Using Insulin for Type 2 Diabetes: Benefits Beyond Your A1c
Yes, the most obvious benefit of using insulin is to lower your A1c and reach your blood sugar goals, but there’s a lot more to it than that!
Simply put, insulin is a tool that can give your body the support it needs. Whether your body struggles to produce enough insulin or it struggles to use the insulin it does create, taking insulin can affect your emotional well-being and daily quality of life.
In fact, there may be some less obvious benefits of using insulin to manage type 2 diabetes that you might not have considered before.
More flexibility + freedom
While the typical person without diabetes may think only the sugar-laden foods raise blood sugar, people with diabetes know it isn’t that simple. Even a bowl of homemade oatmeal, an apple, or brown rice with kale can spike your blood sugar plenty if your body struggles to produce enough insulin.
Taking insulin means you have the flexibility to eat a reasonable variety of food without having to endure hours of high blood sugar levels.
For many people with type 2 diabetes, it can seem like even the healthiest meal spikes your blood sugar. On the other hand, you shouldn’t have to eat steamed chicken and broccoli all day just because you have diabetes. Life is about balance, and that includes enjoying the occasional slice of pizza, homemade cookies, birthday cake, or Thanksgiving dinner!
Insulin can give you more flexibility and freedom around your daily food choices. Sure, insulin shouldn’t be used as an excuse to neglect your goals around a balanced diet, but a balanced diet should include yummier things, too.
That balance prevents you from feeling deprived and makes it possible to sustain your nutrition goals long-term. A healthy diet should include foods that serve us physically and keep us feeling sane!
Feel less frustration + more power
If non-insulin medications aren’t helping you reach your blood sugar goals, the frustration you’re feeling daily can be exhausting. It would be easy to just give up when you feel like you’re doing everything you should be and it isn’t working.
Sometimes duct tape (other medications or changes to your diet and exercise routine) fixes a problem wonderfully. Other times, duct tape doesn’t cut it. Using insulin means you have the tool your body truly needs when nothing else has worked well enough.
Food is just one variable that affects blood sugar levels. Did you know your liver produces glucose all day long? During various entirely normal situations in life, your liver can also release a burst of glucose.
There are a couple of dozen different factors that can spike blood sugars, including:
- Menstruation or menopause
- Medications (steroids, hormones, vitamin B3, etc.)
- Infection or illness
- Increased stress, anxiety, etc.
- Dawn phenomenon
- High-intensity anaerobic exercise
- Lack of sleep
Your blood sugar is related to so much more than food. Using insulin means you have the tools you need to correct and manage blood sugar fluctuations from any reason. This means less frustration and more power.
Improved mood + energy levels
High blood sugars are about as delightful as getting soaked by a thunderstorm halfway through your afternoon dog walk. Using insulin means you have a tool that serves you much like an umbrella in a thunderstorm—you can’t stop the rain, but you can protect yourself from it well enough to get home.
While the high number on your blood glucose meter is an immediate downer, it also physically feels downright lousy. Sometimes the impact of high blood sugar on your mood is subtle—you’re just feeling kind of “bleh,” and you don’t quite know why.
High blood sugars can fuel bursts of anger, intense frustration, and an overall miserable feeling that makes you want to curl up in bed and hide.
The highs can also drain you of all your energy. This feeling makes sense scientifically, too, since the glucose is essentially trapped in your bloodstream if you don’t have enough insulin to transport it to the cells that need it for fuel!
Trying to muster the energy for work, school, a dog walk, or the gym is especially challenging when your brain is feeling grizzly with high blood sugars, and your energy tank is zero.
Using insulin can mean fewer high blood sugars that leave you struggling mentally and physically to enjoy the day and get life done.
The bottom line
Using insulin to manage any type of diabetes certainly isn’t easy. It comes with a learning curve and requires plenty of patience to fine-tune your doses. But if your body truly needs support from insulin therapy to reach your blood sugar goals, the improvements it can offer your day-to-day life make it worthwhile.
Educational content related to insulin is made possible with support from Lilly Diabetes, an active partner of Beyond Type 2 at the time of publication. Editorial control rests solely on Beyond Type 2.