Total Body Balance

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where there is too much glucose (sugar) in the blood.

Our body’s main source of energy is glucose, which comes from carbohydrates in the foods we eat. Simple carbohydrates are sugars, but complex carbohydrates include pasta, rice, bread, cereals, fruits, starchy vegetables and milk and yoghurt. Our body breaks these complex carbohydrates down into glucose as we digest our food, which then enters the blood stream. To enable the glucose to be used for energy in our muscles and body tissue, a hormone called insulin must be available to allow it to enter the cells.

Diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t make insulin or when the insulin that is made is not working properly. This leads to increased blood glucose levels and diabetes.

There are generally two well known types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the organ that produces insulin – the pancreas – is no longer able to do so. When this occurs the individual requires daily insulin injections, regular blood glucose tests, as well as a healthy eating plan and regular physical activity.

What is Type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes, or mature onset diabetes, is a disease that affects over 7% of Australia’s total population and is the most common form of diabetes. It is usually found in adults over the age of 45 but it is increasingly occurring at a younger age.

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by persistent high blood glucose levels (known as hyperglycaemic). Left untreated, hyperglycaemia increases the risk of heart disease and may cause serious damage to the kidneys, nerves, skin and eyes.

65-80% of people with diabetes will die from coronary heart disease; others may experience blindness, kidney disease, nerve problems, gum infections, foot ulcers and amputation.

How do you develop Type 2 Diabetes?

You can develop Type 2 Diabetes at any age, even during childhood. The exact cause of Type 2 Diabetes is unknown, although there is a strong genetic component and lifestyle factor. Eating behaviour, obesity and inactivity are also strong contributing causes. Statistically, overweight people are twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is Australia’s fastest growing chronic disease with almost 1,500 people being diagnosed every week. For every one who knows they have it, another person has it but doesn’t know it. Below are some of the signs that may indicate Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Increased urination, especially at night
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Sore(s) that do not heal

 

Finding out you have Type 2 diabetes is very important, as the complications are less common and less severe in people who have well controlled blood sugar levels. In fact, the better the control, the lower the risk of complications.

Anyone over the age of 45 years should consider getting tested, especially if you are overweight and have one or more of the above symptoms. Simply ask your doctor for a fasting blood sugar test or an oral glucose tolerance test and they will be able to tell you if you have Type 2 Diabetes or not.

Fortunately, research shows that people at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes can prevent or delay onset of the disease by losing weight through exercising regularly and making good food choices.

How does exercise help if I have Type 2 Diabetes?

Exercise helps to reduce insulin levels and lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as blood pressure, helping to control diabetes.

Inactivity can also lead to obesity, which can , lead to Type 2 Diabetes. An American study conducted on 70,000 nurses suggests that inactivity even in the absence of weight gain increases the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. This highlights the importance of some type of daily physical activity

Next Steps

If you have recently been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes you should make an appointment to see a dietitian or enrol in a diabetes education course. For more detailed information we recommend the Diabetes Australia website.

If you have Type 2 diabetes it is essential that you learn how to control and take care of yourself. You must maintain or regain a healthy weight range, be involved in some sort of low impact exercise every day and closely follow a diabetic’s meal plan. We also recommend looking after your feet, getting them checked regularly by a podiatrist. Also, be sure to have yearly triglycerides, foot, eye, kidney and gum checks.

If you need help implementing any of the above suggestions call Rachel Clark at Beleura Health Solutions.

 

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