What does type 2 diabetes look like on the inside?
Diabetes is a complex medical condition caused by a collection of physiological issues that interrupt Carbohydrate metabolism.
There are four types of diabetes:
Gestational diabetes – develops in women during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and, in most cases, resolves after the baby is born.
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) – develops spontaneously when the Beta Cells in the Pancreas stop producing Insulin due to a malfunction of the immune system. T1D is not caused by poor diet or lifestyle choices.
Type 1.5 diabetes (T1.5D) – also known as ‘latent (hidden) autoimmune diabetes in adults’ (LADA), is similar to T1D. However, it is often misdiagnosed as T2D because it develops slowly. The only way to tell the difference between T1.5D and T2D is through an antibody (blood) test.
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) – develops over time, usually as a result of poor lifestyle.
What is carbohydrate metabolism?
Food contains three macronutrients: Carbohydrates (Carbs), Proteins and Fats. All of the macronutrients bring in energy, however the biochemical profile is different for each one.
Carbs are the body’s preferred energy source – particularly for the brain. The biochemical process for converting Carbs to energy is called Carbohydrate metabolism.
Carbs contain many types of energy
molecules, but the main players are
Glucose and Fructose. When they
travel together they are called Sucrose.
When Carbohydrate metabolism is functioning normally, Insulin is released by your Pancreas to unlock your muscle and body cells so Glucose (travelling in the blood) can convert to energy inside your cells.
When there is excess body fat (e.g. around the tummy) it makes the process of converting Glucose into energy more difficult. Insulin becomes less effective so Glucose stays in the blood and eventually converts to long-term stored energy (body fat), which makes the problem even worse.
Spotlight on type 2 diabetes
The inherited risk factors that contribute to the development of T2D are very potent and are passed down through a family. This means that overweight and obese adults, teenagers and children, with a family history of the condition, are at increased risk. Children as young as 3 years old have been diagnosed with T2D.
A prediabetes condition called Insulin Resistance may progress over many years with no obvious symptoms then eventually develop into T2D. A simple blood test can pick up Insulin Resistance before it becomes serious.
Lifestyle-related disease is preventable in the majority of cases.
If there is a history of type 2 diabetes in your family, maintaining healthy food and exercise habits is essential to prevent disease.
Download the ‘Metabolic Harmony / Disharmony’ colour-by-numbers activity and work on it with a child to help them understand and teach others about the difference between a normal and malfunctioning metabolism.
Download the printable A4 flyer for this module.