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Type 2 Diabetes

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INTRODUCTION

In type 2 diabetes there are two major problems. First of all the cells on various tissues of the body (e.g the muscles) resist to the action of insulin. That in result leads the pancreas to work even harder to produce insulin (insulin is a hormone that is produced by the beta cells in the pancreas). This extra workload leads to the second problem of the condition, a vicious circle, where the extra strain on the beta cells that gradually lose their ability to effectively produce insulin in the required normal levels. As levels of insulin drop it can’t clear out of the body blood sugar. Levels of blood sugar raise and start causing cell and tissue damage.

This condition occurs usually after the age of 40.

 

SYMPTOMS OF TYPE 2 DIABETES

The excessive amount of sugar in blood forces the body to eliminate excess amount of glucose through the kidneys and the urine and thus often type 2 diabetic patients show symptoms as:

  • frequent urination
  • increased feeling of thirst
  • frequent urinary infections

If the period that glucose remains at elevated levels in the body other symptoms may occur, such as:

  • fatigue
  • blurry vision
  • pain or wound in the feet
  • frequent fungal infections

 

TYPE 2 DIABETES COMPLICATIONS

The main and most dangerous complications that may occur in type 2 diabetic patients are:

  • heart disease and stokes
  • diseases of the eyes (retinopathy, cataract)
  • diabetic neuropathy (reduced strength, pain in different body parts, diarrhea or constipation  form abnormalities that neuropathy causes in the intestines,  erectile dysfunction in men, diabetic foot  which can result in  amputations.
  • diabetic kidney disease  (microalbuminuria and the most serious proteinuria)
  • fatigue and depression

 

MOST OFTEN CAUSES OF TYPE 2 DIABETES

There are several risk factors that increase the chances of someone developing type 2 diabetes:

  • increased body weight
  • lack of exercise
  • genetic profile – family history
  • unhealthy diet
  • gestational diabetes
  • old age
  • metabolic syndrome

Increased body weight is perhaps the greatest risk factor for someone developing the disease. A big percentage of the type 2 diabetics are overweight too. Overweight is someone whose Body Mass Index (BMI) is above 25. Body type also seems to be of some importance. People who have their fat concentrated around the waist are more likely to become diabetics than those who have it in their hips. Ιf the ratio diameter of waist/ diameter of hips is above 1,0 for men or above 0.8 for women then there are possibilities of developing diabetes in the future. In that case you should ask your doctor for advice.

Lack of frequent exercise results in burning less calories than the amount that we consume through food and in the long-term this could lead to obesity, diabetes and even heart disease. Aerobic exercise (walking, running, swimming, dancing, biking) is extremely important in the prevention of such health conditions. Recent scientific research keeps finding positive results for the human health in other types of training like weight lifting, crossfit and especially high intensity interval training (HIIT) which can achieve similar positive results for human health but in shorter time duration. Feel free to visit our special page about “Diabetes and Exercise” What is also interesting is, the scientific research regarding substances that can imitate in some extend the effects that exercise has on human body and metabolism. Those exercise mimetics can activate the same enzymes and even genes in the human body that exercise does. Some of these substances include vitamin C (recently was announced that taking 500 mg vitamin C daily can have positive effects in the blood cells similar to long distance walking), resveratrol etc. Stay updated through our page “News and Scientific Research”.

Inheritance seems to play a major role in developing type 2 diabetes. Family history is of great importance in case of type 2 diabetes than in type 1. If one of your parents or siblings are diabetics then you have more chances becoming one yourself.  Almost 40 % of type 2 diabetic patients have a first degree relative who is diabetic too. Family life and behaviour plays an important role. If a parent smoke, eat unhealthy, don’t work out then it is very likely that the children will develop similar behaviour.

Healthy nutritional habits should be the same both for healthy and for diabetic people. Your doctor can give you a specific diet plan or ever refer you to a dietician.

In general your diet should be balanced in regard quantity and always try to avoid consuming more calories than you burn through your life style or working out. Diet must be low on salt and sugar. Try to use a natural sugar replacement like stevia or xylitol instead. Eat unsaturated fats (olive oil, nuts, fish, avocados) and avoid saturated fats (processed meat, fat cheese, milk cream, mayonnaise etc). Choose the consumption of complex carbohydrates like wholegrain bread and pasta because simple carbohydrates are foods with big glycemic index that can add more strain on the battered form diabetes insulin system.

Consume foods rich in dietary fibres. They can help with the proper function of the intestines and can help reduce appetite by achieving more easily the feeling of fullness. Consider taking dietary fibre such as glucomannan or psyllium as food supplements.

Have regularly small meals, as long as your snacks are not processed and contain large amounts of salt or sugar.

Eat a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit. Quit smoking and avoid consuming alcohol.

Age is another risk factor for diabetes development. Most type 2 diabetic patients are over 45 years old. Older people are more prone to hypoglycaemia crisis.

The metabolic syndrome or syndrome of insulin resistance is a medical condition in which blood sugar levels remain elevated but not to the same extend as in the case of fully developed type 2 diabetes. Metabolic syndrome is often correlated with obesity and luck of exercise. Its complications include hypertension, high cholesterol, high levels of insulin in the blood. In the early stages of the condition pancreas is able to produce the right amounts of insulin but in case that it loses some of its ability metabolic syndrome slowly develops in type 2 diabetes. Those early stages are often called prediabetes. Almost 1 every 20 people who are prediabetics will develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy. It usually recedes after the birth but it is a condition that needs professional medical treatment. Please refer to our dedicated page for more information.

