Tips for Managing Type 1 and 2 Diabetes at Home

  • 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: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • 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.

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Exercise therapy for diabetes

Regular aerobic exercise improves blood circulation and lowers blood glucose levels. Exercise also strengthens the heart and helps maintain an ideal body weight. The chosen aerobic exercise should use large muscle groups. Running, walking, biking, and swimming are excellent activities for most people. The frequency, type, and duration of exercise depend on the individual's age, treatment goals, and physical ability. An exercise program should be designed with the guidance of a health care professional.

Exercise usually decreases the blood glucose levels. If blood glucose is low or normal, exercise may cause hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) due to the utilization of glucose by the active muscles. Therefore, food intake and insulin doses should be adjusted based on the intensity and duration of the anticipated exercise.

Diet therapy for diabetes

Proper nutrition is critical to the management of all forms of diabetes. Some people with type 2 diabetes can control their disease with diet and exercise alone. The right nutrition can help control blood glucose levels, reduce blood cholesterol, maintain optimal body weight, and delay the complications of diabetes. Like exercise, diet therapy is tailored for each person. A successful diet should ideally consider the person’s ethnic background, financial situation, and lifestyle. It also should be simple, since it may be more difficult to follow diet plans with complex rules or food exchanges.

People with diabetes are often advised to use alternative (artificial) sweeteners. Sweeteners are either nutritive or non - nutritive. Nutritive sweeteners, such as sorbitol and fructose, provide calories but may not raise blood glucose levels as much as regular sugar. Non-nutritive sweeteners - such as sucralose, saccharin, and aspartame - do not contain significant calories. Both types of sweeteners are acceptable, but the caloric content of the nutritive sweeteners should be considered when calculating the daily intake of calories. In addition, large quantities of sorbitol can cause diarrhea, and fructose contributes to some diabetic complications.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/22/2016

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