Diabetes Awareness Week was on the 13-19 November 2012. We’ve heard for years that many of the factors leading to type 2 diabetes are lifestyle related, so why aren’t we listening?
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body either does not produce enough insulin or the cells don’t use the insulin effectively. Anyone can get type 2 diabetes but its highest incidence is in people over 45 years of age. It is also more common among people who are overweight.
There is also a condition known as pre-diabetes, which occurs when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. If left untreated, pre-diabetes may develop into type 2 diabetes within five to 10 years. In addition to the risk of developing diabetes, people with pre-diabetes have an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
Glucose, which comes from the carbohydrate-based foods we eat, is the main source of energy for the body. If the body is working as it should, your digestive system will break down the carbohydrates to glucose, which then enters the bloodstream.
The pancreas then releases the hormone insulin, which is responsible for moving the glucose from the bloodstream into the cells so it can be converted to energy.
With type 1 diabetes, though the cause is not yet known, it is thought that something like a viral infection triggers the immune system to destroy the insulin-making cells.
People with type 2 diabetes are usually insulin resistant. This means their body makes insulin but the insulin is not working as well as it should, so the body must make more. Eventually it can’t make enough to keep the glucose balance correct. Type 2 diabetes is usually lifestyle related and is caused by factors such as:
- Poor diet, including low protein and fibre intake and high intake of refined products and sugar.
- Obesity and fat distribution, where fat is mostly located in the abdominal region in men and the lower body in women.
- Sedentary lifestyle, particularly exercising less than three times a week.
- Stress, from either a physical injury or emotional disturbance.
- Other causes include some infections, hypertension, hereditary predisposition and some drugs.