 

PREVENTION OF TYPE 2 DIABETES

Try and lower your daily calory intake. Work out as often as you can preferably conduct aerobic exercises like walking, running, biking, swimming, dancing and group sports. Quit smoking, try to avoid alcohol consumption. Reduce salt and sugar intake, use a natural sugar replacement like stevia. Base your diet in foods rich in dietary fibre, complex carbohydrates, proteins and unsaturated fats. Have small and frequent meals. Replace sweetened sodas, with lots of green tea. Deficiencies of basic nutrients, vitamins and minerals like vitamin D or magnesium can raise the chances of a person developing type 2 diabetes.  If a first degree relative of yours develops diabetes ask your doctor to examine your condition more regularly. Talk with your doctor about taking natural food supplements that could assist in the better management of your blood sugar or could lower the risk of developing the disease.

 

DIAGNOSIS AND MONITORING

Your pathologist or endocrinologist are the ones to diagnose the disease. Diabetes is going to be confirmed by special blood tests .Symptoms usually occur at a slow pace so it is possible that diabetes have already occurred long before the symptoms.  Your doctor will decide and prescribe the right medicine for you and you will have (at least once per year) blood tests for checking the rates of your blood sugar levels, glycosylated haemoglobin, blood lipids, protein amount in the urine while monitoring also your eye health for retinopathy and your feet for neuropathy. It would be good to purchase a blood pressure monitor so you can regularly check your blood pressure.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is also an important measure for monitoring disease progression. Ask your doctor to inform you about the measurement methodology. In general if you should have a precision weight scale and follow the steps below:

  • Use a tape measure and write down your height. Multiply your height with itself and write down the result.
  • Measure your weight in kilogramms and divide it with the number that came up in the first step. The final number that’s gonna occur will be your BMI = height (m)*height (m)*/body weight (kg)
BMI<18,5 18,5<BMI<25 25<BMI<30 30<BMI<40 BMI>40
Underweight Normal weight Overweight Obesity Extreme obece

 

BMI is indicative. If you are muscular you are not necessarily obese. Also, BMI index does not apply for children or pregnant women.

If your doctor finds it necessary is going to ask you to learn how to measure your blood sugar on your own at home .This is something that could help you feel more in control about your medical condition. If you take insulin injections it is advised to measure your blood sugar daily and keep a personal calendar and action plan.  You can use a personal blood glucose meter for the use of which you will be informed by your doctor.

Your doctor will be also deciding about your medical treatment.

If during treatment the control of your blood sugar levels approve to be more difficult, if side effects occur, if you’re pregnant or you just want to better control the condition using dieting plans and more natural approaches you are advised to see a professional nutritionist too.

 

MEDICAL TREATMENT

Your doctor is going to prescribe the drugs and the dosage suitable for your condition. He is the one to decide if you should be prescribed insulin injections to. Even if you are on antidiabetic medication it’s highly recommended that you adopt a healthy diet and lifestyle including at least some form of workout frequently.

Usual antidiabetic medications are:

Medical substance Medical Action Brand Name
Acarbose A glucosidae inhibitors Glucobay
Metformin Biguanides Glucophage, Glucamet, Orabet
Νateglidine/Repaglinide Blood glucose regulators Starlix, NovoNorm
Glibenclamide/Gliclazide

Glimepiride

Sulfonylureas Daonil, Euglucon, Gliken, Malix, Amaryl, Glibenese, Glurenorm
Pioglitazone/Rosiglitazone Thiazolidinediones Actos, Avandia

 

Like most drugs antidiabetic medication can also cause some side effects. The most common are hypoglycaemia and gastrointestinal disturbances. If side effects occur, contact and inform your doctor. Some of the most common side effects of antidiabetic drugs are:

Medical substance Hypoglycemia Side effects
Acarbose Maybe in consumption with Sulfonylureas Liver function , Flatulence
Metformin unlikely Gastrointestinal  symptoms (nausea, vomiting, stomach pain)  metallic taste
Νateglidine/Repaglinide yes Gastrointestinal  symptoms, itching, rash
Glibenclamide/Gliclazide

Glimepirid

yes Gastrointestinal  symptoms
Pioglitazone/Rosiglitazone rarely Gastrointestinal symptoms, headache

 

If you take metformin for long periods of time you must check your vitamin B12 levels frequently to make sure you are not or becoming inefficient. Natural sunstances like silymarin (milk thistle) have shown in studies protective effects on liver and kidneys on some diabetic patients. Dietary fibers like psyllium and glucomannan help alleviate side effects like gastrointestinal problems, so do probiotic products.

 

FOOD SUPPLEMENTS FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES

Apart from the established pharmaceutical treatments of type 2 diabetes there are alternative natural substances like vitamins, minerals and herbs that taken as food supplements may help in the prevention and treatment of symptoms of the disease. Through our web site you can search and be informed about “Scientific Studies and Research” about the positive effects of many of those natural treatments on various aspects of health on type 2 diabetic patients.  You can also keep up with all the “News and scientific Updates” in the battle against diabetes. In our page “Natural Treatment Combinations” you can find some of the results of these scientific studies for each stage of the disease that may concern you. Our e-shop offers a lot of these treatments from food supplement companies of proven (with all the licensing required) quality and proven safety manufacturing progress in the most competitive prices.