The global epidemic, Type 2 Diabetes
So what is the definition of type 2 diabetes?
We know that Type 2 diabetes is a disorder of the endocrine system which is characterised by the body’s inability to maintain stable blood glucose levels.
Did you know that?
This chronic disease is the fastest growing condition in Australia representing 85-90 percent of all cases of diabetes. We believe that almost half the cases of type 2 diabetes remain undiagnosed. This makes it one of the most challenging and concerning public health issues.
“Diagnosis and treatment are very important to prevent long-term complications of diabetes”
Common complications that are known to be associated with the disorder include:
Stroke, heart disease, damage to the eyes and kidneys, nerve problems, poor circulation, and limb amputation.
What is the physiology of the condition?
To understand how diabetes arises, we must understand the term “blood sugars.” When we consume a meal that contains carbohydrates, our body breaks the molecules down into glucose. Glucose is the chemical name for a type of sugar. This form of sugar (glucose) can be used or stored as fuel for our cells. When our blood glucose spikes after a meal, our pancreas responds by producing and secreting a hormone called insulin. Insulin acts by removing the glucose from the bloodstream and moving it into our cells for energy.
Type 2 diabetes arises when the body cannot produce enough insulin OR the body’s cells become resistant to the insulin. This results in an excess of glucose in the blood and high blood sugar levels.
Diabetes risk factors:
The most common factors associated with the diabetes disorder are being overweight or obese, a poor diet, and low levels of physical activity.
Other known risk factors include:
- Central obesity
- Cigarette smokers
- People which a sedentary lifestyle
- Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islanders
- Women with PCOS that are also overweight
- People with heart disease
- A diet high in sugars, salt and processed foods.
- People with a relative with type 2 diabetes
- Over 45 years of age
- Gestational diabetes. If you developed gestational diabetes when you were pregnant then your risk of type 2 diabetes increases.
Early signs of type 2 diabetes:
With such a high number of type 2 diabetes cases going undiagnosed, it is no surprise that there are more often no symptoms present with the development of the disorder.
Although uncommon, symptoms can include:
- Increased thirst
- Passing more urine
- Poor wound healing
- Increase in appetite
- Blurred vision
How can you prevent this growing health problem?
Unlike type 1 diabetes, you can prevent type 2 with the correct diet and lifestyle modifications. A low-carbohydrate diet has proven to be effective in managing the disorder, as well as 30 minutes of exercise 3-5 times a week which is something we could all strive for.
Some nutrients have also been linked as being beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes. Nutrients you might consider boosting are:
- Magnesium- assists blood glucose regulation
- Chromium- Involved in the action of insulin
- Calcium and vitamin D- associated with prevention
- Omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent insulin resistance
Although studies show these nutrients as beneficial, it is strongly recommended that you discuss dietary and supplement advice with a dietitian.
With the current Western diet being full of processed, fried and sweetened food it is no surprise that diabetes is on the rise and we are more at risk.
The largely preventable disorder is not only affecting Australia’s public health system but is seen as a growing global issue. Furthermore, Diabetes Australia states that diabetes is the epidemic of the 21st century. It has never been more important to take control of your health and lifestyle to prevent future diseases.
Beyond Type 2 Diabetes
As part of National Diabetes Week, Nutrition for Life is hosting events around Tasmania to educate on best practice dietary management of Diabetes.
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