Type 2 diabetes is on the rise globally. It affects people of all ages, but what is more worrying is that it is particularly on the rise among young children. What is also worrying is that most people with pre-diabetes have not been diagnosed and are not aware of their high blood sugar levels.
In this article we will get to the basics of Type 2 diabetes. Read on to set the target levels for your blood glucose tests, learn about insulin resistance and about the serious health complications of having uncontrolled high blood sugar levels.
Data from the American Diabetes Association show that while 35% of adults, 20 years and older, have pre-diabetes, most have not been diagnosed. Type 2 Diabetes accounts for 90-95% of all people living with diabetes.
Know Your Numbers
Our bodies have been designed to have blood sugar levels within a specific range. People without diabetes should have fasting blood glucose (morning measurement without having anything to eat) should be between 70-100 or 110 mg/l. For people with diabetes the American Diabetes Association recommends keeping fasting blood glucose in the range of 70-120 mg/dl.
It is always better to check your Hemoglobin A1c (%) which gives an estimation of your blood glucose over a period of about two months. This measurement is a better predictor of long term health and future risk of developing diabetes in people who are insulin resistant.
- Below 5.7% indicates normal blood sugar
- 5.8 – 6.5% indicates prediabetes and
- Above 6.5% indicates diabetes.
The body loses its ability to regulate blood glucose and insulin resistance develops when:
- A person has excess weight, especially weight that is stored around the belly,
- The diet is high in sugar and total carbohydrates,
- The diet lacks key nutrients for optimal blood glucose control,
- Activity levels are low.
What is Insulin Resistance
Insulin is a key hormone in our metabolism. It enables cells to use the glucose found in the blood for energy. Insulin acts like the key in the picture below, opening the door for glucose (blue molecules) in each cell.
Insulin resistance is the first stage when the metabolism starts to fail. Glucose can no longer enter the cells for energy even though a lot of insulin is available in the blood.
Insulin Resistance develops when:
- there is excess fat storage in the abdomen
- the diet is rich in total carbohydrates and simple sugars
- key nutrients (such as chromium and magnesium) are lacking from the diet
- activity levels are low.
Insulin resistance leads to Type 2 diabetes if not addressed properly. However it is very important to know that in most cases insulin resistance is 100% reversible when the necessary lifestyle changes are made. You can absolutely take your health in your own hands and boost your health and longevity when you start eating better, reduce your carbohydrates and increase your activity levels.
Why should I care if my blood sugar is high?
Having high blood sugar puts the whole body at risk. High blood sugar damages both the small and large arteries, promotes inflammation and is associated with:
- An increased risk of stroke and heart attacks
- Decline in vision, cataracts, glaucoma and blindness
- Kidney failure
- Peripheral nerve damage
- Amputation and gangrene
- An increased risk of cancer.
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- Guariguata, L., D. R. Whiting, I. Hambleton, J. Beagley, U. Linnenkamp, and J. E. Shaw. "Global estimates of diabetes prevalence for 2013 and projections for 2035." Diabetes research and clinical practice 103, no. 2 (2014): 137-149.
- Type 2 Diabetes Statistics and Facts, http://www.healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes/statistics
- What is a normal blood sugar level? https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/what-is-a-normal-blood-sugar-level/
- Nathan, David M., and DCCT/Edic Research Group. "The diabetes control and complications trial/epidemiology of diabetes interventions and complications study at 30 years: overview." Diabetes care 37, no. 1 (2014): 9-16.