With over 5% of the Australian population already diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, it is a disease that is having an enormous impact on the health of our community.  Often dismissed as a simple problem that you just need to keep an eye on, you may be shocked to know that T2 Diabetes is the leading cause of both blindness and amputation in Australia!  But what’s scarier is that it’s a lifestyle disease that is mostly preventable.  We caught up with Sam Brown, Accredited Exercise Physiologist with the MNC Physio team, to find out more about how to better manage Type 2 Diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic health condition in Australia with 280 new cases daily and total of 1.7 million people living with the condition. There are 3 main types of diabetes; Type 1 which is an autoimmune disease that isn’t preventable, gestational diabetes which occurs in pregnancy, and our fastest growing concern Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes is a lifestyle disease, meaning it is developed with unhealthy lifestyle habits and in most cases is preventable.

It develops through long term exposure to high levels of blood glucose. With this prolonged exposure, our insulin-releasing cells in our pancreas become ineffective at regulating our blood glucose within its normal ranges or do not produce enough insulin to cope with the demand. Type 2 Diabetes is a progressive condition, meaning that without changing your lifestyle, the body will eventually stop producing insulin and will then require insulin injections to help regulate its blood glucose.

What are the potential health effects?

High blood glucose can damage the bodies blood vessels and nerves and as a result can lead to many secondary chronic health conditions. It is the leading cause of preventable blindness and amputations in Australia and significantly increases your risk of kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke.

The risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes include a family history of the condition, being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander decent, hypertension, obesity, being sedentary, smoking, poor diet and a history of gestational diabetes.

How is it treated?

Medication is often required initially to help improve insulin efficiency, but exercise and diet are the two most modifiable risk factors to prevent Type 2 Diabetes.

Muscles require energy to move, and the primary source of energy is glucose. So regular exercise reduces blood glucose without the need of insulin, and this continues following exercise to replenish glucose stores within the muscles. Resistance exercise helps to increase lean muscle mass, which in turn leads to an increased ability to reduce blood glucose during exercise.

Exercise is also really important in reducing the risk of those secondary health conditions mentioned earlier. It reduces blood pressure by increasing heart and blood vessel health, reduces cholesterol and the associated risk of atherosclerosis, improves circulation and reduces fat mass.

Thanks Sam.  Mid North Coast Physio offer specialised group exercise programs for people with Type 2 Diabetes.  There are Medicare rebates available for these groups with a specific referral from your GP.  To find out more about the groups, call the friendly MNC Physio team on 1300 27 37 47.

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