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Understanding Type 2 Diabetes and How to cure it
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Understanding Type 2 Diabetes and How to cure it.

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic medical condition in which the levels of sugar, or glucose, build up in your bloodstream.

Typically, the hormone insulin helps move glucose from your blood to your cells, where it’s used for energy. But with type 2 diabetes, your body’s cells aren’t able to respond to insulin as well as they should. In later stages of the condition, your body may also not produce enough insulin.

Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes can lead to chronically high blood glucose levels, which can cause several symptoms and potentially lead to serious complications.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, your body isn’t able to effectively use insulin to bring glucose into your cells. This causes your body to rely on alternative energy sources in your tissues, muscles, and organs. This is a chain reaction that can cause a variety of symptoms.

Type 2 diabetes can develop slowly. The symptoms may be mild and easy to dismiss at first. The early symptoms may include:

constant hunger

a lack of energy

fatigue

excessive thirst

frequent urination

blurry vision

pain, tingling, or numbness in your hands or feet

As the disease progresses, the symptoms become more severe and can cause some potentially dangerous complications.

Diet for type 2 diabetes

Diet is an important tool to help maintain optimal heart health and blood glucose levels that are within a safe range.

The diet recommended for people with type 2 diabetes is the same diet just about everyone should follow. It boils down to a few key actions:

Choose a variety of foods that are high in nutrients and low in empty calories.

Work on being mindful about portion sizes and stopping eating when you’re full.

Read food labels closely to understand the amount of sugar or carbs you could be ingesting in a serving size.

Foods and beverages to limit

If you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, or even if you’re trying to avoid diabetes and manage your weight, there are certain foods and beverages that you should limit if possible. These include:

foods heavy in saturated or trans fats (like red meat and full-fat dairy products)

processed meats (like hotdogs and salami)

margarine and shortening

refined baked goods (like white bread and cake)

high-sugar, highly processed snacks (packaged cookies and some cereals)

sugary drinks (like regular soda and some fruit juices)

While no one food, enjoyed every so often, should knock you off your healthy path, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor about dietary restrictions based on your blood sugar levels. Some people may need to monitor their glucose more carefully than others after eating these foods.

Causes of type 2 diabetes

Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone. Your pancreas produces it and releases it when you eat. Insulin helps transport glucose from your bloodstream to cells throughout your body, where it’s used for energy.

If you have type 2 diabetes, your body becomes resistant to insulin. Your body is no longer using the hormone efficiently. This forces your pancreas to work harder to make more insulin.

Over time, this can damage cells in your pancreas. Eventually, your pancreas may not be able to produce any insulin.

If you don’t produce enough insulin or if your body doesn’t use it efficiently, glucose builds up in your bloodstream. This leaves your body’s cells starved for energy. Doctors don’t know exactly what triggers this series of events. It may have to do with cell dysfunction in the pancreas or with cell signaling and regulation.

While lifestyle choices are typically what trigger type 2 diabetes, you may be more likely to be diagnosedTrusted Source with it if:

there’s a genetic predisposition to developing type 2 diabetes in your family

there’s a genetic predisposition to developing obesity in your family, which can increase the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes

you are at least 45 years old

you are Black, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, or of Alaska Native descent

While the definitive trigger of type 2 diabetes is your body’s resistance to insulin, there’s usually a combination of factors that increase your risk of that resistance occurring.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes

While there are some risk factors for type 2 diabetes that are out of your control (like your age and heritage, as mentioned above), there are certain lifestyle choices that can also put you at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Some of these include:

Living with excess weight. When you’re living with excess weight, you most likely have more fatty tissue, which can make your cells more resistant to insulin.

Living a more sedentary lifestyle. Regular physical activity helps your cells respond better to insulin.

Eating a lot of highly processed foods. Highly processed foods can have a lot of hidden sugar and refined carbs. If your life requires a more “grab-and-go” type of eating style, talk with your doctor or a dietician about nutritious swaps.

You may also be at increased risk if you’ve had gestational diabetes or prediabetes, two conditions caused by elevated glucose levels.

