Understanding Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes has two forms, Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little to no insulin; it is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes. “Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose get into your cells to give them energy.” (medlineplus.gov) Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, but is more common in children and young adults. Unfortunately, this form of diabetes is not preventable and the cause is not known. It is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system mistakenly destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas.
With Type 2 diabetes, a person either doesn’t produce enough insulin, or it resists insulin. (cdc.gov) This form of diabetes is also known as insulin-resistant diabetes. As stated above, insulin is needed to help glucose (blood sugar) enter into your cells to give them energy; with insulin-resistant diabetes, the cells don’t respond normally to insulin. When this happens, the pancreas starts to produce more insulin to try and get the cells to respond. Over time, the pancreas cannot keep up with the insulin production, which leads to increased blood sugar setting you up for prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes. (cdc.gov) Having too much blood sugar is damaging to your body, which can lead to other series diseases such as heart disease, vision loss, stroke, kidney disease and lower limb amputation.
Of the two forms, Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes. There are approximately 29 million people in the US with this form. Symptoms can be so mild that people can have it and not know it. Unlike Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 is preventable and for some people, it is reversible through weight loss and lifestyle change.
The Role Of Obesity in Type 2 Diabetes
In my research, I found it’s unclear why being overweight or obese puts you at a higher risk for developing insulin-resistant diabetes. It is known that more than 87% of adults with this form of diabetes are overweight or obese. It could be that carrying excess fat causes the cells to change making the cells insulin-resistant. As these cells change and stop allowing glucose in, the glucose builds up in the blood causing increased levels of blood sugar.
Research shows when you lose weight and become more physically active, you can help control your blood sugar levels and prevent or delay health problems. A clinical study called the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) found “that losing just 5 to 7 percent of your body weight and doing moderately intense exercise (like brisk walking) for 150 minutes a week may prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes.” (niddk.nih.gov)
Understanding Your Risks
Type 2 diabetes symptoms can develop over a long time and can also go unnoticed for a period of time. Knowing your risk factors and understanding the symptoms can help you prevent or delay health problems. Your family history and genes can play a big role in your chances of developing this obesity related disease. Other risk factors include age (45 or older), low activity level (sedentary lifestyle), excess fat around your waist, smoking, high blood pressure (even if treated and under control), and low LDL (or good) cholesterol. However, the more of these that apply to you, the higher your chances are of developing the disease.
Taking Control of Your Health
So how can you prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes?
- Lose 5-7% of your body weight.
- Eat nutrient dense foods.
- Start an exercise program.
- Seek help from a dietitian.
- Manage stress.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Know the symptoms and seek medical help to get tested if you’re unsure.
If you are overweight or obese, I highly recommend researching the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes. As noted, symptoms can be mild and unnoticeable for a long time. A simple blood test can identify if you are prediabetic or have insulin-resistant diabetes. Knowing the facts and risk factors for this preventable disease can change your life for your life. In health – Jennifer