Diabetes is a disorder of metabolismÂ—the way your body uses digested food for growth and energy. Much of the food you eat is broken down into glucose, the form of sugar in the blood. Glucose is the main source of fuel for your body.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism—the way your body uses digested food for growth and energy. Much of the food you eat is broken down into glucose, the form of sugar in the blood. Glucose is the main source of fuel for your body.
After digestion, glucose enters your bloodstream. Then glucose goes to your body’s cells to be used for energy. For glucose to enter into your cells, insulin must be present. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas, a large gland behind your stomach.
When you eat, your pancreas automatically produces the right amount of insulin to move glucose from your blood into your cells. But if you have type 2 diabetes, your body’s system for producing energy doesn’t work correctly. One or both of the following things can happen:
• Your cells don’t respond properly to your own insulin, a condition called insulin resistance.
• Your pancreas makes little or no insulin.
As a result, glucose builds up in your blood and passes out of your body in your urine. Your body loses its main source of fuel, even though your blood contains large amounts of glucose.
Preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes
A major research study has shown that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed in people at high risk of diabetes, including women with a history of gestational diabetes. People who participated in the study
• lowered their intake of fat and calories
• exercised about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week
These are simple ways to prevent type 2 diabetes:
- Reach and Maintain a Reasonable Body Weight -- Being overweight can keep your body from using insulin properly. Insulin is the hormone that allows your body to use sugar for energy.
- Make Wise Food Choices Most of the Time -- What you eat has a big impact on your health. By making wise food choices, you can help control your body weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
- Be Physically Active Every Day --- Regular exercise tackles several risk factors at once. It helps you lose weight, keeps your cholesterol and blood pressure under control, and helps your body use insulin. Even brisk walking works.
- Take Your Prescribed Medications -- Some people need medication to help control their blood pressure or cholesterol levels. If you do, take your medicines as directed. Ask your doctor whether there are any medicines you can take to prevent type 2 diabetes.
Warning signs of type 2 diabetes
You might have no warning signs at all. Or you might have these signs:
• increased thirst
• increased hunger
• increased urination, especially at night
• weight loss
• blurred vision
• sores that don’t heal
• tingling or numb feet or hands
Health effects of type 2 diabetes
Over time, high blood glucose levels can lead to serious health problems with your eyes, kidneys, nervous system, feet, skin, teeth, and gums. But the most serious problems, especially for women with diabetes, are problems with the heart and blood vessels. Such problems can lead to heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
Diabetes is a more common cause of heart disease in women than in men. When heart disease occurs in women with diabetes, the damage can be worse than it is in men with diabetes. The good news is that you can prevent or delay serious problems by taking care of your health.
Taking care of diabetes requires a team approach involving you, your doctor, a diabetes educator, a nurse, a dietitian, other health care providers, and other specialists as needed. You are an important part of the team because you will be making the decisions about your food, physical activity, and other important parts of your daily diabetes care.
Living well with type 2 diabetes
You can learn how to live a full and active life with diabetes. Taking care of yourself can help delay or prevent diabetes- related health problems. Your health care team can provide care and guidance during all of the stages of your life.
The Healthy Woman: Type 2 Diabetes