The likelihood of a person developing type 2 diabetes depends on a variety of risk factors, with some being easier to control than others. You can modify, or control, certain risk factors, such as your diet and the amount of exercise you do. On the other hand, other risk factors, such as age or family history of diabetes, are beyond his control. When one is aware of the risk factors that one can manage, then one can take steps to minimize the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.
4 Important Risk Factors You Can Control to Avoid Type 2 Diabetes
It is especially important to control the following risk factors if you have a family history of diabetes.
1 Overweight and obesity
When a person is obese and overweight, excessive levels of adipose tissue, or body fat, release inflammatory proteins, hormones, and other molecules that can trigger insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when liver, muscle and fat cells are no longer sensitive to insulin and stop storing glucose as glycogen. When this happens, glucose stays in the blood longer and blood sugar rises. To lower blood sugar, the pancreas produces more insulin to overcome the low cell response. If a person cannot reverse this process by lifestyle changes or medication, they will likely develop type 2 diabetes.
Smoking can increase the risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Smokers are 30-40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-smokers.
Nicotine can raise blood sugar, and smokers often need to take more insulin than usual to keep their blood sugar within a healthy range. If a person with type 2 diabetes feels ready to quit smoking, they should first seek medical advice. During the transition to a tobacco-free lifestyle, blood sugar may drop more than normal, but it will eventually stabilize.
3 A lack of physical activity
Physical activity has many benefits. In addition to improving cardiovascular and mental health, it can reduce inflammation and insulin resistance. According to a 2017 review, all forms of exercise, including aerobic training and resistance training, can improve blood sugar regulation and prevent or reverse obesity-associated type 2 diabetes. Along with a balanced diet, exercise is one of the first symptom management strategies doctors recommend for people living with prediabetes or who have recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
4 Mental health issues
People with diabetes may also suffer from one or more mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. When people don’t get treatment for these problems, it can often make diabetes worse. This is because when a person feels anxious or stressed, they may eat more processed foods and exercise less, which can cause blood sugar levels to rise. Stress hormones themselves can also cause blood sugar levels to rise or fall unpredictably.
These risk factors that we cannot control
Some risk factors are beyond your control. For example, sharing similar genes with family members with diabetes.
1 Family history of diabetes
When a person’s parents or siblings have type 2 diabetes, that person is more likely to have the disease themselves. This also applies to undiagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. If a person has prediabetes, their blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. Some evidence suggests that when people are aware of a familial risk for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, they change their behaviors so that their risk goes down. Using family history as a diagnostic tool allows doctors to spot diabetes before symptoms appear or worsen, resulting in better health outcomes.
As people age, their bodies are not able to metabolize carbohydrates as efficiently, which can lead to higher than normal blood sugar levels. Additionally, muscles, liver, and fat cells also lose sensitivity to insulin, which increases blood sugar and insulin resistance. If an older person is living with obesity, they are likely to have greater insulin resistance than a non-obese person. This underscores the importance of maintaining a balanced diet and a healthy amount of physical activity well into old age. Regular physical activity and a healthy diet are more effective in people with diabetes over 60 because they reduce muscle loss and compensate for insulin resistance.
According to a 2017 study, black, Latino, Native American and Asian populations are at greater risk of type 2 diabetes than white populations. This can be explained in particular by inequalities in health care. Additionally, these populations may also receive less effective treatments than white people.
Prevention of type 2 diabetes: some useful tips
To prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes:
– have a healthy diet, low in refined carbohydrates, salt and sugar
– engage in at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
– stop smoking, if necessary
– avoid drinking alcohol or limit its consumption, if necessary.
Controllable risk factors for type 2 diabetes are smoking and obesity. However, some risk factors, such as age, are uncontrollable. With age, the body is less and less efficient at regulating blood sugar, which increases the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. A person has a greater risk of developing this disease if it runs in their family. However, if she eats a balanced diet, gets active, and doesn’t smoke, she has a good chance of keeping her blood sugar in a healthy range.