Diabetes basics

How Type 2 Diabetes Affects Your Body

When a person eats, the sugar or glucose from digested food enters the bloodstream. Glucose then moves from the blood into the body’s cells with the help of insulin. Insulin helps “open the door” to cells in the body to allow glucose to enter. As type 2 diabetes develops, the body’s cells resist insulin, and beta cells, cells in the pancreas that release insulin, need to release much more insulin than they normally would.

In people with type 2 diabetes, the beta cells gradually stop releasing enough insulin to help bring sugar into cells, causing higher levels of blood sugar. These beta cells gradually stop working the way they should and die off. As the number of beta cells goes down, the pancreas releases less and less insulin. As a result, glucose does not make its way into the cells and ends up staying in the blood, causing high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia. Too much sugar in the blood can affect the body in ways that eventually cause other health problems, including blindness, foot problems, and kidney failure.
Weight and Type 2 Diabetes

People may develop type 2 diabetes for a combination of reasons. For some people, type 2 diabetes runs in their family. Others develop the disease due to obesity. The risk for the disease increases as people age or gain weight.

Maintaining a healthy weight is an important goal for anyone with type 2 diabetes. Therefore, healthy eating habits and some form of safe physical activity should be a part of your type 2 diabetes management program. If you are overweight, weight loss will improve your body’s ability to use insulin, and may help improve the levels of fats circulating in your bloodstream. To determine a weight loss goal that’s right for you, start by discussing healthier eating habits as well as safe and sensible activities with your diabetes care team.

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