What is Type 2 Diabetes?

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The most simple, easy to understand explanation of Type 2 diabetes I’ve found is in a document called Type 2 Diabetes and Lifestyle Changes from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. (The NHS is the National Health Service in the UK.) It includes advice on exercise, diet and weight loss in order to manage your diabetes, stated in the most straightforward way possible. (There are some very complicated explanations out there and that is not the best place to start.) Understanding your diabetes is crucial in having success at managing it long-term.

Here are some points I pulled from the document:

Diabetes is a condition in which there is too much glucose (sugar) in the blood

  • Type 2 diabetes occurs because your body does not use a hormone called insulin very well
  • Diabetes is progressive and will change over time
  • Keeping glucose levels under control can limit the long-term complications of diabetes
  • Managing other risk factors such as blood pressure, smoking and blood cholesterol can also reduce your risk of long-term complications

What happens in your body when you have Type 2 diabetes:

  • Food we eat is stored in the stomach and is broken down to create glucose
  • The glucose is transported around the body in the blood
  • The glucose needs to get into cells/parts of the body where it is used or stored for energy
  • Imagine cells are like a room with a locked door. In order for glucose to get into the cell, insulin must act as a key to unlock the door
  • In Type 2 diabetes, the lock to the door becomes rusty – this is called insulin resistance – and insulin cannot unlock the door
  • The glucose therefore gets stuck in the blood and over the long term this can cause damage to your body
  • The glucose therefore gets stuck in the blood and over the long term this can cause damage to your body
You can view the full document here.
The official resource for information, support and activities around Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in the UK is Diabetes UKcircle-logo-200