Can You Spot the Warning Signs of Type 2 Diabetes?
To coincide with Diabetes Week, come with us on a deep dive into Type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is a largely preventable lifestyle disease. If untreated, it leads to complications like nerve damage, vision loss, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and foot problems, so it’s wise to be aware of the symptoms.
Do you know the early warning signs of Type 2 diabetes?
Diabetes and Blood Sugar Levels
When you eat food, it’s broken down in your digestive tract into a sugar called glucose and absorbed into your blood. Your body has developed an ingenious system to control how much sugar is in your blood and your cells.
Too much sugar floating around in the blood is damaging, so your pancreas releases insulin. This hormone instructs cells all around your body to allow sugar to enter, where it’s used to provide them with energy.
Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the special cells in the pancreas manufacturing insulin are destroyed by the immune system. This can be connected with genetics, viral infections or reactions to certain foods. It normally occurs in childhood but sometimes adults develop Type 1 diabetes. Because the pancreas can no longer produce insulin, it must be administered on a lifelong basis.
Type 2 diabetes develops when the body’s cells become deaf to insulin’s message. If you frequently eat refined carbohydrates and sugary foods they’re broken down very quickly by your digestive system and rapidly released into your blood. Your pancreas reacts by releasing a rush of insulin. If this keeps on happening, over time your cells will begin to ignore insulin’s message. This is known as insulin resistance.
Because the cells stop reacting to insulin, sugar isn’t allowed inside and it remains in the blood. Your pancreas will then secrete more and more insulin to try and reduce the amount of sugar in the blood, and it may eventually suffer from burnout.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
Because Type 2 diabetes develops slowly, its warning signs can be mild and subtle in the early stages.
- Frequently needing to pass water. This is caused when your kidneys try to remove excess sugar by filtering it out of your blood and into your urine. You might find you need to get up at night to pee.
- If you’re urinating more frequently, you’ll want to drink more, but drinking won’t necessarily satisfy your thirst.
- Feeling hungry. Because the sugar in your blood can’t access inside your cells to be used for energy, you’ll feel hungrier than usual as your body tries to find more energy. You might even find you’re losing weight despite eating plenty of food.
- Due to this lack of available energy, you may feel tired.
- Blurred vision. Excess sugar in your blood can damage the tiny blood vessels in your eyes, over time causing blurred vision.
- Slow healing of cuts and wounds. Sugar damages nerves and blood vessels, and poor blood supply means oxygen and nutrients can’t reach the affected area.
- Tingling and numbness in the hands and feet. This is due to high blood sugar affecting blood circulation and causing nerve damage.
You might notice you develop patches of dark velvety skin in your armpit, groin or the creases of your neck. These are caused by too much insulin in your blood. You might experience recurrent itching and yeast infections because yeasts love sugar. High blood sugar can also affect your immune system meaning you have problems fighting off infections.
Managing Type 2 Diabetes Naturally
Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease, strongly connected with diet, obesity and chronic inflammation. Cells don’t stop reacting to insulin overnight; they gradually become less sensitive.
So unlike Type 1 diabetes, where the cells of the pancreas have lost their function, in Type 2 diabetes, adjustments to diet and lifestyle can prevent its occurrence or even reverse its progression.
Dietary changes can be very effective at balancing blood sugar levels. The first step is to reduce the sugar and refined carbohydrates causing spikes in blood sugar levels. Meanwhile targeted nutrients, herbs and supplements can help improve your cells’ sensitivity to insulin.
Exercise can help improve blood sugar control for as long as 48 hours afterwards, while insufficient sleep, even for as little as one week, is known to reduce insulin sensitivity.
Because Type 2 diabetes is linked with chronic inflammation, strategies for reducing inflammation like supporting healthy gut function and managing stress can be useful. Stress reduction techniques have been found in research to reduce glucose levels in the blood.
Functional medicine looks at the causes of your symptoms, using functional tests to pinpoint specific imbalances and nutrient deficiencies, identify food intolerances and assess your gut function.
Do you want to prevent or manage Type 2 diabetes for a healthier future? Contact me today to start your journey to reversing type 2 diabetes..