Type 2 Diabetes: Symptoms, Causes, Diet, Treatment, and More
Today, type 2 diabetes is one of the most common chronic conditions in the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 30.3 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes.
Know what's the saddest fact about this? Is it preventable to a great extent. With a few lifestyle changes and by maintaining a healthy diet, you can prevent the development of this disease altogether.
But it requires a bit of extra effort, and that's probably why most people don't bother. So, in this article, we will discuss type 2 diabetes in detail - right from the symptoms to its management options.
What Exactly is Type 2 Diabetes?
There are actually 2 types of diabetes, type 1 and the aforementioned type 2. Type 1 is characterized by an absolute insulin deficiency, while in type 2 diabetes, the body still produces insulin but it's unable to use it properly.
In type 2 diabetes, the cells in the pancreas produce insulin, but the body is resistant to its effects. When this happens, blood sugar levels rise and you develop type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that can lead to serious health complications if left untreated. But the good news is, with proper treatment and management, it can be controlled quite effectively (and even reversed).
What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 Diabetes is considered a lifestyle disease. In other words, it's caused by a combination of poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. However, there are certain risk factors that can make you more susceptible to developing this condition.
Some of the most common risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:
Obesity or Being Overweight
Fat has a way of interfering with the body's ability to use insulin effectively. So, if you're obese or even just overweight, you have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Not only that, but insulin is primarily a storage hormone, and being overweight can lead to insulin resistance.
If you have a family member with type 2 diabetes, you're more likely to develop it yourself. This is because type 2 diabetes has a genetic component as well. The odds are greater if a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, etc.) has type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is more common in older adults. As you age, your pancreas produces less insulin and your cells become more resistant to its effects. This is why the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases with age. However, the incidence of the disease has been increasing exponentially in younger age groups as well.
Certain ethnic groups are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. For instance, people of Native American, Hispanic, African American, or Asian descent have a greater chance of developing the condition, when compared to Caucasians.
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the main reasons behind the increasing incidence of type 2 diabetes. When you don't get enough physical activity, your muscles become less efficient at using insulin. This can lead to insulin resistance and, eventually, type 2 diabetes.
An unhealthy diet is another one of the major contributors to the development of type 2 diabetes. A diet that's high in refined carbs, unhealthy fats, and added sugars can increase your risk of developing the condition since over time they lead to insulin resistance and poor sensitivity.
Chronic stress can also lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. This is because stress causes the release of certain hormones that can interfere with the proper functioning of the pancreas and other organs.
What Are The Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes?
Some people never realize that they have diabetes because the symptoms develop gradually (over months or years) and can be quite subtle. In fact, many people with type 2 diabetes don't find out they have it until they develop complications from it.
That being said, here are some of the most common symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes:
Fatigue plagues diabetics of all types, but is especially common in those with type 2 diabetes. This is because when your blood sugar is high, it causes a build-up of glucose in the bloodstream which can lead to dehydration. When you're dehydrated, you feel tired.
Plus, the fact that insulin becomes inefficient in type 2 diabetes can also lead to fatigue, because it's not able to properly transport sugar to the cells for energy.
High levels of blood sugar cause the body to produce more urine. This is because when there's too much glucose in the bloodstream, the kidneys filter it out and try to get rid of it through the urine. Glucose attracts water, and this is one of the reasons why frequent urination occurs.
Frequent urination also leads to thirst, because as you get rid of all that water through your urine, you become dehydrated. There is an interplay between fatigue, frequent urination, and thirst because as you become more dehydrated, you feel more tired, and this causes you to drink more fluids and urinate even more.
Blurred vision is another common symptom of type 2 diabetes. This is because when there's too much sugar in the bloodstream, it causes damage to the blood vessels in the eye, sometimes leading to blockage of these vessels.
Weight loss is another symptom that may seem counterintuitive, but it actually makes sense. When your body can't properly utilize the insulin (and hence, glucose), it starts breaking down stored fat for energy. This results in weight loss, even though you may be eating more than usual from hunger and cravings.
