If you or a loved one have diabetes, you may have thought about the best way to control diabetes without medication. But whether or not this is possible depends from person to person, and from case to case.
In this article, we will take a look at whether or not you can control diabetes without medicines and talk about some of how you can take better care of your diabetes health and keep it under control.
Can I Control Diabetes Without Medication?
The answer to how to control diabetes without medicine is something that will depend on a variety of factors, the most common being the type of diabetes you have.
Type 1 diabetes
- For those who have type 1 diabetes, controlling it without taking the medications that have been prescribed to you by your diabetes healthcare team may not be possible.
- This is because, in type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce any insulin, or, even if it does, the amount of insulin that is produced may not be enough.
- In such a case, with type 1 diabetes, if you do not take your diabetes medicines on time, there can be an excess loss of fluid from the body, which can result in dehydration.
- In some cases, excessive dehydration can also lead to diabetic coma.
Type 2 diabetes
- For those who have type 2 diabetes, whether or not you can control diabetes without medicines for it will vary from person to person.
- In the initial stages of type 2 diabetes, the body produces enough amount of insulin but finds it difficult to use it. Over time, your body may even stop producing enough insulin. This is when it may be necessary to take diabetes medicines.
- In some cases, when you are overweight or obese, your diabetes healthcare team may first try to help you lose weight in consultation with a dietician and nutritionist. Once you start losing weight, it can help reduce your blood sugar levels and bring them within the ideal range.
- Once blood sugar reaches its ideal range, it may be possible to control diabetes without medication, but you will have to couple it with a healthy eating routine and an active lifestyle.
- Gestational diabetes is the type of diabetes that happens during pregnancy.
- In gestational diabetes, especially in the early stages, it may sometimes be possible to manage it without medicines.
- But as the pregnancy progresses, the mother may require more insulin than the body is producing or may require a higher dosage of medicine.
- While sugar levels are likely to go back to normal after the pregnancy, there is always a risk of gestational diabetes resurfacing in a future pregnancy. In some cases, the mother may be at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes as well.
How to Control or Manage Diabetes Without Medicine?
Managing diabetes with diet and exercise may be possible in some people when they are aware of healthier lifestyle choices and follow these over some time.
Here are a few ways in which you can better manage or control diabetes without medication:
1. Better and healthier eating choices
What you eat or do not eat will have a direct impact on not only your diabetes health but on your overall health as well. The foods that you eat have a direct impact on your blood sugar levels, so you must be mindful and aware of which foods to have and which ones to avoid when you want to manage your diabetes better.
2. Understand portion control
- Your diabetes healthcare team, specifically your diabetes dietician and nutritionist will help you better understand the portion sizes that are suitable for you when you are trying to take better care of your diabetes health.
- Different food types and categories will require different portion sizes.
- To make it easier and avoid mistakes, especially when there are different types of food involved, you can use the same Katori to use as a measuring tool. For instance, if you are asked to eat one cup of daal and half a cup of brown rice for a particular meal, use the same Katori to measure the amount of daal and brown rice that you need for that meal.
3. Watch your carbohydrate intake
- Carbohydrates are also important in your meal plan, but it is important to understand how much you can eat safely to manage your diabetes.
- One of the key ways to better manage your diabetes with food control is to keep a tab on your carbohydrate intake.
- Carbohydrates often have the biggest effect on your overall levels of blood sugar. Also, if you are on insulin at the time of the meal, it is essential that you know the exact amount of carbohydrates you are having, so that you can get the right amount of insulin.
- As with portion control, using the same Katori for all your food measurements can help you keep a better tab on how much of which food item you are eating.
4. Have a well-balanced meal
- Your meal should ideally contain a mix of various nutrients and food types so that you get all the goodness from your food and manage your diabetes health better.
- Ideally, your thaali or each meal should contain a mix of proteins, fiber, fats, starchy food, fruits, and vegetables.
- Different types of nuts and seeds, cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, beans, daals, raagi, sprouts, red or brown rice, whole grains, fresh fruits, and salads are all healthy options.
5. Quality of sleep and regular exercise are equally important
When it comes to a positive approach to managing your diabetes, especially without taking any medicines, regular exercise is yet another lifestyle change that can give you very good results. Along with regular exercise, you also need to have a good restful sleep at night, ensuring that you get good quality sleep.
6. Regular exercise
- If you have not started exercising yet, or if you are a beginner or get tired too easily, have at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. Once you start exercising regularly, you can increase this to 45 minutes or an hour to one and a half hours of exercise a day.
- Find out different ways to exercise that interest you. Brisk walking, jogging, running, dancing, aerobics, Zumba, swimming, playing an outdoor sport, and cycling are all great ways to include some form of exercise in your daily routine, without getting bored.
- If you find it boring to exercise alone, ask a friend, relative, or partner to join in. You may also end up making new friends while on your daily walk, or in your new yoga class!
7. Quality of sleep is important
- Try and sleep for at least seven to eight hours a night, as sleeping for less than six hours the night may interfere with the levels of insulin as well as blood sugar in your body.
- Quality sleep is important, so make sure that you get uninterrupted sleep through the night.
- If you find it difficult to fall asleep or if you wake up a few times at night, find out what could be causing these disruptions.
- Reduce and avoid screen time before going to bed, avoid having caffeine or alcohol in the evening, reduce the amount of spicy food you have at dinner time and ensure that you are wearing comfortable clothes to bed and that the temperature in the room is cozy – not too warm and not too cold. Ensure that you reduce any form of light in the room and see to it that the room is quiet.
- Use the washroom right before you get in bed and avoid drinking too much fluid at bedtime. This will ensure that you do not have to get up multiple times during the night to use the washroom.
8. Get yourself tested regularly
- When you test your blood sugar levels at regular intervals, it is easier to spot any fluctuations right at the start, and your diabetes healthcare team will be able to guide you accordingly.
- Monitor the blood sugar levels before and after food, before and after exercise, at bedtime, and when you wake up. This will give you an idea of what can cause a spike in your blood sugar levels and what makes it go down or keeps it stable.
- These figures will help you better plan your meals, exercise, and sleep.
- Regularly checking your blood sugar levels will also ensure that you can spot any signs of diabetes complications right at the onset. Often the symptoms of diabetes complications such as retinopathy, neuropathy, nephropathy, or foot disease are not immediately visible and may take some time to spot.
- Regular blood tests will also pick up your cholesterol levels and kidney function, which can help your diabetes healthcare team keep a watch on your overall health.
Please do remember that even if you may be feeling well, or even if your blood sugar levels are within the ideal range, it can be very dangerous to suddenly stop your diabetes medication without the supervision or approval of your diabetes healthcare team.
Before you stop any medicine or try to reduce the dosage on your own, speak to your doctor and follow their advice and suggestion.