Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that is also known as noninsulin-dependent diabetes, which means that it is characterized by the development of insulin resistance as well as the relative lack this hormone. Most often this disease is diagnosed in adults; however, the number of children affected by type 2 diabetes is increasing everywhere.
In order to understand the importance of insulin for the body, it is necessary to know how the body uses food to get energy. When we eat, our body breaks down the food into simple sugar (carbohydrate) called glucose. After that, with the flow of blood and with the help of insulin glucose enters the cells where it is converted into energy required for their everyday needs. The amount of glucose circulating in the blood is regulated by insulin which is constantly produced in small amounts by the pancreas. When the level of glucose goes up, the pancreas releases more insulin for this glucose to get into the cells which leads to a drop in blood sugar levels and causes a subsequent decrease in the secretion of insulin. But in patients with type 2 diabetes, their body cells lose the ability to properly respond to insulin. That leads to resistance to the action of insulin, and the body cannot produce enough insulin to overcome this resistance. Thus, instead of entering the cells where it is required for energy, glucose is accumulated in the bloodstream.
It is still unclear why exactly this happens, and why some people develop type 2 diabetes, whereas others do not. However, researchers believe that there are certain risk factors that play a great role in the development of this condition, including:
- High blood pressure.
- Genetic predisposition. Studies show that certain genes are associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes development. The risk of experiencing this condition increases if a person has a sibling or parent with diabetes.
- High cholesterol levels.
- Lack of physical activity and sedentary lifestyle.
- Obesity. It is the major risk factor for diabetes.
- Unhealthy diet with a lot of processed foods, little fiber content and poor quality fats.
- Gestational diabetes, a condition that develops in 2-5% of pregnant women. It usually disappears after the delivery, but women who face it have a greater later-life risk of having diabetes.
- Certain medications are linked to an increased risk of diabetes in people who are already at risk. These are beta-blockers, corticosteroids, statins and thiazides.
- Chronic stress.
- Age. The older a person gets, the higher the risk of developing diabetes is.