Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed in adults over the age of 50, although it can occasionally be seen in much younger people. In early type 2 diabetes, insulin levels are actually higher than normal… while blood sugar levels are also high. This is due to the fact your body is no longer able to utilize glucose efficiently.
The function of insulin is to allow glucose, a type of simple sugar, to enter many kinds of cells where it is used as an energy source. The mechanism of insulin’s action has yet to be fully understood, but we know that insulin receptors on cell membranes are involved. In type 2 diabetes, cells develop insulin resistance causing insulin to lose its effectiveness. Sugar is then unable to enter your cells and it accumulates in your blood. The pancreatic beta cells, where insulin is made, then make more insulin to try to offset the high blood sugar. There are indications that hyperinsulinemia, or higher than normal levels of insulin, may be associated with heart and blood vessel disease and high blood pressure.
Since people with type 2 diabetes may be at risk for high blood pressure and heart disease due to hyperinsulinemia, insulin is not the treatment of choice. Instead, treatment is aimed at correcting the cause which is insulin resistance.
The mainstays of controlling type 2 diabetes are:
- weight control
Fat cells, far from being the simple fat storage places they were earlier believed to be, secrete their own controls upon glucose utilization, and can contribute to this condition. Therefore, emptying out fat cells is useful in controlling type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetics tend to be overweight or obese, and solving this problem alone can bring your blood sugar levels down to normal in many cases.
Eating plans should be calorie-restricted and low in carbohydrates and sugars. Since carbohydrates are broken down into sugars, merely avoiding sugars is not enough. The carbohydrate count for the entire day should be taken into account in the design of a healthy eating plan. A diet low in carbohydrates and simple sugars not only keeps blood sugar levels and the need for insulin down, but helps to lower your weight, since carbohydrates and sugars that are not utilized are converted to fat. Calorie restriction forces your body to utilize stored fat for energy, releasing fat from your fat cells.
The other first-line treatment is exercise. When people exercise on a regular basis, carbohydrates eaten and absorbed go directly to muscle cells, helping to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Exercise is also useful for weight loss, using fats for the increased energy requirement and building up muscle cells which utilize energy at a higher rate than other cells.
If diet and exercise fail, various types of oral medications may be prescribed by your health care provider. The aim is to reduce your need for medications by following a healthy lifestyle plan which will lead to weight loss and blood sugar levels in a healthy target range.