Of the roughly 34.5 million Americans with diabetes, nearly 33 million have type 2 diabetes, the type most commonly associated with being overweight or obese. Losing even a little weight can have a big impact on your diabetes symptoms, including your need for insulin.
At Grassroots Healthcare our team helps diabetic patients learn how to shed excess pounds and maintain a healthier weight, for a more natural, holistic approach to diabetes treatment. Here’s how losing weight might help you manage your diabetes more effectively — and with less reliance on medication.
Your pancreas produces a hormone called insulin that helps your body process or metabolize glucose, also called blood sugar. In a healthy person, the pancreas produces just enough insulin to “balance out” the amount of glucose in your blood.
In type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t process and use insulin efficiently. Eventually, your pancreas may not produce as much insulin as your body needs. That leads to an increased amount of glucose in your blood, which in turn leads to type 2 diabetes.
So, how does extra weight play a role? First, being overweight puts excess strain on your body, including your pancreas. When you consume too many calories, your glucose levels rise, and that means your pancreas has to go into overdrive to produce enough insulin to keep your glucose levels under control.
Your pancreas isn’t able to meet those extra demands forever. Eventually, it won’t be able to produce as much insulin as your body needs. At the same time, extra weight interferes with your body’s ability to use insulin, which means glucose levels can continue to rise, along with other diabetes-related risks, like:
Even if you don’t have diabetes now, extra pounds can significantly increase your risk of developing diabetes, a condition called prediabetes.
Losing extra pounds is important for lots of reasons, but if you have diabetes or prediabetes, dropping excess weight is especially critical. In fact, simply by losing weight, you could reduce your reliance on insulin medications.
That’s because losing weight helps decrease and eventually stabilize your glucose levels, which makes it easier for your pancreas to produce the “right” amount of insulin again. As the balance between insulin and glucose nears normal levels, your body may need less “outside” insulin to metabolize glucose. Ultimately, that means you could begin to decrease the insulin you’re using — and maybe even stop it altogether.
Lower glucose levels can also decrease your diabetes-related risks like the ones in the list above. Reduced weight also makes it easier to stay physically active, which also plays an important role in managing glucose and insulin levels.
The relationship between diabetes and weight is complex, with lots of factors coming into play. But regardless of all that complexity, one thing is crystal clear: Learning how to manage your weight can go a long way toward controlling your diabetes and improving your overall health.
To learn more about diabetes management using a more holistic approach, call the office or book an appointment online today.