What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 Diabetes is a Lifestyle Chronic Disease, i.e. it is a chronic disease that emerges due to an individual's lifestyle. In this type of Diabetes Mellitus, your body has excess sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream. This results from the cells being resistant to insulin or unable to use insulin properly. Let's understand, in detail, how that comes about.
When you eat food, your body breaks it down into glucose molecules. These molecules are needed by the cells to make energy. For the glucose to move from the bloodstream to the cells, it requires insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas; when the pancreas detects the presence of glucose in the body, it produces insulin which then carries glucose to the cells. When the insulin comes in contact with it, it informs the cells to open up to receive glucose for energy. But, for people who have Type 2 Diabetes, the cells are resistant to insulin. That is, they stop responding to the insulin and do not open up to receive glucose, which results in glucose floating around in the bloodstream. With time, the amount of glucose in the bloodstream keeps increasing, which leads to Diabetes.
People who have Type 2 Diabetes are Insulin Resistant.
As mentioned above, Type 2 Diabetes is a result of people's lifestyles. No one has Insulin Resistance from birth; the body becomes insulin resistant due to people's lifestyle choices, such as increased physical inactivity, obesity, excess consumption of processed foods, etc. As time goes by, more and more people have become accustomed to the above mentioned lifestyle, promoting a rise in the number of diabetic patients.
The rising tide of obesity, physical inactivity, and poor diet has resulted in an unprecedented increase in the number of patients with type 2 diabetes. In 2015, it was estimated that around 415 million people were affected by diabetes, and more than 90% of those had type 2 diabetes. This number is said to increase exponentially, i.e. around 642 million by 20401
In a recent census, it was reported that in India, the world's diabetes capital, approximately 2.4% of the rural population and 11.6% of the urban population were diabetic. And this number is only expected to increase.
Type 2 Diabetes adversely affects a person's health in many ways. It can affect the nerves, kidneys, heart, blood vessels, pancreas, liver, brain and eyes.
What is The Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?
There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes. Almost 85% of diabetic patients suffer from Type 2 Diabetes.2 Both types of diabetes are chronic in nature and affect the glucose levels present in the body.
While Type 1 Diabetes can result from a person's genes or a virus entering the body, Type 2 Diabetes is born due to a person's lifestyle. Type 1 is harder, almost impossible, to prevent. But, on the other hand, Type 2, being a lifestyle born disease, is preventable yet something a maximum number of people suffer from.
The biggest difference in both types of diabetes is that in Diabetes Type 1, the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin. In contrast, in Type 2, the cells become resistant to insulin. In the former, the cells cannot use the glucose present due to the lack of insulin, while in the latter, the cells resist the insulin, making it almost impossible for the glucose to reach the cell.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
If you are suffering from one or more of the following symptoms, it can be a sign that you have Type 2 Diabetes. Though it does not necessarily mean you have diabetes, it is an indicator for you to check whether you have Type 2 Diabetes or not.
The signs and symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes are:
- Frequent Urination
- Constantly feeling thirsty and/or hungry
- Fruity smelling urine (indicator or ketones in urine)
- Drastic reduction in weight
- Tingling or numbness in feet and hands.
- Sores or wounds that take time to heal
- Vision getting blurry
- Areas of skin getting darker
If you suspect that you have Diabetes Type 2, you must consult with a doctor. There also are ways for you to detect them.
Tests to check if you have Type 2 Diabetes as per Functional Nutrition:
- Check pre- and post-prandial blood glucose levels
- Check HBA1c levels
- If suffering from the above symptoms and are obese
- Check C-peptide levels
- Check for changes in the colon and microbiome.
These are just a few tests that iThrive, a Functional Nutrition Organisation, checks to identify whether a person is Type 2 Diabetic or not. These tests are normally checked using optimal ranges by a Functional Nutritionist, as opposed to using referral ranges, as practised by conventional doctors. This is done because using optimal ranges helps give a better understanding of the human body.
