Originally published at the Medical Fitness Network
There are many treatments for Type II Diabetes (which will be referred to simply as diabetes in this article) but none come with the level of benefits seen by the implementation of a proper exercise program. This is a tall order but exercise is effective for the treatment of insulin resistance and diabetes in three areas. These areas are inflammation, the cell mitochondria (where the cell generates power), and hyperinsulinemia (high blood insulin).2 Treating these areas with exercise goes beyond the benefits of treating just diabetes. In turn, you will be helping prevent other health issues associated with diabetes such as heart disease, stroke, and circulation issues. The questions is how does exercise do this and what kind of exercise is necessary?1
To understand how exercise treats diabetes, it is important to understand that diabetes is the end result of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can be illustrated in that: when we eat something with carbohydrates or sugar, our body breaks it down into blood sugar known as glucose. This glucose triggers a response from our pancreas to produce the hormone insulin. Insulin in turn shuttles the blood sugar into the cells to be used as energy. However, when someone becomes insulin resistant the cells do not respond to the insulin’s attempt to shuttle the blood sugar into the cell, so the pancreas produces more insulin to get the same job done. In essence, the cells are developing a tolerance to the insulin and in order to get the blood sugar absorbed the cells begin to require more and more insulin to do the same job. This leads to the blood retaining the blood sugar for prolonged periods of time as well as an elevated presence of insulin. When someone has prolonged high blood sugar, we call this hyperglycemia and the person is said to be diabetic. Having high blood sugar is dangerous due to the stress it places on cells. It can cause many problems up to and including death.
In the area of inflammation, it is known that not all inflammation is the same. Inflammation can be acute — meaning it is brought on for a short period of time — which happens with activities such as exercise or when tissue undergoes some sort of trauma. Inflammation can also be chronic, meaning it is persistent and recurrent.
Acute inflammation is necessary, and healthy, because it begins the healing and repair process by bringing in white blood cells, and ridding the tissue of damaged cells. Inflammation is required otherwise the body would be unable to heal.
Chronic inflammation can be found in many conditions, such as autoimmune diseases, prolonged injury/infection, obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases. When inflammation remains present, even at a low level, it begins to damage the body’s cells. Science now knows that:2
What is known is: