Type 2 Diabetes Overview

Type 2 diabetes develops when the body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas stops producing enough insulin. In Type 2 diabetes, the insulin process to deliver glucose to the body’s cells doesn’t work well. Instead of moving into your cells, sugar builds up in your bloodstream. As blood sugar levels increase, the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas produce more insulin. Eventually, these cells become impaired and can’t make enough insulin to meet the body’s demands.

A person is Type 2 diabetic when the fasting blood sugar level is higher than prediabetes levels (higher than 125 mm/dl).

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes (90%). It was previously referred to as “non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus” (NIDDM) or “adult- onset diabetes”.

In Type 2 diabetes, medications or lifestyle changes are the options. It is important to find a doctor who does NOT jump straight to medications as many misinformed doctors are unfortunately trained to do.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Lifestyle changes are far preferable to medications to avoid unnecessary dependence upon medications, their side effects, and negative long-term consequences.

Type 2 has increased dramatically over the past five years. It is more common among older people (45 and older) than in other segments of the population, but it is affecting children at increasingly alarming rates.

Traditional medicine treats Type 2 diabetes with lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, weight loss, stop smoking, quality rest), medications (pills), and with or without insulin (injections). However, medications and insulin are NOT the best approaches as insulin and some oral medications can cause the dangerous reverse effect of low blood sugar and have many other adverse side effects.

When glucose builds up in your blood instead of going into cells, it can cause two problems:

  • Your cells may be starved for energy and you feel weak or fatigued all the time.
  • Over time, high blood glucose levels may cause damage to the body, which includes your eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, and can cause death.

For most people, Type 2 gets worse over time but that is not a given. A person can choose to take a natural path to normal blood sugar levels. Many people with Type 2 control their blood glucose through healthy eating and being active.

Researchers don’t fully understand why some people develop Type 2 diabetes and others don’t. Carbohydrate digestion is strongly abnormal and other causes and symptoms of diabetes are present. It’s clear that certain factors increase the risk, including:

  • Weight – Being overweight is a primary risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. The more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to insulin. However, you don’t have to be overweight to develop Type 2 diabetes.
  • Fat distribution – If your body stores fat primarily in your abdomen, your risk of Type 2 diabetes is greater than if your body stores fat elsewhere, such as your hips and thighs.
  • Lack of exercise – The less active you are, the greater your risk of Type 2 diabetes. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up blood glucose as energy, and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.
  • Complex carbohydrates – Potatoes, rice, bread, white flour, pasta, etc., are associated with diabetes.
  • Simple carbs – Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks in excess is associated with diabetes as are processed foods containing high amounts of sugars.
  • Saturated fats and transfats – Excess fat consumption in fried foods, salad dressings, and unhealthy oils such as soybean, vegetable, corn, and cottonseed oils is associated with Type 2 diabetes. It is far better to use healthy oils, such as coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Lack of sleep – Good rest is important for proper body function, including insulin function.
  • Stress – Stress, both physical and mental, can send your blood sugar soaring.
  • Smoking – Smoking is especially risky. The nicotine in cigarettes makes blood vessels harden and narrow, curbing blood flow around your body. Since diabetes makes you more likely to get heart disease, you don’t want the extra risk that comes from smoking.
  • Family history – The risk of Type 2 diabetes increases if a parent or sibling has diabetes.
  • Race – It’s unclear why, but people of certain races including Blacks, Hispanics, American Indians, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.
  • Age – The risk of Type 2 diabetes increases as you age, especially after age 45. That’s because people tend to exercise less, lose muscle mass, and gain weight as they age. However, diabetes is also increasing dramatically among children, adolescents, and younger adults.
  • Prediabetes – Prediabetes is a condition in which your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Left untreated or undiagnosed, prediabetes will likely progress to Type 2 diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes – If a woman develops gestational diabetes when pregnant, the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increases. If a woman gives birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds, there is an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome – For women, having polycystic ovary syndrome, a common condition characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth, and obesity, increases the risk for diabetes.
  • High cholesterol drugs (statins) – These drugs are known to cause diabetes.
  • High blood pressure drugs (hypertension) – Diabetes is commonly associated with heart disease. High blood pressure and hypertension drugs are an additional risk for diabetes.

Type 2 usually develops slowly and the previously noted risks or causes may be subtle or even absent.

People with Type 2 diabetes can and should avoid drugs and therapies that increase levels of insulin. Type 2 is marked by elevated levels of both insulin and glucose. Instead, treatment should focus on strategies to increase insulin sensitivity through lifestyle changes such as weight loss, diet, and exercise.

SYMPTOMS: Type 2 diabetes symptoms often develop slowly. In fact, a person can have Type 2 diabetes for years and not know it. Look for:

  • Increased thirst and frequent urination. Excess sugar building up in your bloodstream causes fluid to be pulled from the tissues. This may leave a person thirsty. As a result, they may drink and urinate more than usual. The body attempts to dilute high blood sugar in the blood by drawing water from the cells so it can be excreted in the urine. This condition is known as hyperglycemia and results in high levels of glucose in the urine.
  • Increased hunger – Without enough insulin to move sugar into the body’s cells, muscles, and organs become depleted of energy. This triggers intense hunger.
  • Weight loss – Despite eating more than usual to relieve hunger, a person may lose weight. Without the ability to metabolize glucose, the body uses alternative fuels stored in muscle and fat. Calories are lost as excess glucose is released in the urine.
  • Chronic Fatigue – If the body’s cells are deprived of sugar, a person may become tired and irritable.
  • Blurred vision – If blood sugar is too high, fluid can be pulled from the lenses of your eyes. This may affect the ability to focus.
  • Slow-healing sores or frequent infections – Type 2 diabetes affects the ability to heal and resist infections.
  • Areas of darkened skin – Some people with Type 2 diabetes have patches of dark, velvety skin in the folds and creases of their bodies, usually in the armpits and neck. This condition, called acanthosis nigricans, may be a sign of insulin resistance.

How Is Type 2 Diagnosed? … Your doctor can perform one of three different blood tests or you can self-test at home:

  1. Fasting Plasma Glucose Test: Measures your blood sugar after an 8- hour fast. If your blood sugar level is higher than normal (higher than 101 mg/dl) but lower than the diabetes diagnosis level (125 mg/dl or above), you are at prediabetes levels. Higher than prediabetes levels (126 mg/dl or above) and you are at Type 2 diabetes levels.
  2. Oral Glucose Tolerance test: Records your blood sugar after an 8-hour fast and again 2 hours after you have a very sweet drink. If your blood sugar is higher than 126 mg/dl, 2 hours after the test, you may have Type 2 diabetes.
  3. Hemoglobin A1C Test: Looks at your average blood sugar for the past 2 to 3 months. It can be used to see if your diabetes is under control or to diagnose the disease.
  4. Blood Sugar Self-testing at Home: To save medical expenses or to avoid the possibility of having diabetes or prediabetes showing on your medical records, you can do self-testing at home.

Type 2 is treatable without drugs or insulin, but requires careful medical supervision. An aggressive nutritional and lifestyle protocol is needed to reverse Type 2 quickly without the need for risky drugs. While nutrition and lifestyle changes are far preferable to the use of medications and insulin, many uninformed doctors go straight to drugs.

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