Actress and model Halle Berry is no stranger to the limelight. But she made headlines a few years ago about “curing” her Type 1 diabetes and weaning herself off insulin. For the record, there’s no cure for Type 1 diabetes and her previous comments were misinformed and potentially dangerous. She probably was diagnosed with Type 2 instead of Type 1.
Nowadays, she owns her condition. Beauty, fame, and an Academy Award are all things Halle Berry. “Type 2 diabetes patient” was not a label she was planning on, but she is making the most of her condition.
Keep reading to find a quick overview of Type 2 diabetes, as well as how it has changed this popular actress’ life. She may have made a splash in the diabetes community with her remarks, but a change in lifestyle and attitude has made her a diabetic celebrity to watch.
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
If you have diabetes, an inability to process glucose causes abnormally high blood sugar levels in your body. When your blood sugar levels go up higher than normal, the condition is called hyperglycemia. But there are 2 forms of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2.
People with Type 2 diabetes don’t use the insulin in their body properly. At first, your pancreas may try to make more insulin, but it won’t be sufficient to regulate blood sugar levels over time. In contrast, those with Type 1 diabetes don’t produce insulin at all.
Type 2 diabetes develops over time. And you may not know you have it because the signs and symptoms may be so mild that you may not realize you are sick. Some signs to watch for include:
- Increased hunger
- Increased thirst and urination
- Weight loss
- Frequent infections or slow-healing sores
- Blurred vision
- Patches of dark skin
Risk Factors and Complications
Scientists don’t fully understand why the pancreas stops producing enough insulin, or why some people become insulin resistant. But there are some factors that may make you more likely to develop this disease. They are:
How your body distributes fat in your body makes a difference. And if your body stores fat mainly in your abdomen, you’re at a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes than others who store fat in their hips or thighs.
If you’re overweight, that is one of the biggest risk factors for Type 2 diabetes. Excess fatty tissue may make your cells resistant to insulin. However, you don’t have to be overweight to get Type 2 diabetes.
In addition, having a sibling or parent with this type of diabetes makes it more likely that you may develop the disease, too.
Inactivity may go hand-in-hand with being overweight and the higher risk for Type 2 diabetes. Also, if you aren’t physically active, you aren’t burning up glucose and your cells become less sensitive to insulin.
Certain ethnicities are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, including Hispanics, American Indians, Africans, and Asians.
Pre-diabetics already have higher than normal blood sugar levels. But it isn’t high enough to qualify as diabetes. Left untreated, however, it’s just a matter of time before the pre-diabetic condition transitions to full diabetes.
As you get older, your risk for Type 2 diabetes gets higher. After age 45, your risk potential may become higher because of muscle loss, lack of exercise, and weight gain.
Women with certain conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, or gestational diabetes while pregnant, may be at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
One of the biggest worries for Type 2 diabetics is the potential to develop serious complications. Because diabetes can affect major organs, some possible complications include heart disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, eye damage, hearing impairment, foot damage, skin conditions, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Treatment and Prognosis
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Type 2 diabetes. However, with the right lifestyle changes, you can manage the disease if you have it, or lower your risk for Type 2 diabetes if you don’t have it.
If you are diabetic or want to lower your risks, the 3 main things you may need to take a look at are:
- Physical Activity
- Weight loss
For some diabetics, closer monitoring and medication are necessary. But making healthy lifestyle choices remains the main way to keep Type 2 diabetes under control.
Eating healthy with low-fat and high-fiber foods may help control blood sugar levels. Staying away from refined carbs, sweets, and anything with a high glycemic index can also help you manage your glucose levels.
In addition, regular aerobic exercise is also key to keeping your blood sugar low. You may also have to monitor your blood sugar levels to keep on target. Insulin therapies and diabetic medicines aren’t always prescribed but depend on your individual situation. Your doctor may use a combination of measures to help you control your blood sugar levels.
Halle Berry: Type 2 Diabetes in the Spotlight
Halle Berry may have been the last celebrity anyone thought would be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. She is thin and relatively athletic. Doesn’t Type 2 diabetes only affect overweight, inactive people? Not necessarily.
Although people that are overweight and inactive are at higher risks for getting Type 2 diabetes, anyone can get it. In Halle Berry’s case, however, it may have been her racial decent that put her in a higher risk category. Because she has a white English mother and a black African-American father, she may have been genetically predisposed to the disease.
A lifestyle overhaul was just the first step for Halle Berry. Type 2 diabetes causes insulin resistance. So, Berry had to change the way she ate, how often she exercised, and get used to monitoring her blood sugar several times daily.
Now, though, she calls her condition a gift that gave her strength and toughness. She uses her unique perspective as she speaks out about living with diabetes, and as a spokesperson for a pharmaceutical company that specializes in diabetic products, Novo Nordisk.
The American Diabetes Association reported 9.4% of the American population in 2015 had diabetes. And celebrities don’t have a special immunity from the disease. It can truly develop in anyone at any time, though there are risk factors that may make some people more predisposed to the disease than others.
Celebrities like Halle Berry use their fame to create a dialogue in mainstream media about living with this disease, giving voice to the many faceless diabetics in the country.
Lastly, promoting healthy eating, exercise, and lifestyle choices are the new norm for Halle Berry. Type 2 diabetics are also taking note and following her example.