Type 2 diabetes, a disease affecting nearly 18 million Americans, is on the rise. An increased number of older Americans, high obesity rates, and sedentary lifestyles all contribute to a condition affecting 8 percent of the U.S. population. The bigger trouble? According to the American Diabetes Association, almost one quarter of those affected don’t know they have the disease. Joining us today for Martha Jefferson Healthwise is diabetes educator Barbara Martin to talk about identifying and preventing type 2 diabetes.
What is type 2 diabetes, and how is it different from other forms of the disease?
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It is a metabolic disorder resulting from the body's inability to make enough, or to properly use, insulin. Without adequate production or use of insulin, the body cannot move blood sugar into the cells. Type 1 diabetes on the other hand is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin at all.
We know that Age and obesity can contribute to having type 2 diabetes, but what actually causes the disease to occur?
The exact cause of type 2 diabetes is unknown. There does, however, appear to be a genetic factor which causes it to run in families. And, although a person can inherit a tendency to develop type 2 diabetes, it usually takes another factor, such as obesity, to bring on the disease. Other factors include race and ethnicity - African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes – and a low level of HDL or "good cholesterol".
How does having type 2 diabetes affect someone’s quality of life?
Type 2 diabetes is serious, and finding out that you have the condition can be unsettling. With proper lifestyle adjustments and treatment, however, people with diabetes can live long, healthy, happy lives. The best place to start is learning as much about the disease as you can. Then, work with your healthcare providers on finding the best blood glucose monitoring and medications for you. The American Diabetes Association has an excellent book called “A Field Guide to Type 2 Diabetes” that explains the complexities of type 2 diabetes in simple terms.
How can we avoid developing type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes may be prevented or delayed by following a program to eliminate or reduce your risk factors. Increasing exercise and losing weight are a great place to start. Exercise helps improve physical health and relieve stress. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise at least 3-5 days a week. Choosing to eat healthier foods, including 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, is also very important for diabetes prevention and overall good health.