or playing a round of squash. In terms of specific exercise recommendations, it is best to seek out expert advice from an exercise physiologist.

black dumbells and weights with white running shoes

What are some of the warning signs my blood sugar levels might be too high?

  • Going to the toilet often
  • Extreme thirst
  • Nausea
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Fatigue

If these symptoms sound familiar, it’s best to have your blood sugar levels tested and seek expert assistance from a dietitian and an exercise physiologist.

At Acacia Well-Being, we tackle health from a holistic point of view, with a strong emphasis on the importance of working with a multidisciplinary team. Both a dietitian and exercise physiologist will be able to conduct comprehensive assessments and provide tailored recommendations to help you and your diabetes management. If you’re still wondering ‘what is diabetes?’, book a consult with us. Call us on 1300 800 993 or send us an email.