Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes starts with an organ in the body called the pancreas. The pancreas is only about 6 inches long but its functions are vital for survival. The pancreas has two primary functions. Its first role is to release enzymes into the gastrointestinal tract to help with digestion. Its second role is to release insulin. Insulin allows glucose into the cells were is can be used as energy or stored for later in the liver, muscles and kidneys.
Interestingly, 99% of the pancreas function revolves around releasing enzymes to help with digestion. Meaning insulin is a very small part of its role.
So a 6 inch organ, of which only 1% of its function is dedicated to controlling blood glucose levels, dictates our blood glucose levels.
What is type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes develops when the body becomes insulin resistant. Insulin resistance is when the insulin produced by the pancreas no longer works as efficiently. This is because insulin is like a key. The body’s cells are like locks. Insulin opens the locks and allows glucose to enter the cells giving you energy. In a healthy body this process works fine. With type 2 diabetes, fat clogs up the locks. Therefore, not as many keys fit the locks. As a result, less locks open and blood glucose levels begin to rise.
Sensing a need for more insulin the brain tells the pancreas to produce more. The pancreas produces more insulin but this response is futile because the insulin is not working as efficiently. Over time, the pancreas can begin to become over worked and thus begin to wear out. At this point the condition will significantly worsen.
Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. In other words, it gets worse over time. However, lifestyle changes can make dramatic improvements in the condition and even in some cases, push it into remission.
What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
If you’re reading this you have likely experienced these. The symptoms for type 2 come on gradually. They include weight loss, thirst, dry mouth, blurred vision, genital itching, tiredness and fatigue amongst others.
The person developing type 2 diabetes may not notice any of these symptoms because the disease has a slow onset. 12.3 million people are currently at risk of diabetes in the UK.
What causes type 2 diabetes?
The simple answer is, weight gain in 90% of cases. Fat clogging the cells prevents insulin working. Therefore the best treatment is weight loss. The remaining 10% of people will have a genetic or age related element but usually this does not manifest until old age.
How is type 2 diabetes managed?
Managing through diet only may be your first option. Then as time progresses your GP may offer a variety of oral medications to help reduce your blood glucose levels. The next option may be a once daily or once weekly injection, which is not insulin. Finally, you may be offered insulin once the condition progresses to a certain point.
Having a good understanding and diet will help you manage the condition more effectively. I have previously blogged about this here.
For a better understanding of diabetes here is a video:
Note: the video covers type 1 and type 2.