When you have diabetes, your body has a harder time fighting off infection. This is because diabetes damages the blood vessels and nerves, which interferes with the healing process. As a result, wounds take longer to heal.
If you notice any of these symptoms, you must see a doctor as soon as possible. They can perform a blood test to check your blood sugar levels and confirm whether or not you have diabetes, or are at risk of the disease.
What is The Treatment For Type 2 Diabetes?
While there are quite a few prescription meds that exist to assist with the management of type 2 diabetes, including insulin shots as well, there is the real possibility of adverse effects or hypoglycemia occurring if you're not extremely careful.
That being said, there are also effective interventional treatment steps that you can take in the absence of medication. These include:
While exercise of any type is great, resistance exercise, in particular, is what has the greatest impact on reversing type 2 diabetes. This is because it helps to increase insulin sensitivity, especially in the muscles. In turn, glucose is shuttled to muscles that assist with mitochondrial energy production, and not into fat cells.
The more muscle you have, the more glucose (and calories) your cells utilize to produce energy. This is beneficial as it prevents excessive sugar from remaining in the bloodstream for prolonged periods of time.
It makes sense to try to maximize lean muscle accrual- using creatine with Peak ATP in a product like Foundation is an excellent way to rapidly gain muscle.
Aerobic exercise, otherwise known as good old cardio, is also important for those with type 2 diabetes, as it helps to promote weight loss and improve insulin sensitivity. While aerobic exercise tends to burn a greater amount of fat when done at a steady state, glucose is also consumed at a rapid rate.
What Is The Diet For Type 2 Diabetes?
You need to modify your diet if you have type 2 diabetes. The goal is to control your blood sugar levels by eating foods that don't spike your blood sugar. You'll also want to eat foods that are high in fiber, as this helps with insulin sensitivity and glucose control.
Some of the best foods for people with type 2 diabetes include:
These include leafy greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and more. They're low in calories and carbs, and high in fiber.
You'll want to focus on lean protein sources, such as chicken, fish, legumes, and eggs. Collagen protein is also a great protein powder that isn't insulinogenic (meaning it doesn't affect insulin levels).
Nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil are all great sources of healthy fats.
These include quinoa, sweet potato, oats, and legumes.
While you'll want to avoid refined carbs, sugary drinks, and trans fats, it's also important to moderate your intake of fruit, as some fruits can cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
But, we do not recommend eliminating all carbs from the diet. Doing so too fast can lead to hypoglycemia, which is extremely detrimental to health and can lead to coma or death.
Cinnamon, Alpha Lipoic Acid, and Chromium
These 3 nutrients have all been shown to help improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. Adding them to your diet is a great way to help manage type 2 diabetes.
Fortify is a whole-food multivitamin/ multimineral supplement that contains the important trace mineral chromium and can help assist with insulin sensitivity and glucose control.
How Can Type 2 Diabetes Be Prevented?
To an extent, yes it can be prevented. But there is no way to confer absolute prevention, as genetics and other factors play a role too.
That being said, the most effective way to prevent type 2 diabetes is through diet and exercise. As we mentioned earlier, resistance training is especially beneficial, as it helps to increase insulin sensitivity.
Aerobic exercise is also important for weight loss and preventing obesity- a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
What Are The Complications of Type 2 Diabetes?
This is where things get messy. Many people are unable to achieve decent control of their blood glucose and insulin levels. The result is a worsening of symptoms associated with the debilitating disease, such as :
- Diabetic ketoacidosis
- Kidney damage
- Heart disease
Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition that should not be taken lightly. If you think you may be at risk, please consult with a healthcare professional.
If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, know that you are not alone. Millions of people around the world suffer from this condition. But, with the right diet, exercise, and some well-timed supplements, you can live a healthy life.
Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes does not have to be a death sentence. With the right lifestyle choices, you can manage the condition and live a healthy life- even reverse it if you're aggressive and address it soon enough.
But, it is important to be vigilant about your health and to make sure that you are monitoring your blood sugar levels and get regular checkups at appropriate intervals.