25.6.09

Type 2 Diabetes__How to lower your risk of developing this disease

Type 2 diabetes is a disease where the pancreas produces the hormone insulin but not enough to optimally support the body's needs (or the body has difficulty making proper use of the insulin). Type 2 diabetes is also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes (can be treated without reliance on insulin injections). Type 2 diabetes can afflict adults and children.

Type 2 diabetes is more common that Type 1 diabetes. In Type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the cells (called beta cells) located in the pancreas that produce insulin. This causes the person to suffer from a severe deficiency of insulin that requires insulin injections. According to the American Diabetes Association, most cases of Type 2 diabetes are preceded by the person suffering from a condition that has been dubbed "Pre-Diabetes".

Pre-diabetes is a condition in which a person's blood sugar level is elevated above what is considered normal but not yet high enough to be officially classified as Type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, proper management of pre-diabetes can help prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes. At the time of this writing, approximately 1 out of 5 Americans are affected by Pre-Diabetes and are at serious risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Carbohydrates (starches and sugars) are all broken down into glucose which is simple blood sugar. Insulin is released from the pancreas to escort the sugar in your blood to the cells throughout your body. With Type 2 diabetes, the body does not have enough insulin and excess sugar remains in the blood. This excess sugar can damage tissues and lead to complications such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and possibly blindness (due to damage done to small blood vessels in the eyes). Atherosclerosis can lead to heart disease and the risk of a heart attack.

Carbs that have less of an effect on insulin levels are healthier than ones that cause insulin levels to rise rapidly. Many foods that are high in fiber such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes (ex., beans) tend to effect insulin levels more favorably. The glycemic index was created specifically to measure this effect among foods.

The glycemic index can help you choose foods that can help keep blood sugar levels under control and lessen the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Foods with a high glycemic index number cause insulin levels to rise quickly while foods with a low number help keep insulin levels under control (surprisingly, dark chocolate is relatively low on the glycemic index). Controlling insulin levels is vital to preventing Type 2 diabetes and managing the disease if it does occur.

African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Native-Americans have higher rates of Type 2 diabetes than non-Hispanic White Americans. People who are overweight or obese are also at a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, having a family member with the disease also increases your risk.

Some of the symptoms of the disease may include excessive thirst, excessive urination, excessive hunger, and excessive fatique. If you have any of these possible symptoms, please see your doctor immediately for an evaluation. On a personal note, I can verify that Type 2 Diabetes is nothing to take lightly. Several members of my own family have dealt with this disease. For more information about Type 2 diabetes, its health risks, symptoms, and treatment, you can visit the American Diabetes Association website or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

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