The body breaks down all of the sugars and starches in our food into glucose, which is the basic fuel for the cells in the body. The hormone insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells so it can be used for energy. In type II diabetes, the body either does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin.
Glucose therefore builds up in the blood instead of in the cells. Cells start to become starved of energy and over time, the high level of glucose in the blood can cause damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.
Type II diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. While diabetes occurs in people of all ages and races, some groups have a higher risk for developing type II diabetes than others. It’s more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, as well as the aged population.
Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem so harmless, but early detection can decrease the chance of developing complications.
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Extreme hunger
- Unusual weight loss
- Increased fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Tingling or numbness in hands legs or feet
- Dry or itchy skin
- Frequent infections
- Cuts and bruises that take a long time to heal
Certain risk factors are associated with an increased chance of developing type II diabetes. These include:
- Obesity/being overweight: body mass index greater than 27
- Apple shape: a waist measurement of more than 100 cm (39.5 inches) in men and 95 cm (37.5 inches) in women.
- Age: diabetes risk increases with age
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Family history of diabetes
- History of diabetes in pregnancy
- Ethnicity: being of Aboriginal, African, Latin American or Asian ethnicity
In addition these metabolic parameters also increase diabetes risk:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Impaired Glucose Tolerance – People affected by this condition do not meet the diagnostic criteria for diabetes, but their blood sugar control is considered to be abnormal, placing them at higher risk for the development of type II diabetes
Testing for diabetes
Diabetes is tested for using a fasting glucose blood test which your GP can carry out. This measures the level of glucose in the blood after 12 hours of not eating anything. In a healthy person, blood sugar should be quite low after fasting because insulin has packed all the glucose away in the cells to maintain energy production. In diabetics there is either not enough insulin or the cells are no longer responsive – so blood glucose levels stay high even after 12 hours without food.
It’s also possible to test whether you’re at an increased risk of developing diabetes. If a number of the general risk factors for diabetes above apply to you, you might like to consider having a Metabolic syndrome – Insulin Resistance test which measures your fasting glucose, cholesterol and other important markers, indicating possible impaired glucose tolerance.
If an increased risk is identified, Smart Nutrition can give you expert advice on diet, supplements and lifestyle adjustments to help prevent your condition from progressing to full-blown diabetes.
Diet: diabetics need to be careful about which foods they eat: foods which cause large increases in blood sugar can lead to weight gain and some of the more serious diabetes complications.
Certain foods release their sugar into the blood stream more rapidly than others. Typically, the more refined and processed the food, the faster it will release its sugar and the bigger the rise in blood glucose level.
Learning which foods to eat to keep blood sugar levels even is an important part of staying healthy as a diabetic: Smart Nutrition can provide expert advice on using food to manage the condition. Please use the button at the bottom of the page to book.
Nutrient deficiencies: the right balance of vitamins and minerals is critical to efficient blood sugar regulation.
Deficiencies of key nutrients can increase diabetes risk or aggravate an existing condition. Our modern diets are often full of refined, processed foods, saturated fats, salt and simple sugars. These foods are low in nutrients and this predisposes us to developing a deficiency.
A NutrEval Health MOT Test can identify these deficiencies and allow them to be corrected before they become a serious problem.
Essential fatty acids balance: every cell in the body is surrounded by a special protective membrane made from fatty acids.
This membrane is home to the special receptors that respond to insulin and other hormones. Insulin’s ability to shuttle glucose into cells is dependent upon healthy cell membranes, which is in turn determined by the overall balance of fatty acids.
Diabetes reduces the body’s ability to handle essential fatty acids, meaning many diabetic patients become deficient.
Essential fatty acid levels can be checked with a simple test, and Smart Nutrition can help you to correct any deficiencies.
Oxidative damage: research shows that oxidative damage plays a role in the damage to tissues caused by diabetes.
Our cells utilise oxygen to make energy, a process that also produces free radicals, toxic byproducts that damage our cells and DNA. Oxidative stress can also damage the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, which can worsen diabetes.
Our bodies produce natural antioxidants to help mop up free radicals and limit their amount of damage. We also get some from our food. Scientists have found much lower than normal antioxidant levels in diabetics, making them at much higher risk of oxidative damage.
Monitoring and controlling oxidative damage is therefore an important aspect of effective diabetes management. An Oxidative Stress analysis analyses the oxidative stress your body is under, as well as the efficiency of its defence mechanisms.
Male hormones: as men age, declining levels of male sex hormone testosterone can trigger imbalances that promote diabetes. Obesity and a large waist circumference are strongly associated with low testosterone levels in men.
The major symptoms of low testosterone levels are low sex drive, reduced erection strength, reduced physical strength, fatigue and changes in mood.
Testosterone levels can be measured via a Male Hormone Profile. It also indicates stress hormone and the sleep hormone melatonin levels, providing an accurate picture of hormonal health.