What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 Diabetes is a condition in which the body produces less than normal amounts of the pancreatic hormone insulin and the cells become resistant to the effects of insulin. When you eat, your body breaks the food down and absorbs the nutrients and glucose (a simple sugar). Glucose is the main energy source for the cells, but the cells can't absorb it on their own. Insulin needs to be present to facilitate the process. When people aren't producing enough insulin and the cells aren't responding appropriately, not enough glucose gets absorbed by the cells. Because of this, diabetics have high amounts of circulating glucose. These high blood glucose levels, can, over time, damage the tissues and organs of the body.
Diabetes and Your Body
The nerves and circulatory and immune system are especially vulnerable. Many diabetics who don't get their blood sugar under control wind up with nerve damage. Nerve damage can lead to problems with vision or a lack of sensation in the extremities. Over time, the blood vessels can harden, slowing circulation . Because of this, diabetics are prone to problems with their feet such as poorly healing cuts and ulcers. Many also suffer heart attacks or strokes. The reduced immune response also makes for slower healing and leads to more frequent and persistent infections.
Who Gets Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes shows up primarily in people of middle age or older. However, an alarming trend of younger and younger individuals developing this condition has been emerging. Unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle are largely to blame for this shift. Obesity and excess fat increase the risk of developing diabetes. For reasons not yet entirely clear, excess fat, especially on the abdomen, causes the cells to become resistant to insulin and decreases pancreatic output of the hormone. Diabetes often starts with the muscle cells. When they are underutilized, they start to become resistant to insulin, and the rest of the body follows their lead. Hence a very sedentary lifestyle, such as that of many modern Americans, contributes to the development of diabetes. As more and more people become overweight and inactive at younger ages, the prevalence of diabetes in this age group increases.
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
- Fatigue due to the lack of cellular fuel.
- Weight loss caused by the underutilization of glucose.
- Increased thirst resulting in increased urination as the kidneys desperately try to rid the body of excess sugar.
- Blurred vision as the kidneys use the water from all the bodies" tissues, including the eyes, to dilute the sugar content of the blood.
- Poor healing and frequent infections due to the impaired immune response.
If blood glucose levels are not properly controlled, other problems can develop over time. Damage to the nerves, eyes, kidneys, and feet is common. A decreased immune response can result in even mild infections having serious results. Many diabetics are forced to amputate one or more limbs. Long term diabetes also leads to high blood pressure and heart disease. Roughly seventy-five percent of diabetics die from heart complications.
Treating Type 2 Diabetes through Diet and Exercise
For many people, type 2 diabetes can be managed through diet and exercise alone. Eating small meals at regular intervals throughout the day helps keep blood glucose levels steady. So does eating foods high in fiber or whole grains that get absorbed slowly. It is best to avoid refined sugar and flour. White bread and sweets should be treats for special occasions rather than staple food sources. Exercise helps prevent against many of the effects on the cardiovascular symptom as well as controlling weight. As a diabetic, you should aim to exercise at least half an hour every day.