The “Cure” for Diabetes
Exercise Therapy for Type II Diabetes
Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic disorders characterised by high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin production, insulin action or both. In this newsletter we will specifically be discussing Type II diabetes mellitus.
Approximately 1.7million Australians have diabetes of which Type II makes up 85-90% of all cases.
“Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition in which the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and/or gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas” (Diabetes Australia). Type II Diabetes is closely linked with lifestyle factors such as a high sugar diet and lack of exercise, but can also have a genetic factor.
Treatment of Diabetes
In the first statement from Diabetes Australia (listed above) they state that Type II diabetes is a progressive disease. This indicates that as time passes the disease will continue to worsen regardless of treatment. Other progressive diseases include Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and more. Whilst treatment can help slow the progression of these diseases, symptoms of these illnesses will undoubtedly worsen over time until new research and treatment is discovered.
The fact that Type II diabetes has been given this “progressive” tag is due to how we treat it. Traditionally, when treated by medication alone we often see the continual worsening of the diabetes disease causing the dosage of medication to increase in response. This continues to occur until we reach poorly controlled instances of organ failure, cardiovascular disease, neuropathies and so on. This is because we are treating the symptoms and not the disease. Let me explain:
As diabetes is clinically diagnosed by elevated blood glucose levels the traditional methods of treatment have been focused on reducing this. When we do this we are missing the point. Diabetes as a disease is characterised by insulin resistance which increases glucose in the bloodstream. So when the pharmaceutical treatments we give to patients are all targetted at blood glucose, we are treating a symptom and not the cause itself which is insulin resistance.
Exercise and Type II Diabetes
Exercise looks to target the source of the problem which is insulin resistance. When we exercise a cell we bipass the need for insulin to absorb the glucose in our muscle and fat cells and we experience both a short term and a longer term period of increased insulin sensitivity. To do this efficiently, exercise programs for patients with diabetes focus on large scale muscle activation as well as aerobic activity. This affects the highest amount of glucose uptake possible through the increase of insulin sensitivity. If this activity is sustained long enough, and we see a reduction in medication whilst also seeing the blood glucose level normalise, we can then concur that insulin resistance has been reduced and the disease is cured!
Diabetes Management at FORGE
Here at Forge we see a number of clients with type II diabetes. Whilst the basics remain the same, each patient is assessed indivudally and prescribed tailored exercise based on their current levels of fitness and abilities. We offer these individualised programs to our patients through personalised sessions, group classes or home/gym prescriptions, whichever is best suited to the patient. Every patient has a different journey and at FORGE we are here to help every step of the way.
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