20 years ago, the only people who had diabetes were those born with the condition, or those who had a family history of the condition and developed later in life – type 1 diabetes!
These days, in the western world (and in particular the USA, Britain, Australia and NZ), type 2 diabetes is becoming something of an epidemic. It is out of control, and we need to look at why that it. What has changed in our diets, in our lifestyle that is causing this disease to become so alarmingly common? Not only that, diabetes is now affecting the younger population as much as the older and more mature.
The diabetes epidemic is growing, and the number of new diagnoses is staggering. In Australia alone, there are around 270-300 new cases every day! That is disgraceful.
2 million Australians already have pre-diabetes and are in the extremely high risk category or developing type 2 diabetes. Yet the baffling thing is that type 2 diabetes is preventable! With a few changes to lifestyle, including changes in diet and exercise, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes can be dramatically reduced.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) levels get too high.
Your blood sugar levels may be high if….
- Your body isn’t able to use insulin the right way. This makes it difficult for your cells to get glucose from your blood in order to make energy. This is called insulin resistance.
- Your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin to make up for the insulin resistance. As type 2 diabetes gets worse, your pancreas may make increasingly less insulin. This is called insulin deficiency.
Causes of High Blood Sugar
High blood sugar can become a problem if you:
- Skip a dose of your type 2 diabetes medicine or skip a required dose of insulin.
- Eat too much.
- Exercise less than you usually do.
- Are taking medicines that raise blood sugar as a side effect, such as sleeping pills, some anti-inflammatory medicines (corticosteroids), and some decongestants.
Type 2 Diabetes – What Happens
When you have type 2 diabetes, your ability to make insulin decreases. Your pancreas will still produce insulin, but the amount it produces will reduce over time. This will make it harder to keep your blood sugar within your target range. If your blood sugar gets too high and remains high for too long, the risk of developing other health problems increases. Over time, high blood sugar can damage many parts of your body.
Diabetes can cause you to have less feeling in your feet. This means that you could injure your feet and not know it. Blisters, ingrown toenails, small cuts, or other problems that may seem minor can quickly become more serious. Common infections can quickly become more serious when you have diabetes.
Heart and blood vessels
High blood sugar damages the lining of blood vessels. This can lead to strokes and other heart related diseases and concerns.
The kidneys contain many tiny blood vessels. These are responsible for filtering waste from your blood. High blood sugar can destroy these blood vessels. The symptoms of kidney damage often don’t become apparent until the problem is out of control.
People who have a BMI of 35 and above are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people with a BMI of under under 24, according to some recent studies.
Regular exercise is extremely important to the prevention and control of diabetes. If you take insulin, it will help your pancreas to work more efficiently and assist with your blood glucose control. Getting to the gym, going for a walk or jog, playing sport or taking part in any other physical activity will all help to keep diabetes and its effects at bay.
Exercise also provides huge benefits for people who already have diabetes. It helps lower blood sugar levels, and it helps the body use insulin. This means that people with type 1 diabetes who exercise regularly may require less insulin, and that people with type 2 diabetes who exercise may be able to control their diabetes without medication.
Choosing healthy foods and being active will help you manage your blood glucose levels and control your body weight. A healthy diet for people with diabetes is basically the same as it is for those without the condition. A healthy diet can be enjoyed by the whole family, so there is no need to prepare separate meals or buy special foods. Avoid all those take out meals and meals that are high in saturated fats, GI carbs and useless calories, and get organised. Eat a healthy diet consisting of lots of fresh vegetables, moderate amounts of fruit, plenty of clean protein and good fats rich in omegas.
So, here’s to a healthy lifestyle – the best way to stay diabetes free!