Anita was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes 10 years ago and since then, she has taken every precaution possible to keep it under control. She exercised regularly, stuck to a healthy diet, reduced stress and took her medications regularly. Yet, in her latest check-up, she was asked to start taking insulin shots. Anita thought she had failed at managing her diabetes and that all her hard work was for nought. She was very upset at the prospect of taking insulin shots.
There are many like Anita who react to the news of taking insulin shots in a defeatist manner. However, what they don’t understand is that diabetes management is not a simple affair and its management is not dependent wholly on good diet and exercise. Moreover, every person’s diabetes care is different and one cannot simply draw comparisons.
As you are well aware, there is Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is an auto-immune disease wherein the body’s immune system destroys all of the body’s insulin-generating cells. Insulin is a hormone that’s made by the pancreas and your body requires it to convert the glucose from your food into energy. Insulin is vital to keeping your blood sugar from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia).
People with Type 1 Diabetes have to take insulin either by injection or a pump, just so that they can survive. However, people with Type 2 Diabetes may or may not need insulin and it completely depends on what is going on in their bodies, specifically the production of insulin by the pancreas. If the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas is not enough for the body’s energy conversion needs, then insulin is required.
Sometimes, the body’s cells may be resistant to the effects of insulin, commonly known as insulin sensitivity or insulin resistance. When this occurs the body requires much more insulin than a person who does not have diabetes, or insulin sensitivity or resistance. A good diet, regular exercise and weight loss can help bring blood glucose levels to a normal range without the need for insulin. There are some oral diabetes medications that aid the body in using the insulin produced naturally by the pancreas more efficiently. Some medications help the pancreas to produce more insulin. These medicines avoid the need for insulin shots if taken regularly, followed by, as mentioned before, good diet and exercise. However, like everything in life, it is not foolproof!
Like Anita, at the start of our article, people with Type 2 Diabetes who have stayed healthy for many years with oral medications, diet and exercise, may now find that their bodies can no longer keep the blood glucose in a normal range. This is normal and it is widely believed that it could be because the body’s insulin-producing cells have been depleted from years of having to overproduce insulin to overcome insulin resistance.
So, if you find yourself in a similar boat like Anita, then don’t consider it a failure. Take the insulin prescription with a positive attitude, knowing that it will only help you in staying healthy and free from long-term diabetes complications. And just like before, continue with your healthy diet and exercise.