How Do You Get Diabetes?
The food that we eat is changed into glucose, which is a form of sugar. The body; rather the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin that allows this glucose to be used by every cell in the form of energy. When insulin production is disturbed or when the produced insulin cannot be used by the body to allow the glucose to be used as energy, the person suffers from diabetes mellitus. As a result the blood sugar level increases.1
If the insulin production is impaired, it is known as type-1 diabetes and if the insulin utilization is impaired, it is known as type-2 diabetes. Inability to use the produced insulin is known as insulin resistance. Type-1 Diabetes is common amongst children and type-2 Diabetes is common amongst adults. If diabetes occurs, that is, if the blood glucose level is high, it can lead to problems in different organs, such as heart, nerve, kidney and damage to the eyes as well as the blood vessels.2
14 Things that Increase Diabetes Risk or Risk Factors of Diabetes
There are various factors that can increase the risk of diabetes in patients. Knowing these risk factors can help people to prevent this occurrence and enjoy a diabetes free life. These factors are:
Weight Can Increase Diabetes Risk:
The most important risk factor that can contribute in the occurrence of type-2 diabetes is being overweight. The more you are overweight, the more you will be insulin resistant.3 Following the proper weight chart that corresponds with the height of the person is the best way to stay in shape and healthy. Make sure you keep your weight in check to ward off this risk factor for diabetes.4
Age Factor for Diabetes:
Type 2 diabetes has a strong association with age. The risk of Type 2 Diabetes increases with age and if you are above 45 years in age, you are more likely to acquire diabetes. Aging is an inevitable condition that cannot be prevented for avoiding the risk of diabetes.
Family History & Diabetes Risk:
Family history is yet another inevitable factor that increases the risk of diabetes. If your father, mother or even if your siblings and other immediate relatives have had diabetes, you are more likely to get diabetes. In such a case, it is very important that you consult with your doctor and maintain other preventive measures to avoid diabetes.
Lack of Exercise or Physical Activity Puts You at a Risk for Diabetes:
Lack of physical activity is a strong factor that increases your risk for diabetes. This is also associated with the factor of weight, as without exercise, you will not be able to stay healthy. Make sure to include some physical activity in your daily routine to keep this diabetes risk factor in check.
Ethnic Races & Their Chances of Getting Diabetes:
Why and how race is associated with the risk of diabetes is unknown, but there are a few races that have a higher risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes in them and they are – Native America, African American, Hispanic American and Pacific Islander.5
How Diet Can Increase the Risk of Getting Diabetes?
Risk of diabetes can be significantly increased if you indulge in a high calorie, high fat and high cholesterol diet. Sometimes, early exposure to cow’s milk and similar formula as well as cereals, even before the age of 4 months, and also a low vitamin D diet, have been associated as risk factors for diabetes. However, there has been no scientific reason or proof for this, yet this is a risk factor that is associated more with type-1 diabetes.
Use of Statins and Similar Drugs Can Cause Diabetes:
Statins are medications that are prescribed to treat high levels of cholesterol. However, recent studies have shown that these drugs can significantly increase the risk of type-2 diabetes mellitus. Those, who already have diabetes mellitus and are taking statins, the fasting sugar levels, are increased by 3 mg/dL. The reason is that these cholesterol lowering drugs can increase the insulin resistance of a person and also impair the ability of the pancreas to secrete insulin.6
Low Birth Weight and its Link to Diabetes Risk:
People, who were born with low birth weight that is even less than 2.5 kg, are more likely to get diabetes as they grow up. Not only the child, but also the women, who give birth to babies weighing less than 2.5 kg are also likely to develop diabetes in the later years.7
This kind of diabetes is associated with pregnancy and occurs in about 4% of all the pregnant women. Although it disappears after the delivery of the baby, it recurs within 15 years in about 40 to 60% of all women, who had gestational diabetes.8
PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
The risk of developing type-2 diabetes is high in women with PCOS. PCOS is a condition that is caused by imbalance of hormones in the body of the women that leads to formation of cysts on the ovaries. It is important to get appropriate treatment for PCOS to prevent diabetes.
Presence of auto-Antibodies
Auto-antibodies are damaging immune system cells, and the people who have these auto-antibodies are at high risk of developing type-1 diabetes. However, it is not mandatory that having these auto-antibodies would mean obvious occurrence of diabetes.
Abnormal Cholesterol Levels
Low levels of “good” cholesterol or high density lipoprotein in the body and increased levels of triglycerides are two common risk factors for acquiring type-2 diabetes.
High Blood Pressure
Those, who have a blood pressure measuring higher than 140/90 mm Hg, are at an increased risk of developing diabetes.
Food habit has a direct impact on various diseases and syndromes and diabetes is strongly associated with consumption of white flour, white sugar and white rice etc. Highly processed carbohydrates and foods made from these ingredients like pasta, muffins, cakes, breads and crackers can significantly increase your risk of acquiring diabetes.
Other foods include sugar-sweetened beverages, fatty meats and red and processed meats like bacon and hot dogs; full cream, full-fat milk, butters, cheese etc. are also risky foods for diabetes occurrence. This is because these have unhealthy saturated and trans-fats that can increase the cholesterol levels.
Preventive Measures for Diabetes
Avoiding these above mentioned risk factors is the best way to prevent the possibility of the occurrence of diabetes. The preventive measures that you can take against the diabetes risk factors are:
Following a low fat diet and doing regular exercise to make sure that you are not overweight will keep your weight in control and help in preventing diabetes.
- Have a steady and moderate exercise program as consulted with your doctor. Maintaining at least 30 minutes of working out, exercising and other physical activity can help you to reduce weight and maintain a good weight and thereby avoid diabetes.
- Avoid saturated fatty foods and switch to diets that include low fat or toned milk and dairy products.
- Instead of having processed red meat, have lean and skinless meat, fish like sardines and salmon, grass fed beef and skinless poultry is important to prevent diabetes.
- Do not over indulge in drinks and beverages that need added sugar like tea, coffee, aerated drinks, soda and juices etc., as they increase the risk for developing diabetes.
- Studies have shown that a moderate consumption of alcohol can help the insulin to get into the cells and use the glucose as energy. So, having a drink or two a day is a good method to prevent type 2 diabetes.
- Managing your blood pressure level is also helpful, which can help you prevent diabetes from occurring.9,10
Diabetes is not a condition that cannot be prevented. Even if it occurs, it can well be managed with significant amount of physical exercise and change in food habits, along with necessary medicines. However, if diabetes is ignored and left unattended, it can damage other body organs and reduce the patient’s lifespan.
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