What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic (lifelong) condition in which the body cannot regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) flowing through the bloodstream. This is typically due to insulin resistance and/or an inability to make enough insulin to meet the glucose demand.
Type 2 diabetes is a very complicated condition. Contrary to popular belief, if one is overweight, sedentary, or with poor eating habits, it does not guarantee one will develop type 2 diabetes. In most cases, one must also have the genetics to trigger the condition.
What is insulin?
Insulin is a hormone naturally produced in the beta cells of the pancreas. Increasing blood glucose levels trigger the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin then finds its way to your cells and acts like a key allowing glucose to enter your cells and leave the bloodstream.
For someone with type 2 diabetes, the pancreas still makes insulin; the body just does not respond effectively to it. This is called insulin resistance. More and more insulin is required for glucose to exit the bloodstream and enter the cells. Over time, the pancreas cannot keep up with the increased demand and glucose accumulates in the bloodstream.
According to research, 40-50% of beta-cell function is already lost at diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Beta cells continue to decline and insulin production lessens as the condition progresses.
Here is an illustration of what the progression to type 2 diabetes might look like:
What puts a person at risk for Type 2 Diabetes?
There are several factors that put a person at risk for type 2 diabetes, including
- Having pre-diabetes
- Being overweight
- Age 45 or older
- Having a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes
- Engaging in less than 150 minutes of physical activity per week
- Being African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian, or Alaska Native (some Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans are also at higher risk)
Many of these risk factors are beyond your control, while others are modifiable through healthy lifestyle choices.
You can learn more about diabetes here What is Diabetes? In this interactive section, you will find visuals and videos that talk more about what is happening in the body when food is eaten, and the role that glucose and insulin play.
For an even deeper dive into Type 2 Diabetes, read more about the eight different defects potentially occurring behind the scenes!
The Fate of Beta-Cells in Type 2 Diabetes and the Possible Role of Pharmacological Interventions.
©Gary Scheiner MS, CDCES – Integrated Diabetes Services. May be reproduced and used for patient education, but not sold.