Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the pancreas, a very important organ in your body, fails to provide the insulin needed or it doesn’t work well enough to break down the sugar in your bloodstream. When the glucose isn’t properly broken down, your body’s cells are not able to use it. When that happens, the effects can wreak havoc. The unused glucose then stays in the bloodstream.
Does this mean that a person can be born with Type 2 diabetes? No. The main cause of this type of diabetes is eating more food than the body can use. This leads to the excess food being stored by the body as extra fat. Each pound of weight gained in turn then compounds the problem.
The pancreas is designed to utilize the food given and turn it into fuel. This fuel allows the body to meet your day to day needs. By giving the pancreas too much fuel, it can eventually become overloaded and unable to keep up with the demand. It’s the same concept as if you were planning a road trip. You head to the gas station to fill up your car’s sixteen gallon tank. Only you discover the gas is cheap and looks pretty good so you’re going to put in twenty gallons instead.
You keep pouring the gas in even after the full tank mark is reached. What happens? The excess fuel spills out onto the pavement because the car can’t hold all that fuel. With Type 2 diabetes, the excess fuel that stays in your bloodstream is dangerous both short term and long term. Internal organs are then affected by the high levels of glucose and complications such as nerve damage or heart attacks can occur. These complications don’t happen overnight but often take years before any significant damage happens. Type 2 diabetes has been referred to as ‘the silent killer’ because many people have the disease and don’t realize it.
The Symptoms of Diabetes
The most widely known symptoms of diabetes are excessive thirst and frequent urination. Since those two symptoms are talked about most often, it’s easy to miss other lesser-known side effects of having Type 2 diabetes, especially as these symptoms can also take years to develop. Besides increased thirst, Type 2 diabetes causes fatigue. Not just ‘too tired to get out of bed’ fatigue, but a weariness that overcomes the body and you feel like you can’t make it through the afternoon without a nap. The fatigue is heavy enough to cause difficulty focusing or concentrating. You feel foggy, unable to accomplish the tasks you could once breeze through to completion.
The disease also causes blurred vision: the feeling that your eyes are having trouble focusing. Sadly, this is a key symptom often missed in people of middle age as they attribute the vision problems to aging. Severe headaches as well as dizziness caused by the high glucose levels are also a sign of diabetes. Though dizziness is one of the hardest complaints for a doctor to find a cause for, in people with Type 2 diabetes, this feels as if you’re walking sideways or the room is tilting to one side.
At night while trying to go to sleep, if you get the sensation that you’re moving and you’re not or that you’re falling and you’re not, this can also be a sign to get checked. For women, recurring yeast infections are a sign to get checked for the disease as diabetes causes these infections due to the high level of sugar spilling into the urine. When the body can’t break down the glucose, it tries to get rid of it through the kidneys, which is why diabetes can also cause kidney failure if left un-managed.
Numbness and tingling of the fingers, hands and feet can also be a sign of diabetes. If you lie in bed at night and your hand and fingers are tingling, don’t assume it’s because of the way you laid on it. The pins and needles sensation could be from the nerves being exposed to too much glucose. Weight loss without trying to lose weight is also a symptom of Type 2 diabetes that’s very dangerous if overlooked. When the weight loss is rapid, it can mean that your cells aren’t getting the glucose they need and they’re beginning to starve.
Who’s at Risk for Developing Type 2 Diabetes
If you over-indulge in food, you’re always at risk, but certain ethnic groups do carry a greater chance of getting this kind of diabetes. While diabetes is common in Caucasians, the risk of becoming a Type 2 diabetic is greater if you’re African American or Hispanic. This is because family heritage plays a strong role in determining lifestyle that can lead to overeating. Type 2 diabetes has also been called ‘adult onset’ diabetes, leading many to falsely believe that it’s a problem mainly for overweight adults. But the truth is that in today’s world, even children are at great risk and are being diagnosed in record numbers simply because they are carrying around too much weight for their body.
By having an immediate family member, especially a parent or sibling who has or had diabetes, your odds of developing Type 2 diabetes increase. Anyone can develop Type 2 diabetes based on the aforementioned risks, but if you’re a woman and you were ever diagnosed with gestational diabetes, high blood pressure or polycystic ovary syndrome, then you are at a greater risk. You can get tested for diabetes by undergoing a fasting glucose tolerance test, but be aware that this is not always an indicator that you don’t have the disease if you get a negative result.
The best bet is to have your doctor give you an A1c test. This is a blood test that shows what your glucose levels were for the past three months and is one of the best indicators for how your body is handling the glucose-whether it’s being used properly or is staying in your bloodstream. The best result is a reading of less than six percent. Suppose you weren’t aware of all the risks of Type 2 diabetes or you assumed that it wouldn’t happen to you. What do you do when you do receive a diagnosis of diabetes? The first thing you should do is take a deep breath. Next, realize you can fight back against the diagnosis and reverse it.
When a person is diagnosed with diabetes, many doctors hand out a few pamphlets on the disease and a prescription for medication without telling the patients that there is an alternate route. A handful of widely known diabetes organizations never mention that diabetes reversal is possible. Why? Because diabetes is a big business and there’s revenue to be gained for those organizations, but you owe it to yourself to be the most informed about any condition you’re diagnosed with. If your doctor tells you that you have diabetes, you should know more about the disease than he or she does. Why? Because it’s your health on the line.
Diabetes in Reverse: Glucose Control
Leading university scientists have studied diabetes and the ways to educate people about the condition for years. Now, studies done within the last four years have shown that Type 2 diabetes can be reversed with certain changes in the lives of those who are said to have the disease. The very first step to take when you’re told you have diabetes is to get a blood glucose meter. You can find them for a variety of costs from your local pharmacy or retail store. You can also get them for free from some manufacturers.
