The Basics of Type 2 Diabetes

There are two types of diabetes: Diabetes Type 1 and Diabetes Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The symptoms of type 1 diabetes develop during childhood, usually between the ages 6 and 14. This type of diabetes is not caused by weight or what one eats, and it is not preventable.

The most common type of diabetes is type 2. This form of diabetes may have some genetic elements, but is also closely related to what one eats and one’s activity level. As of now, type 2 diabetes symptoms show up between the ages of 40 and 65. Because of the obesity epidemic it is also starting to affect children. There are cases of type 2 diabetes showing up in children.

Symptoms of Diabetes

Most individuals who develop diabetes have a combination of these symptoms:

  • Extreme thirst
  • The need to urinate (pee) all the timeshutterstock_228844597
  • Constantly feeling hungry
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Infected wounds that do not heal
  • Bruising
  • Blurry vision
  • Weight loss (for diabetes type one)
  • Tingling, pain and numbness in the fingers and toes (for diabetes type two)

What Happens in the Body with Type 2 Diabetes?

72856609Insulin is a hormone that is secreted by an organ in the body called the pancreas. Insulin’s job is to move sugar (glucose) that is circulating in the blood, into the cells that need it for energy. Glucose is the gasoline that enables cells do everything they need to do. It keeps us alive! When blood sugar is not able to transfer out of the blood and into the cells, it builds up in the blood. This causes a blood test to show a high level of blood sugar.

In type 2 diabetes two important processes happen

  1. Cells become resistant to insulin
  2. The pancreas decreases the amount of insulin it makes

When the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or the body doesn’t use insulin correctly because of insulin resistance, then cells don’t absorb the sugar necessary to function.

What are the causes of Type 2 Diabetes?

The data clearly shows that individuals who do not exercise and are overweight are at increased risk of developing diabetes.

Researchers are still investigating the exact physiologic triggers in the body that decrease the amount of insulin made by the pancreas, and make cells resistant to absorbing insulin out of the blood.

According to one theory, when people overeat it wears out the body. The body has to break down food, process it correctly, secrete a variety of chemicals and absorb the right nutrients. It is designed to process the amount of food required for survival. While over-eating once in a while is o.k. there is a tendency for many to consume too many calories on a daily basis.

Added to that are highly concentrated sugars (carbohydrates) and fats, for example soda or deep fried foods. Remember that these high concentrations of sugar and fat in a single food, are rare in nature. The body is forced to work even harder to process these types of food.

junk food

When this happens day after day, the cells of the pancreas that make insulin become overworked and start to break down. The body can’t make enough insulin keep up with the number of calories entering the body. The cells also become resistant to the effects of insulin.

The extra calories that are transformed by the body into glucose end up in the blood stream with nowhere to go, and this is when damage sets in.

How is it Stopped?

Diet is one of the most important keys to preventing and managing type 2 diabetes. By reducing overall calories, eating greens and whole grains, and avoiding sugary and high fat foods, the risk for diabetes is reduced.

Regular exercise uses the calories the body receives, and reduces the risk of diabetes.  Something as simple as a daily 30 minute walk can help.

The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed medical professional. It is essential that you discuss with your primary care provider any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.

Sources

Clark, J. (2014). Lifestyle recommendations for people at increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Nurse Prescribing, 12(3), 143-146.

Mattson MP, Wan R (2005) Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 2005;16(3):129-137

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