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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How do exercise and diet help keep type 2 diabetes under control?

    I have recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I am 40 years old. How exactly do diet and exercise help control my condition?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1


    Kirsty Woods

    Exercise Physiologist

    Hi I’m Kirsty Woods,I would like to use my experience, expertise and passion to help you reach your weight, energy and health goalsI have been … View Profile

    To start off with Type 2 diabetes occurs when blood sugar levels rise beyond normal limits due to lack of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas in response to carbohydrate (glucose) intake. After you have eaten a meal the pancreas detects the rise in BSL and secretes insulin. Insulin transports glucose into the cells where it is either used for energy or stored as glycogen in the liver/muscles or as fat in adipose tissue, therefore reducing blood sugar to normal levels.

    The above response does not occur in those with type 2 diabetes, thus leading to elevated blood sugar levels. Consequences of increased blood sugar levels include cardiovascular disease, nerve damage and kidney problems.

    As mentioned previously diet (carbohydrate intake) impacts blood sugar levels, and as type 2 diabetics lack the insulin response necessary to reduce bloods sugar levels back to normal it is really important to reduce carbohydrate intake, especially simple carbohydrates such as sugars, soft drinks/fruit juices and pastries.

    There is less known about the exact mechanisms by which exercise helps in diabetes management; however it is related to improved insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake by cells. When we exercise our muscles and cells need fuel, so our body responds by opening glucose transporters called Glute 4, thus allowing more glucose into the cells and reducing blood sugar levels.

    Insulin sensitivity refers to how the cells respond to any insulin that is secreted. Although the insulin response is altered in type 2 diabetes, during the early stages some insulin is still released by the pancreas. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity and optimizes the cells response to insulin thus helping to reduce blood sugar levels, even when not exercising. 

  • Luke Delvecchio

    Diabetes Educator, Exercise Physiologist, Nutritionist

    Specializing in the assessment and treatment of metabolism related weight disorders. View Profile

    Kirsty has given you a very good explanation as to how and why exercise is very important in managing diabetes, I would recommend you consider purchasing an excellent book, written by Dr.Adam Fraser titled “Sugar Daddy” this book gives you a complete exercise and dietary program to follow which you can begin immediately, the link is below:

  • Lisa Renn


    Lisa is an APD with 12 years experience, specialising in helping people identify and change habits that impact negatively on their health. Inspiring change, Lisa … View Profile

    Hi there,
    the impact of food choices has direct and indirect consequences that effect your blood sugar control and long term health that need to be considered.

    The glucose contained in carbohydrate food will directly affect your blood glucose levels. An Accredited Practisng Dietitian (APD) will be able to direct you towards low glycemic index foods. It is important not to avoid carbohydrates as they are part of a healthy diet and the body's preferred source of energy.

    Your food choices will also impact on your body weight and cholesterol levels, while this will not directly impact your blood sugar levels it does have an impact on insulin resistance and heart disease risk which is already increased in people with diabetes.

    So diet and food choices are really important pieces of knowledge that you will need to gain in order to manage your diabetes well.

    As a person newly diagnosed with diabetes it is really important that you speak with your GP about establishing a diabetes management team which may consist of a Dietitian, Diabetes Educator, Podiatrist, Eye specialist and Exercise physiologist.

    All the best.

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