A Day in the Life of a Diabetic

How to Live With Type 1 Diabetes

Background Information

  • Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas by beta cells. In a normal body, insulin is released into the bloodstream when our glucose levels rise.
  • With type one diabetes, beta cells produce little or no insulin. The body needs insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. The body breaks down the sugars and starches you eat into glucose, which it uses for energy. In type one the cells do not receive blood glucose or receive little amounts due to the lack of insulin production. The protein inside the cell comes to the receptors and brings the glucose into the cell. The transport proteins go to the edge of the cell to the receptors to bring in the glucose.
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Blood Sugar Monitoring

  • People diagnosed with type one diabetes usually starts with two injections of insulin per day of two different types of insulin and generally progress to three or four injections per day of insulin of different types. A normal blood glucose target range for a person without diabetes is 70-100 mg/dL. For someone with type one diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends a glucose level of 70-130 mg/dL and after meals less than 180 mg/dL.
  • The equipment necessary to test your glucose levels are test strips, lancing device and a glucose meter. You will prick your finger with the lancing device and swipe your blood onto a test strip. Then you will place the strip into the glucose meter and it will tell you what your glucose level is.
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Drug Treatment

  • There are no pills you can take to cure or help with type one diabetes. Type one diabetics will use an insulin pump, an insulin pen, or a syringe to inject insulin into their bloodstream.
  • Several special situations can complicate insulin treatment. Eating out can be challenging since calorie and fat content, portion sizes and ingredients used are usually different from meals prepared at home. You can estimate the carbohydrate content of your meal to calculate insulin dose; nutrition information is often available at restaurants or a reference book.
  • Another situation could be if a patient has recently had surgery. Patients who have surgery may be told to not eat for 8-12 hours before their procedure. A healthcare provider can help to determine the dose and timing of insulin before and after the procedure, especially if you will be unable to eat a normal diet afterwards. Normally diabetics will take their long acting insulin at night. Because they can not eat after midnight the night before a surgery, many providers recommend that they take only half their usual dose. Once they wake from the surgery, the patient will have their blood glucose levels checked.
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Recommendations for a Diabetic Diet and Exercise

  • A diabetic should maintain a diet of fruit, vegetables, grains and proteins like meat, beans, or eggs.
  • It is best to steer clear of citrus fruits like grapefruits and oranges because they will spike your blood sugar; only eat a citrus foot if your blood sugar is way down low. Make sure and eat vegetables that are full of fiber like asparagus, beets, carrots, etc.
  • When eating grains you want to make sure they are whole grains because they are packed with nutrition and extra fiber.
  • Getting enough protein is important because it helps maintain muscle and heal wounds. Proteins will not directly raise your blood sugar, but fatty or processed meats also contain cholesterol which can be harmful if you take in too much.
  • It is better to eat complex carbs like pasta instead of simple sugars like oranges because overtime the complex carbohydrate will decompose and keep your levels steady where as simple sugars will continue to spike your blood sugar and give you bursts of energy.
  • Exercise is also important for proper diabetes care. Being active will help stabilize your blood sugar. After running, your blood pressure is lower so you do not need to take in as much insulin. As a type one diabetic you should also lower your sodium intake because it will decrease you risk of heart attack or stroke which are both common with diabetes complications.
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