What is Type 2 Diabetes?
In Type 2 Diabetes, the pancreas does produce insulin, but for some reason, the body can’t use it efficiently, so even though there is insulin in adequate amounts, blood glucose levels still rise above the normal range. Fortunately in many cases, Type 2 Diabetes can be controlled by patients maintaining an ideal weight (many people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight). Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes usually consists of, a proper diet, reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing physical activity. In some cases, people with Type 2 Diabetes need oral medications or pills and could even require insulin.
Type 2 Diabetes, is also known as “adult onset diabetes” because it usually occurs in people over 40 years of age, although cases have increased recently for adolescents and children, due to the high incidence of childhood obesity.
People with Type 2 Diabetes, in most cases are overweight or obese, as fat cells (adipocytes), which accumulate in excess in the body (especially in the abdomen), make the cells resistant to insulin or glucose intolerant. This means they lose sensitivity to insulin and cannot properly metabolize glucose; this is known as Metabolic Syndrome or Insulin Resistance Syndrome. At that time, blood glucose levels begin to rise and when they reach levels above normal, Type 2 Diabetes appears.
Why is insulin important?
Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas, whose function is to allow glucose to enter the cells. i.e. insulin is like a key that opens the door to the cells, allowing glucose to enter and be used as fuel for energy, maintaining the blood glucose levels within the normal range (70-100mg/dl).
In people with type 2 Diabetes, insulin can’t open the cells door properly, which is why it takes more time for glucose to be used by the cells as fuel, also raising blood glucose levels (glycemia) above the normal range.
The risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes doubles with every 20% of excess weight, that is, if your ideal weight is of 60 kg (132 lb) and you currently weigh 72 kg (158 lb) you’ll have twice the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
In Type 2 Diabetes, glucose levels rise for different reasons: the mechanisms to metabolize glucose don’t function properly, the cells become insulin resistant or glucose intolerant, Alpha cells in the pancreas produce more glucagon which releases more glucose stored in the liver, and the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. There are several types of drugs to treat Type 2 Diabetes and each acts differently to lower blood glucose levels depending on the cause or causes for the rise.
The goal of people with Type 2 Diabetes should be to keep their blood glucose levels (glycemia) as close to the normal range as possible (70-110mg/dl), so they can enjoy a healthy, productive and happy life.