Diabetes is a chronic disorder marked by increased blood sugar. Type 1 (juvenile or insulin-dependent) diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. Type 2 diabetes (T2D) occurs when the body produces insulin but it doesn't work well it is unable to process glucose appropriately or lower glucose levels effectively due to insulin resistance.
T2D used to be referred to as adult-onset diabetes but it is becoming more common in children and teenagers as well as adults of all ages. It now accounts for 90-95% of all diabetes. Glucose is needed for cells for energy and growth. Insulin helps glucose (and some fats and proteins) enter cells for either oxidation or storage. With insulin resistance, glucose can't properly enter cells. Instead of the cells using glucose as fuel, it builds up in the bloodstream, leading to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
For a while, the pancreatic beta-cells pump out more insulin to compensate for the added demand so blood sugar levels stay under control. But eventually the pancreas can't keep up and the body tips over into diabetes. As insulin output falls, blood sugar climbs.
In the beginning stages of diabetes, many people have no symptoms or mild symptoms that aren't suspected of being diabetes. Symptoms may include increased thirst, increased hunger, increased urination (especially at night), sores that don't heal, fatigue, unaccounted-for weight loss, blurred vision. Although T2D was thought to involve genetic components, it is becoming clear that, if genes are involved, it is caused by primarily environmental factors including diet, activity levels, chemical exposures, medications, etc.
The leading cause of T2D is excess weight or obesity. Approximately 80% of people with T2D are overweight or obese. Gastric bypass surgery for the obesity may lower blood sugar and eliminate the need for diabetes drugs. But nutrient deficiencies and other complications can develop.
Lifestyle is the foremost and often only cause of T2D. Studies show that intensive lifestyle intervention is very effective in preventing T2D and improving the health of people with diabetes. If you act early, keep the weight off, and maintain a healthy lifestyle, you can put this disease in remission forever.
A healthful diet and exercise have been shown to beat drugs for improving fitness, glycemic control, insulin sensitivity, blood fats and cardiovascular risk factors. When muscles are exercising, glucose and other nutrients can enter muscle cells even in the absence of insulin.
T2D is associated with modern processed-foods; eating whole natural foods to optimize nutrient status can have profound effects. Avoid refined sugars like sucrose, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup; soda and other refined and highly-processed items including white rice, white bread, processed meats, refined salt, and the alike. Include plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, and dairy products.