Diabetes Treatment
(Type 1 and Type 2 Medications and Diet)

  • Medical Author:

    Robert Ferry Jr., MD, is a U.S. board-certified Pediatric Endocrinologist. After taking his baccalaureate degree from Yale College, receiving his doctoral degree and residency training in pediatrics at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), he completed fellowship training in pediatric endocrinology at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Type 2 Diabetes Diet

A type 2 diabetes diet is based on eating foods low on the glycemic index, for example:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole wheat
  • Brown rice
  • Steel-cut oatmeal
  • Beans
  • Lentils

Diabetes type 1 and type 2 treatment facts

  • Controlling blood sugar (glucose) levels is the major goal of diabetes treatment, in order to prevent complications of the disease.
  • Type 1 diabetes is managed with insulin as well as dietary changes and exercise.
  • Type 2 diabetes may be managed with non-insulin medications, insulin, weight reduction, or dietary changes.
  • The choice of medications for type 2 diabetes is individualized, taking into account:
    • the effectiveness and side effect profile of each medication,
    • the patient's underlying health status,
    • any medication compliance issues, and
    • cost to the patient or health-care system.
  • Medications for type 2 diabetes can work in different ways to reduce blood glucose levels. They may:
    • increase insulin sensitivity,
    • increase glucose excretion,
    • decrease absorption of carbohydrates from the digestive tract, or
    • work through other mechanisms.
  • Medications for type 2 diabetes are often used in combination.
  • Different methods of delivering insulin include:
  • Proper nutrition is a part of any diabetes care plan. There is no one specific "diabetic diet" that is recommended for all individuals.
  • Pancreas transplantation is an area of active study for the treatment of diabetes.

Which specialties of doctors treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

Endocrinologists are the specialists in endocrine disorders such as diabetes and as such, manage many patients with diabetes. Primary care specialists, including internists and family practice specialists, may also treat patients with diabetes.

What is the treatment for diabetes?

The major goal in treating type 1 and type 2 diabetes is to control blood sugar (glucose) levels within the normal range, with minimal excursions to low or high levels.

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is treated with:

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is treated:

  • First with weight reduction, a type 2 diabetes diet, and exercise
  • Oral medications are prescribed when these measures fail to control the elevated blood sugars of type 2 diabetes.
  • If oral medications become ineffective treatment with insulin is initiated.

Diabetes Diet

Adherence to a diabetic diet is a critical aspect of controlling blood sugar in people with diabetes. When considering an ideal diabetic diet, a number of factors must be taken into consideration, including the amount and type of carbohydrates consumed as well as the amount of fiber, fat, and protein contained in foods. Glycemic index and glycemic load are further considerations. Foods with low glycemic index and load raise blood sugar more slowly than high glycemic index/load foods. Glycemic index refers to a standardized measurement, while glycemic load takes a typical portion size into account.

Meal timing and timing and amount of insulin administration are considerations when planning a diet for people with type 1 diabetes (link).

Each ADA diet is:

  • balanced,
  • nutritious, and
  • low in fat, cholesterol, and simple sugars.

The total daily calories are evenly divided into three meals (with snacks for youth with type 1 diabetes). Over the past two years the ADA has lifted the absolute ban on simple sugars for people with diabetes. Small amounts of simple sugars are now allowed when consumed with a complex meal.

Weight reduction and exercise

Weight reduction and exercise are important treatments for type 2 diabetes. Weight reduction and exercise increase the body's sensitivity to insulin, thus helping to control blood sugar elevations.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/29/2016
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