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Understanding Type 2 DiabetesUnderstanding Type 2 Diabetes


Understanding Type 2 Diabetes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predict that at least 1 in 3 people will develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. By gaining a better understanding of type 2 diabetes, you can take the necessary steps to reduce your risk.

Blood Glucose and Type 2 Diabetes

Blood glucose, or blood sugar, is the amount of sugar in your blood. It serves as a primary source of energy for the body. When you have type 2 diabetes, blood glucose increases above normal levels, a condition called hyperglycemia (high blood glucose).

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps blood glucose get from your blood into your cells. With type 2 diabetes your body doesn't use insulin well, often called insulin resistance. The pancreas increases insulin production to help lower the rising blood glucose, but eventually, it cannot make enough. As a result, blood glucose levels increase to dangerous levels. When left untreated, this can cause many health issues including blindness, kidney failure, foot complications, heart disease, and stroke.

Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are not the same. With type 1 diabetes, there is a lack of insulin available because the immune system attacks the pancreas and the cells that produce insulin are destroyed. While type 1 diabetes can develop in adulthood, it is much more commonly diagnosed in youth. There is currently no way to prevent type 1 diabetes. Research shows type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed. While both diseases can be related to family history and genetics, type 1 diabetes results from an autoimmune disorder, while type 2 diabetes is often linked to unhealthy behaviors like a sedentary lifestyle.

How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Being overweight and a lack of physical activity are believed to be major contributors to the insulin resistance that leads to type 2 diabetes. Research shows that losing weight and getting active can cut your risk in half. A moderate weight loss of 10 to 15 pounds, or just 5 to 7 percent of your body weight, is enough to reduce your risk. Regular exercise improves your cells’ sensitivity to insulin, helping glucose move from the bloodstream to cells throughout your body. As a result, this helps promote healthier blood glucose levels and reduces your risk for diabetes. Just 150 minutes of exercise per week has been shown to reduce risk. Choose a combination of moderate-intensity activities, such as walking and strength training.


Lori Rice, M.S., is a nutritional scientist and author with a passion for healthy cooking, exercise physiology, and food photography.
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