Type 2 Diabetes affects many people in Ireland– it is estimated that almost 200,000 Irish people have type 2 Diabetes – and many people don’t even know that they have it!
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 Diabetes is a condition where you either do not make enough insulin or where the insulin you do make is not working properly.What does this mean?
Normally, when you eat food, your blood sugar level will increase as you digest your food. When your blood sugar goes up, your body releases insulin, whose job it is to help to get your blood sugar back to normal levels. When you have type 2 Diabetes, it usually means that you are making insulin, but your insulin is not working. This means that your blood sugar level stays high.
Why is high blood sugar a problem?
Too much sugar in your blood can lead to problems with your arteries. People with Type 2 diabetes often have more heart disease than people who do not have diabetes and may also have problems with their eyes and feet. This is why you need to look after your blood sugar levels.
How is Type 2 Diabetes Treated?
Everyone who has Type 2 Diabetes needs to follow a healthy diet that limits sugar and balances fat and carbohydrates (such as bread, potatoes and pasta).Your doctor will refer you to a dietitian for advice on managing your diet.Some people with Type 2 Diabetes may also need tablets or insulin injections as well as following a healthy diet. Your doctor will advise you about any medicines you may need.Your dietitian will be able to advise you about balancing your diet to control your blood sugar levels.
Exercise is also very important to help keep blood sugar levels healthy. Exercise helps to ‘use up’ the sugar in your blood and it also helps your insulin to work.
Getting to a healthy weight will also help.Being overweight, especially if your weight is around your tummy, can make it harder for your insulin to work. Getting to a healthy weight can help your insulin to work and will help to keep your blood sugar at a healthy level.
Do I need to eat Special Foods?
There is no need for you to eat special diabetic foods. Someone with Type 2 Diabetes can eat most of the foods that everyone else can eat – you just need to limit sugar and to balance your meals. Foods that are sweetened with sweeteners can be a good alternative to sugary treats but you do need to speak to your dietitian about how and when to use these foods.