If you are, indeed, diabetic, DO NOT PANIC. Understandably, people get panicked when faced with it because of what society deems is necessary when living with diabetes. Society has unknowingly termed diabetes as a disease one has to live with lifelong and can be managed only through daily pill-popping. That is so not the case.
So, is Diabetes Type 2 reversible?
YES, of course, Type 2 Diabetes is reversible. As repeatedly mentioned in this article, Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 is a lifestyle born disease, so isn't it perfectly reasonable that it can be reversed through changes in lifestyle?
Society's way of dealing or not dealing with diabetes, has set a false precedent that informs people that if they are diabetic, the only option left is to manage it through pills. But, a Functional Nutritionist can help you reverse diabetes through food, lifestyle changes, supplementation and other holistic methods.
To reverse diabetes holistically, Functional Nutrition takes the help of Root Cause Analysis. That is, it first digs out the reason behind the emergence of diabetes. Treating the reason, in turn, helps reverse the disease.
But, there are tips you can follow to manage or treat your diabetes.
It is well established that one single treatment plan is not suitably effective for everyone. Every individual is unique, thus, the treatments are supposed to be based on the particular individual's body needs (identified through a thorough blood analysis) and also conformed to their lifestyle.
Here are a few generalised steps that can be taken to treat Type 2 Diabetes:
- Include Fibre: Include fibre in your diet as it is a little difficult for your body to break. This results in the gradual and drawn-out release of glucose in the body, decreasing the risk of a blood sugar spike.
- Eliminate Processed Foods: Cutting down on processed foods is healthier in general. It is the worst food one can put in their body as it provides zero nutritional value and only adds to the body's calorie count. It also has a high amount of added sugar, salts and vegetable/seed oils.
- Avoid Skipping Meals: This is the biggest mistake diabetic people make. They think eating less or skipping meals is the answer to decreasing glucose production. But it is counterproductive. Skipping meals lead to excessive hunger, which leads to overeating in one go, which ultimately leads to an increase in glucose.
- Include Dietary Supplements: To ensure your body is functioning at its best, it needs to be provided with the necessary nutrients that many are unable to receive from their diet. This makes it impertinent for the nutrition gap to be filled by the inclusion of supplements. A few nutrients needed to reverse diabetes are:
- Magnesium: It is an essential cofactor of high-energy phosphate-bound enzymatic pathways involved in the energetic metabolism, synthesis of protein, and modulation of glucose transport across cell membranes.
- Vitamin D: It plays a functional role in glucose tolerance by affecting insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity.
- Chromium: It improves the action of insulin by improving tyrosine kinase activity.
- Controlled Carbohydrate Intake: Cutting carbohydrates is not practical and not even necessary. Intaking a controlled amount of carbohydrates in their clean state, i.e. not from processed foods, does not spike glucose levels in the body. But to ensure you are taking the proper amount of carbohydrates, you should consult with your nutritionist rather than making your own assumptions.
- Natural Remedies: You can also include a few herbs like fenugreek seeds, GABA, berberine and Ocimum Basillicum (Tulsi) in your diet. They are reported to be as effective as the medicines prescribed by the doctors4
This does not discount the fact that Type 2 Diabetes can be prevented very easily. All one needs to do is keep living a sustainably healthy life and providing their body with the necessary nutrients it requires. It can be done only when one knows exactly what their body is lacking. This information is stored in our blood and can be found through proper analysis of the blood or, in other words, by getting a Root Cause Analysis of the body.
How Can You Prevent Type 2 Diabetes Using Functional Nutrition?
As the name suggests, a lifestyle disease is a result of a person's lifestyle. As Type 2 Diabetes is a lifestyle disease ensuring your lifestyle choices are healthy helps you prevent the onset of this type of Diabetes.
A few ways your habits can inculcate to prevent the onset of Type 2 Diabetes are:
- Eliminate seed oils completely from your diet
- Inculcate physical activity in your daily life
- It is important to have a good 6 to 8 hours of sleep
- Find ways to maintain your stress levels.