What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 Diabetes is caused by high levels of sugar in the blood, because of an inability to put sugar from the blood into the cells of our muscles and organs.
In type 2 diabetes (from here on in T2D) the pancreas gets tired and the beta cells are unable to make enough insulin. In T2D, you also get increasing insulin resistance. That is when your cells in your muscles and body are less receptive to insulin. These both cause blood sugar levels to rise.
And how is that different from Type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is caused by high levels of sugar in the blood because there is no insulin to put sugar from the blood into the cells of our muscles and organs.
Type 1 diabetes is an auto immune disease that’s usually diagnosed when a person is young. An auto immune disease is when the body’s own immune system recognises a part of the body as an invader and attacks it. In the case of type 1 diabetes, the body’s defence system attacks the cells in the pancreas that make Insulin. These cells are called the Beta cells. The beta cells are destroyed by our immune system and when they are completely destroyed they can no longer make and release insulin. This causes very high sugar levels in the blood and people with type 1 diabetes need to inject themselves daily and after each meal with insulin.
Are there other different types of Diabetes?
Gestational Diabetes – is when you have diabetes during pregnancy. Women who have gestational diabetes have a higher risk of getting T2D later in life.
Pre-Diabetes – is when your blood sugar (HbA1c) is between 40 and 49 mmol/L. 39 and below is normal 50 and above is diabetic.
MODY – or Mature Onset Diabetes of the Young – a genetic condition that causes Diabetes and is generally diagnosed in young adults. It is not auto-immune, like Type 1 and is often misdiagnosed as Type 2.
Diabetes Insipidus – a condition that is caused by the body being unable to process fluids and leads to excessive thirst and urination. Unlike the other types of diabetes, it has nothing to do with sugar metabolism.
What causes Diabetes?
Diabetes is often described as a lifestyle disease. A lifestyle disease is generally coined that because there are factors within a persons lifestyle that can contribute to the risk of getting a certain disease, such as diet and exercise. Type 2 diabetes is also thought to be correlated with higher weights. BUT we know that people can improve their glycemic control without losing weight. AND we know that correlation does not equal causation. Just because two things are observed to happen together, does not mean that one caused the other.
Does that mean it’s my fault for getting diabetes?
Just because the food we eat can contribute to a persons’ disease risk does not mean the individual is responsible for whether they have diabetes or not. There are so many other factors that contribute to a persons chance of getting an illness that they have no control over, such as:
- age – diabetes risk increases with age – the older you are the higher your risk.
- gender – men are biologically more susceptible to getting diabetes, than women.
- ethnicity – some ethnic groups have a higher susceptibility of getting diabetes, due to genetics
- genetics! – you are more likely to get diabetes if someone else in your family also has it.
- socio-economic determinants of health – poverty, education, food environment, work environment, access to food, food desserts, affordability of food, access to health care, stress, discrimination, racism. All these things effect a persons risk of getting diabetes and impacts how soon they are diagnosed, treatments they are offered and how they are treated within the medical system.
Your lifestyle factors, such as the food you eat, your culture around food and the exercise you do is hugely affected by socio-economic determinants of health. Your access to affordable food, access to safe places to walk or move, your income which effects the choices you can make all impact on the types and amounts of food you put in your mouth and how much you move.
Other topics covered:
- Tests for Diabetes
- How food effects diabetes
- Insulin resistance
- Insulin sensitivity
- Weight and diabetes
- Ketogenic diets and diabetes
- Low carb diets and diabetes
- Managing diabetes with food
- Sugar and Fruit
- Food and meal ideas
- How to build a meal
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