Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disease that occurs when the body can’t process sugars properly. During the initial stages of the illness, the body become “resistant” to insulin. Insulin is the hormone that helps the body to take sugar out of the blood. Without enough insulin, sugar builds up in the blood. This is dangerous, and the rise in blood sugar causes the symptoms of diabetes.
There is no cure for type 2 diabetes and it is usually managed with medication and lifestyle changes (such as increased physical activity and improved diet).
Type 2 diabetes used to be called “adult-onset diabetes” until children as young as ten started to be diagnosed with it. There are strong links between the rise in obesity and the rise in cases of type 2 diabetes.
How does it affect us?
According to the WHO, of those people who have been diagnosed with diabetes worldwide, 90% have type 2. Type 2 diabetes is closely linked to lack of physical activity and unhealthy diet.
Unfortunately, being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can put you at increased risk for:
- Heart disease and stroke
- Kidney disease
- Nerve damage
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Retinal damage (eye damage)
Two of the key lifestyle changes to reduce type 2 diabetes are improving your diet and being physically active.
Being overweight or obese significantly increases your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. In a recent study conducted by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), it was found that, of those people who had type 2 diabetes, over 85% were overweight or obese.
In order to reduce your risk, changing your diet can be an excellent protective factor. These small changes can make a big difference;
- Increase your intake of fruit and vegetables to 5 a day (at least)
- Reduce your intake of saturated fats. Check food labels. If there’s 5g or more per 100g in a product, put it back on the shelf.
- Reduce your intake of sugar. Again, check food labels. If there’s 10g or more per 100g, leave it behind. Avoid fizzy drinks.
Getting enough physical activity is extremely important in preventing type 2 diabetes. The WHO recommends that adults should be physically active for at least 30mins a day. For children it’s 60mins. These are the minimum.
What’s more, doing more than the recommended amount allows for greater health benefits!
These bouts of activity don’t have to be done all at once. You can break them up into sessions throughout the day e.g. 10min run in the morning + 20min brisk walk in the afternoon = 30mins.
For examples of fun and free physical activities for kids click here.
It is believed that there are a significant number of people living with type 2 diabetes who have not been diagnosed. If you are concerned about your health, please consult your doctor.
Do you feel that the health professions are doing enough to promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and how to avoid getting type 2 diabetes? Share your thoughts with us in the comments box below.