Tips for preventing type 2 diabetes

While you can’t always prevent type 2 diabetes, there are a few lifestyle tweaks can help delay, or even prevent, the onset. This is true even if you have increased risk factors like prediabetes.

Diet. The best kind of diet to prevent type 2 diabetes is a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy carbs, healthy fats, and very little refined sugar.

Exercise. According to the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for AmericansTrusted Source, the optimal amount of exercise a week for adults is 150 minutes, which can translate to 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. The Physical Activity Guidelines also recommend a combination of muscle strengthening and aerobic activity.

Weight management. Keeping a moderate weight is a good way to avoid chronic complicationsTrusted Source, including type 2 diabetes.

Complications associated with type 2 diabetes

For many people, type 2 diabetes can be effectively managed. If not properly managed, it can affect virtually all of your organs and lead to serious complications, including:

skin problems, like bacterial or fungal infections

nerve damage, or neuropathy, which can cause a loss of sensation or numbness and tingle in your extremities as well as digestive issues, like vomiting, diarrhoea, and constipation

poor circulation to the feet, makes it hard for your feet to heal when you have a cut or an infection and can also lead to gangrene and loss of the foot or leg

Hearing impairment retinal damage, or retinopathy, and eye damage, which can cause deteriorating vision, glaucoma, and cataracts cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure, narrowing of the arteries, angina, heart attack, and stroke

Women with diabetes are more likely to have a heart attack, at a younger age, than women without diabetes

Men with diabetes are 3.5 times as likely trusted Source to develop erectile dysfunction (ED)

Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia can happen when blood sugar is high. It’s typically characterized by frequent urination and increased thirst. Monitoring your blood glucose carefully, and staying active, can help prevent hyperglycemia.

Complications during and after pregnancy If you have diabetes while you’re pregnant, you’ll need to monitor your condition carefully. Diabetes that’s poorly controlled may: complicate pregnancy, labour, and delivery harm your baby’s developing organs cause your baby to gain excess weight

It can also increase your baby’s risk of developing diabetes during their lifetime.

Managing type 2 diabetes

Managing type 2 diabetes requires teamwork. You’ll need to work closely with your doctor, but a lot of the results depend on your choices.

Your doctor may want to perform periodic blood tests to determine your blood glucose levels. This will help determine how well you’re managing the condition. If you take medication, these tests will help gauge how well it’s working.

Your doctor may also recommend a home monitoring system to test your own blood glucose levels between visits. They’ll explain to you how often you should use it and what your target range should be.

Because diabetes can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, your doctor may want to monitor your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. If you have symptoms of heart disease, you may need additional tests. These tests may include an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) or a cardiac stress test.

It may also be helpful to bring your family into the loop. Educating them about the warning signs of blood glucose levels that are too high or too low will allow them to help in an emergency.

Type 2 diabetes in children

Type 2 diabetes in children is a growing issue. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), around 193,000 Americans under age 20 have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

One 2016 study found that the incidence of type 2 diabetes in youth has increased to about 5,000 new cases per year. Another study from 2017 also showed a significant increase, particularly in minority races and ethnic groups.

If your child has been diagnosed with diabetes, their doctor will need to determine if it’s type 1 or type 2 before suggesting a specific treatment.

In the same way that lifestyle choices can help adults manage or even reverse their type 2 diabetes diagnosis, you can help lower your child’s risk by encouraging them to eat well and to be physically active every day.

Takeaway

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that’s created when glucose levels build up in your bloodstream. It’s a common condition that’s often triggered by certain lifestyle choices. But the likelihood of a diagnosis can also be increased by genetics, age, and heritage.

Type 2 diabetes can be managed — and even reversed — with certain lifestyle changes. For more severe cases, medication is available.

If you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, talk with your doctor about developing a treatment plan that works for your lifestyle. Because this condition is so common, there’s a plethora of resources and first-person accounts to help you on your journey towards managing — or breaking free from — type 2 diabetes.

 

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