Type 2 Diabetes is a result of severe insulin resistance (where muscles and liver not able to use insulin very well) or there is limited insulin secretion (where the pancreases cannot make enough insulin) or a combination of both. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreases, and we need it to maintain glucose homeostasis (the correct balance of glucose in the blood). The normal range of glucose in the blood is between 3.5 – 6mmol/L. Impaired glucose tolerance is when fasting glucose is between 6-7mmol/L, and diabetes is when fasting glucose is > 7mmol/L   There is no single cause for Type 2 Diabetes, though genetics and environmental factors appear to be involved.

How does type 2 diabetes develop

The main environmental factors that are linked to Type 2 diabetes are excess abdominal weight, not enough physical activity, and an unbalanced diet – simply put, your Lifestyle

Type 2 diabetes is more often linked to excess body weight, particularly abdominal weight.  Approximately 75-80% of people with type 2 diabetes are obese. Central abdominal visceral (internal) fat is highly metabolically active and releases free fatty acids and inflammatory molecules. These fatty acids prevent insulin from working properly (insulin resistant) which causes a rise in blood glucose levels. The beta cells (in pancreases) respond by producing more insulin in response to the rising blood glucose levels in an attempt to maintain glucose homeostasis, but they become exhausted over time and die. Insulin production diminishes to the extent that plasma glucose concentrations can no longer be maintained at 3.5-6mmol/L. The excess fatty acids also build up in the pancreases and the liver to cause a further decline in the beta cells’ ability to increase the production and release of insulin.

Physical activity helps to control blood glucose levels by reducing insulin resistance in muscle tissues and by using glucose from the blood. Therefore, cells are able to use glucose better and less glucose is available to be turned into fats deposits.

A balanced diet is vital for preventing and controlling Type 2 Diabetes. Eating foods that provide the right balance of macronutrients (fats, proteins and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins minerals, antioxidants, and fibres) without excess calories is the key to controlling blood sugar levels.

How you can control diabetes with diet

Increasing your knowledge of where your energy (calories) is coming from will help you to make better choices about which foods to eat. Energy or calories come for fats, proteins, carbohydrates and alcohol. The ratio of these macronutrients will determine how much and how quickly your blood sugars rise after a meal and over your day. It is important to understand which foods contain carbohydrates, as they have the greatest affect on your blood sugars. Eating moderate amounts of carbohydrates that are high in nutrients, and with a low glycaemic index will improve blood sugar control.

7 steps to control Diabetes

1. Choose a low to moderate carbohydrate intake. The amount of carbohydrates will depend on your current weight and current levels of physical activity.

2. Include low glycaemic foods at each meal.

3. Include a moderate to high fibre intake, with 10 to 15grams of soluble fibre per day

4. Reduce sugar and fructose intakes. Excess calories from sugars particularly from soft drink, cordial, and fruit juices contribute to excess calories and fatty liver and pancreas.

5. Ensure adequate nutrition from a balanced diet by including foods from the 5 food groups to increase your nutrient intakes. Limiting your intakes to a few food groups can reduce your intakes of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants. Low intakes of biotin, chromium, calcium, and vanadium may increase insulin resistance.

6. Balance and control your intakes of fats. Ensure adequate intakes of foods with monosaturated fats from olive oil, nuts, and avocado. Improve the ratio of n6 to n3 fatty acids by increasing omega 3 fats from oily fish or fish oil supplements to reduce inflammation.

7. Reduce weight, especially if you have excess abdominal fat.