Preventing Type 2 diabetes

Vincenzo was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at the age of 60. No-one else in the family had been diagnosed with this condition and Vincenzo’s wife was very worried about his long-term health and how it would impact on the family lifestyle. She had always prided herself on being a good cook and suddenly she lost confidence. Seeing this, their daughter Anna set about finding out about the condition. Anna found a helpful article on the internet which explained everything in very clear language.

Diabetes, known medically as diabetes mellitus, is a metabolism disorder. Metabolism refers to how the body uses and digests food for growth and energy. Most of the food we consume is broken down into glucose. Glucose is a type of sugar in the blood – it is the main source of food in our bodies (our cells).

When food is digested it eventually enters our bloodstream in the form of glucose. Cells utilize the glucose for growth and energy. However, without the help of insulin, the glucose cannot enter our cells.

Insulin, a hormone, is produced by Beta cells in the Islets of Langerhans, which are in the pancreas.

After eating, the pancreas automatically releases an adequate amount of insulin to transport the blood glucose into the cells, which results in lower blood sugar levels.

If you have diabetes, the glucose in the bloodstream does not enter the cells (at all or not enough), so glucose builds up until levels are too high, resulting in a condition called hyperglycemia. This happens for one of two main reasons:

  • The body is producing no insulin – as is teh case in Diabetes Type 1
  • The cells do not respond correctly to the insulin – as occurs in Diabetes Type 2

Consequently, excessive amounts of glucose accumulate in the blood. This blood glucose overload is eventually passed out of the body in urine. Even though the blood has plenty of insulin, the cells of a person with diabetes are not getting their crucial energy and growth requirements.

More information on this subject is available on-line at

The Australian Diabetes Council states that the vast majority of patients who develop Type 2 did so because they were overweight and unfit, and had been overweight and unfit for sometime. This type of diabetes tends to appear later on in life. However, there have been more and more cases of people in their 20’s developing Type 2, but it is still relatively uncommon.

Approximately 85% of all diabetes patients have Type 2.

Preventing Type 2 diabetes

It is estimated that up to 60% of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented. People at risk of Type 2 diabetes can delay and even prevent this disease by following a healthy lifestyle. This includes:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Regular physical activity
  • Making healthy food choices
  • managing blood pressure
  • Managing cholesterol levels
  • Not smoking

Managing Type 2 diabetes

While there is no cure for Type 2 diabetes, the disease can be managed through lifestyle modifications and medication.

Type 2 diabetes can sometimes initially be managed through lifestyle modification including a healthy diet and regular exercise. However, as the disease progresses, people with Type 2 diabetes are often prescribed tablets to control their blood glucose levels. These tablets are intended to be used in conjunction with healthy eating and regular physical activity, not as a substitute. Diabetes tablets are not an oral form of insulin and they require insulin to be present in the body to be effective.

Eventually it may be necessary to start taking insulin to control blood glucose levels, when your body is no longer producing enough insulin of its own. Sometimes tablets may be continued in addition to insulin.

The aim of diabetes management is to keep blood glucose levels as close to “normal” as possible, that is between 4 to 6 mmol/L (fasting), as this will help prevent both short-term and long-term complications.

Regular blood glucose monitoring is necessary to see if the treatment being followed is adequately controlling blood glucose levels.

No matter which medication or management plan your doctor prescribes, make sure you follow their instructions. the pattern and frequesncy will depend on the individual and your circumstances.

It you are concerned that you may have diabetes it is important that you visit your local doctor as soon as possible to discuss your symptoms. More information about diabetes is available on the Australian Diabetes Council website where you can also find a booklet in Italian at  the following link:

published in L’Angolo Della Terza Eta, La Fiamma, 29/7/2013

preventing diabetes in Italian