diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the regulation of blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by an increase in insulin resistance that prevents insulin from fulfilling its role in the body. In Australia, 1.2 million people are living which contributed to 11% of deaths (16,700) in 2018.
How Type 2 Diabetes Affects the Body
After a meal, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose molecules, which are stored in muscle cells with the help of insulin. In people with type 2 diabetes, glucose molecules are unable to enter the muscle, leading to a rise in blood sugar levels. This increases the risk of complications such as tissue injury to nerves, blood vessels, and vital organs like the eyes, kidneys, or heart, and can result in metabolic disease and associated co-morbidities.
Who is at Risk of Developing Diabetes?
There is no single cause of type 2 diabetes, but certain factors can significantly increase your risk. Non-modifiable risk factors such as age, gender, and family history cannot be altered. Modifiable risk factors like diet and exercise can be influenced. The AUSDRISK tool is used to screen for risk.
Managing Type 2 Diabetes with Lifestyle Changes
Managing type 2 diabetes requires a healthy lifestyle. Portion control and carbohydrate counting can have a significant impact on blood glucose fluctuations throughout the day. People with type 2 diabetes may need to take insulin injections or sulphonylureas, and hypoglycemia is a constant risk.
Eating Well for Diabetes
Accurately measuring portion sizes and carbohydrate quantities with metric cups or scales is crucial to balance blood glucose levels in the presence of other lifestyle variables. A balanced meal should contain starches or grain-based carbohydrates, some protein, and unsaturated fat, while foods with more than 5 grams of fiber per 100 grams serve typically have a low glycaemic index, providing a steady supply of glucose over time, reducing the risk of large spikes and drops in blood glucose levels.
The Role of Exercise
Regular physical activity is essential for effective diabetes management. Exercise helps the body use insulin more efficiently and mitigates the rise in blood glucose levels. Structured exercises and incidental activity, such as housework and gardening, can have an immense impact on blood glucose levels. Accredited exercise physiologists can help develop a specific exercise routine for individuals
Can Type 2 Diabetes be Reversed?
While there is no cure for type 2 diabetes, studies show that it is possible to reverse the condition through dietary modifications and weight loss. This can lead to normal blood glucose levels without the need for medication or insulin. However, it does not mean that is completely gone. People with type 2 diabetes must continue to manage the condition through a healthy lifestyle.
Getting the Right Advice
Accredited exercise physiologists and credentialled educators can provide individualized advice for people to achieve their health and well-being goals. They are university-qualified health professionals who understand the complex relationship between exercise, carbohydrates, insulin, stress, illness, and blood glucose. To find a qualified professional near you, click here.