Diabetes is one of the toughest diseases to cure, but if a patient can adopt the right approaches to controlling blood sugar levels, the illness can not be serious enough to affect normal life and can even be cured, a Taiwanese medical expert suggests.
Dr. Yu Neng-chun, who specializes in endocrinology and metabolism and is also the former chairman of the Board of Directors of the Diabetes Health Education Association in Taiwan, said on the Everyday Health channel that diabetes is classified into two types.
Type 1 diabetes is caused by the autoimmune system mistakenly attacking the insulin-making cells, leaving the pancreas completely or almost unable to produce insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is when the body can secrete insulin but can’t use it properly, resulting in an unusually high level of blood sugar.
Diabetic patients are unable to metabolize glucose (sugar) due to abnormal secretion of insulin, resulting in glucose not being used by body cells and accumulating in the blood, causing blood glucose to rise and even be excreted in the urine.
Normally, patients with diabetes need to receive insulin injections that stimulate hepatocytes and muscle cells to convert glucose into glycogen and lower patients’ blood sugar; but according to Dr. Song Yan-ren, the former deputy director of the Department of Health in Taiwan, this medical approach only forces the cells to store the sugar.
More insulin intake can lead to a vicious cycle of patient dependence on the medicine, Dr. Song said on his YouTube channel.
The right way to make the body use sugar effectively is to start with diet and exercise and improve lifestyle habits, he said.
Dr. Yu also said that type 2 diabetes is more related to lifestyle, diet, daily routine, and body metabolism; and can be prevented and treated through improving lifestyle and diet, and exercise.
Six ways that are helpful in preventing diabetes are: maintaining a healthy weight, proper sugar intake, regular exercise, keeping a positive mood, health checkups, and avoiding sedentary behavior, Dr. Yu suggested.
Adjusting dietary habits plays a positive role in the stabilization and remission of blood sugar. One should prioritize protein and vegetables, as well as change from eating rice with vegetables to “eating vegetables with rice” to effectively change eating habits and feel more satiated.
Doing some exercise 30 minutes to 2 hours after a meal, even if it is a 10-minute walk or climbing stairs, is fine, said Dr. Yu, citing that exercising the body after a meal will preferentially apply the sugar produced by the food, effectively reducing post-meal blood sugar spikes.
He cautioned that in addition to three regular daily meals, patients need to abstain from the habit of snacking—especially at night—and avoid consuming alcohol or sugary drinks, as this pushes blood sugar levels higher.
Medical experts believe whether it’s type 1 or type 2 diabetes, as long as patients can stabilize their blood sugar levels, they can live a normal life and even engage in athletic competition. For example, Hong Kong athlete Henry Wong, a type 1 diabetic patient and an excellent long-distance runner, completed 103 km, 56 km, and 33 km races in the Hong Kong 100 marathon earlier this year to win the Grand Slam award.