They do this because they want you to buy their testing strips and most strips are expensive. Most insurance companies will gladly pay for strips because they know the key to fighting long term complications of diabetes lies in reversing it. What happens when you get too hot? You try to cool off, get something cold to drink right? What happens when you get too cold? You seek warmth, get a coat. You try to keep your body neither too hot or cold but just right.
It’s the same with glucose control. You don’t want it too high (complications will occur) or too low (again, complications can occur) you want it to be normal or just right. To reverse Type 2 diabetes, one of the top three factors involved is keeping your blood glucose at a non-diabetic level. This means you check your glucose when you get up in the morning. You check it two hours after you start a meal. That means if you eat lunch at noon, you check your glucose at two. It doesn’t matter when you finish the meal. It matters when you started it.
You should check your glucose before you go to bed at night. If it’s too high, you know you need to work harder to get it lower. If it’s too low, you know you need a snack. What reading is too high? What reading is too low? It depends on a few factors. Whether you’re a man or a woman. Whether you’re currently inactive or active. Checking your glucose readings cannot not be a hit or miss deal. If you want to reverse your diabetes, you must check your blood glucose every day and record the amount in a log. It’s the only way you’ll be able to track your progress. By using the meter after you consume a meal, you’ll also be able to see which foods are best for your body and which ones are worst.
Diabetes in Reverse: The Foods You Eat
How much and what kinds of foods you eat is the second factor in reversing Type 2 diabetes. If someone were diagnosed with the color red causing too high glucose levels, the simple solution would be to avoid the color red. But because it’s food (quantity and quality) that cause Type 2 diabetes, the task is a little harder. After all, you can’t avoid food. What you can do, however, is make sure what you eat works with your body instead of against it and helps to maintain a steady, normal glucose level.
What is it that decides glucose control? You do, by the foods you eat. Foods that are carbohydrates can be classified by number on the glycemic index. This index lets you know how high a certain food will send your glucose reading. This is important because the higher a food’s glycemic rating, the worst effect it will have on being able to reverse your diabetes. Carbohydrates are either simple or complex. The difference is found in the way the body absorbs them-whether it’s a fast or slow absorption. Carbohydrates that are high on the glycemic index are foods involving white flour-sandwich bread, any meat coated with a white flour coating, an example would be breaded nuggets or haddock, white rice, flour tortillas are all high on the index. These foods can raise your glucose levels significantly.
Understand though that just because a food is low on the glycemic chart doesn’t mean it’s good for someone who’s trying to reverse Type 2 diabetes. Fruits contain natural sugar and will spike your glucose rapidly. Until you get your glucose levels down low enough where your diabetes is reversed, watch your fruit intake.
Diabetes in Reverse: Your Exercise Routine
The third factor in determining that diabetes can be reversed is exercise. Lack of exercise is one of the causes that leads to weight gain that leads to inactivity that leads to diabetes. It’s all connected. The same as if there had never been a diagnosis of diabetes, maintaining a healthy body weight and exercise is good for the body. It promotes health and longevity and can prevent or stop certain diseases including diabetes.
Since diabetes goes hand in hand with heart disease, by starting a daily exercise routine, you’ll be able to head that one off before it becomes a problem as well. The kinds of exercise you do depends on what your body can handle to start with. If you’re a bona fide couch-potato and the only race you’ve won lately is to the refrigerator before your show returned from a commercial break, you’ve got to start slow. The best way to go from inactive to active is not rushing full-speed ahead. The key is consistency. Daily exercise, even if all you can do is ten minutes a day to start with.
Begin with ten minutes a day for a week. The next week, add five minutes, after that, five more until you’re exercising thirty minutes a day. Because diabetes is known to impede healing, until you reverse it, be careful when you exercise. Don’t strain yourself. Make sure you take the time to warm up your muscles first.
You also have to watch for low glucose readings after you exercise. Exercise drops the glucose and the rate and number it drops depends on what kind of exercise you do for what length of time. So take your reading before and after you exercise. Make sure you have a snack nearby in case it does drop too low. The purpose behind a regular exercise routine is for the weight loss. Losing excess weight helps your body’s ability to use the food. Your pancreas doesn’t have to work as hard if you’ll do the hard work instead.
Diabetes in Reverse: Managing What Led to the Lifestyle
No one wakes up one morning and decides to fall into a feeding frenzy, gorging himself or herself on food until the numbers on the scale rise dramatically. It’s a slow process. Maybe there was an accident and your mobility was taken away from you for a period of time. Perhaps there was some emotional stress that led to what’s known as food therapy - trying to medicate and quiet the issue or issues with food.
Whatever caused the weight gain, especially if it was brought on by emotional causes must be dealt with. Whether it’s self help, the support of a group of like individuals or therapy, you have to expose and dig up the root of the cause. Stress can cause glucose levels to spike and it must be dealt with. If you can change whatever is causing the stress in your life, then do it. If you can’t, then you must learn how to manage it and by the way, exercise is a great stress reliever.
You have to take the first step though, in order to change. There’s no way to sugar coat it, there are no magic potions you can mix up to wish away a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. What there is though, is a reversal putting the power in your hands. If you get diagnosed and choose to do nothing, you are making a choice that will have a lifetime of consequences in the form of health complications.
We’re Here for You!
Yes, there’s a lot to learn about living well with diabetes. Getting in control might take some time. It’s going to mean making some changes in your life, but you can start with small changes, and you don’t have to make them all at once. And you don’t have to do it alone. If you have any questions, join us in the community and ask.
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