Type 2 Diabetes

What is it?
Diabetes is a disease where the body has trouble converting food into energy for the cells to use because of a problem with a hormone, insulin. Type 2 diabetes is the result of insulin resistance, as opposed to an inability of the pancreas to produce insulin, as is found in type 1 diabetes. Insulin resistance is where the insulin lacks the ability to lower blood sugar, even though there is usually plenty of insulin present in the blood stream. Insulin is a hormone that is secreted naturally by the pancreas. Its job in the body is to metabolize (or break down) sugar in the bloodstream.

Risk Factors
The cause of type 2 diabetes is not known. However, several risk factors are known. You are more likely to have type 2 diabetes if:

  • You have a family history of diabetes
  • You are overweight
  • You have high blood pressure
  • You are over 40 years old
  • You have had a newborn baby weighing more than 9 pounds
  • You have high blood sugar levels when pregnant
  • You are African-American, Hispanic, or Native American

Treatment for type 2 diabetes tends to include eating nutritious, low fat foods, and maintaining a healthy weight. If the disease cannot be controlled through diet changes alone, then you will probably need to take oral hypoglycemic agents, which are different from insulin. Hypoglycemic agents help the insulin to move sugar from the bloodstream into cells, thereby overcoming the inability of the insulin to lower blood sugar levels.

A healthy diet for a patient with diabetes should be high in starches and fiber while remaining low in sugars, salt, and fats. Many people with type 2 diabetes who eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight are able to avoid the need to take medication. However, even if one does not need to take medication, the diabetes is still present. No matter how you treat it, (i.e. by diet and exercise or by medication) you will still have diabetes. It will not "go away."

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