03 Apr Type 2 Diabetic Basics
Type Two Diabetes for Dummies:
All you need to know about Type Two Diabetes and the basic information surrounding the most common, preventable ailment that is plaguing almost half of American adults today.
Today, over 29 million people living in the United States have type 2 diabetes mellitus, and over 8 million of those Americans are undiagnosed with this preventable disease. Although there are different types of diabetes mellitus, the most common is type 2, which is caused by factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise, genetics, ethnicity, and obesity, to name a few. The likelihood that an American will develop diabetes in their lifetime is now 40%. Those astonishing numbers are not only concerning to our health and wallet, but increase ones risk of mortality. The typical conditions associated with type 2 diabetes include: elevated glucose levels, high fasting insulin levels, extreme thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision and fatigue. Although there are ways to treat and prevent type 2 diabetes, many diabetics opt for prescription drugs as medication to cope with or regulate their symptoms. However, natural supplementation, proper diet, and exercise can help to regulate type two diabetes and also prevent prediabetes.
- Pathophysiology of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a complex, chronic disease involving the body’s metabolism and is characterized by a combination of insulin resistance and inadequate insulin secretion by pancreatic beta cells, which causes an excess of glucose levels in the blood. Glucose is needed for cellular energy and the metabolism of glucose is regulated by several hormones. To put in simpler terms, after the digestive tract breaks down a meal, carbohydrates are converted into glucose, which is the form of sugar in the bloodstream that gives the brain and muscles energy. With the assistance of insulin, which is the hormone that is made in the pancreas and regulates the amount of glucose in the blood, the body is able to efficiently absorb glucose so that it can be transported to cells and converted to energy. The release of insulin is triggered by the pancreas following the digestion of a carbohydrate-containing meal. Once digested and blood glucose concentration is high, insulin is secreted from the beta (β) cells of the pancreas to stimulate the transport of glucose from the blood into the cells of tissues. On the other hand, when glucose is too low, glucagon is secreted from the alpha (α) cells of the pancreas to stimulate the release of glucose that is stored as liver glycogen. Glucagon and insulin work together to balance glucose homeostasis. Diabetics do not properly use insulin, so their cells begin to starve for energy, despite high blood sugar levels. Unlike type 1 diabetes, where the beta cells no longer produce insulin, type 2 diabetics make insulin, but it does not properly convert glucose into energy, which is why glucose levels rise. Being resistant to insulin causes spiked levels, thereby leading to elevated fatty acids and decreased glucose transport into muscle cells. In order for type 2 diabetes to occur, both insulin resistance and inadequate insulin secretion must exist. The glucagon-secreting alpha cell (which breaks down glycogen to glucose in the liver) and the insulin-secreting beta cell become lost in type 2 diabetes, therefore leading to hyperglucagonemia and hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia, which is elevated blood sugar levels above 99 mg/dL after at least 8 hours of fasting, causes further health complications. The focus of treatment for all diabetics is to control their blood sugar levels, which is often managed by prescription medication, proper eating, and exercise.
- Etiology of Type 2 Diabetes
The etiology, or cause, of type 2 diabetes is much more comprehensible than the pathophysiology of the disease. Luckily, type 2 diabetes is preventable because the disease is typically triggered by a chronic unhealthy lifestyle. Consuming an excess of processed foods, which are converted to glucose after digestion occurs, the pancreas works hard to produce extra insulin to maintain normal glucose levels. Over time, the person may no longer adequately secrete insulin, which leads to obesity. 90% of patients with type 2 diabetes are obese. Lack of physical activity and poor diet choices are the biggest culprit for the development of type 2 diabetes. However, genetics also may play a role in the etiology of type 2 diabetes. Another indication of whether someone has type 2 diabetes is by the measuring HbA1c levels, which refers to their glycated hemoglobin. It develops when hemoglobin, a protein within red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout the body, joins with glucose in the blood to become “glycated”. By measuring HbA1c, one is able to obtain their weekly, average blood sugar levels. Other factors including ethnicity, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, abnormal glucose production, cardiovascular disease, and those over age 45 are also at higher risk. People with a fasting glucose level of 100 to 125 mg/dL have impaired fasting glucose (IFG), or prediabetes. A level of 126 mg/dL or above, confirmed by repeating the test on another day, purports the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus.
There are options to help treat diabetes, other than glucose regulating pills. Losing weight, and proper diet are key to managing type 2 diabetes. Prolean Wellness’ programs, along with hCg, are also effective in controlling blood sugar levels and have successfully reduced prediabetic numbers in patients with high glucose, insulin, and HbA1C levels.
Written by: Meghan Doherty, B.S. Nutrition Science