Our diet and lifestyle play essential parts in ensuring the quality of our health. However, we can become susceptible to certain conditions if we’re not careful. One condition that requires extensive care is Type 2 Diabetes.
According to the International Diabetes Federation, at least 90% of all diabetes diagnoses can be attributed to this type, which is alarming.
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 Diabetes is the most diagnosed type of diabetes. Unlike Type 1 diabetes, characterized by insulin dependence, Type 2 is insulin-resistant, i.e., the cells do not respond normally to insulin.
Insulin is a hormone created by the body’s pancreas that enables the body to use blood sugar for energy. However, Type 2 diabetes is when the cells cannot respond to the insulin the pancreas produces. As a result, the pancreas keeps producing more insulin. Eventually, the pancreas cannot meet the body’s needs, and the person’s blood sugar rises, leading to serious health problems like heart and kidney disease and vision loss.
Type 2 diabetes is not instant. Its symptoms take years to manifest, yet it is hard to spot unless one takes a blood sugar test. While the condition is commonly diagnosed in older adults, people of all ages can get this condition due to the increasing levels of obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle.
What Are the Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes?
The following are common symptoms of Type 2 diabetes. However, if you suspect you may have the condition, consider getting your blood sugar tested by your doctor.
- Urinating frequently at night;
- Experience constant thirst despite drinking lots of water;
- Losing weight without trying;
- Often feel very hungry;
- Blurry vision;
- Numb and tingling sensations on the hands or feet;
- Constant fatigue;
- Dry skin;
- Sores that heal slowly; and
- An increasing number of infections than normal
How Does Obesity Lead to Type 2 Diabetes?
Excess body fat due to an unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to an individual’s development of Type 2 diabetes.
While not every overweight and obese person has diabetes, their risk factor for developing the condition increases due to their lifestyle.
The reason why obesity often leads to Type 2 diabetes is that excess fat interferes with normal hormone production. Excess glucose, which can be used for energy later, is stored in the liver. However, if a person is overweight, this storage space generally reserved for glucose is filled with fat. As a result, excess glucose remains in the bloodstream. When this happens, the pancreas overcompensates by creating more insulin to keep the glucose out of the blood. When the pancreas continuously overcompensates, it overworks itself, eventually becoming less likely to produce insulin. As a result, the body becomes more susceptible to developing Type 2 diabetes.
What Are Some Common Risk Factors For Developing Type 2 Diabetes?
Aside from obesity, some individuals are most likely at risk of developing this condition than most. Some factors one needs to consider first include the following:
- Family history
- Stress management
- Gut Health
How Do I Know If I’m At Risk?
While the most reliable tool in determining whether you have Type 2 diabetes is to see a doctor, there are ways to check if you are likely to develop the condition in the future.
For instance, the Finnish Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment Form is an effective questionnaire that measures an individual’s probability of developing Type 2 diabetes in the following ten years. It also provides straightforward advice on how respondents can lessen their risk. The questionnaire is fast, easy, and readily available for everyone.
What Can I Do To Lower My Risk For Type 2 Diabetes?
While a person can’t change their age or genetic disposition, there are ways in which a person can greatly reduce their chances of developing the condition. Some factors you can manage include your:
- Lifestyle; and
- Eating habits
Additionally, it also helps to stop smoking and reduce alcohol consumption.
1. Manage Your Weight.
According to The Nutrition Source on the Harvard website, excess weight is the most important cause of Type 2 diabetes. The factor is so significant that an obese person is 20 to 40 times more likely to develop the condition than a person within the healthy weight range. Additionally, a person who loses 7–10% of their current weight can reduce their chances of developing the condition by half!
If you want to reduce your Type 2 diabetes risk, consider managing your weight in correlation with your height.
2. Exercise more frequently.
Frequent exercise enables the muscle cells to use insulin and glucose more efficiently. This instance helps lower your risk for Type 2 diabetes. Aside from weight loss, exercise also helps tone your muscles, strengthen your bones and joints, and help reduce stressors—all essential to achieving holistic health.
3. Eat healthy foods.
Frequent exercise and weight management are not enough. Aside from our lifestyle, our diet also plays an integral part in ensuring our health. Diets rich in ultra-processed foods can increase one’s chances of developing Type 2 diabetes due to the lack of fiber and essential vitamins.
In a 2019 study, diets rich in ultra-processed foods like sugary drinks, sweet and salty snacks, and mass-produced packaged pastries or treats can significantly increase a person’s risk. A person who increases around 10% of ultra-processed foods in their diet develops a 15% increase in developing Type 2 diabetes.
To avoid increasing your risk, consciously change your diet to whole and natural foods. You can also improve your diet by learning to cook to adjust the ingredients, and be more cognizant of what you put in your body.
Takeaway: Type 2 diabetes is an increasing concern as more younger people are diagnosed with this condition. Fortunately, the disease is preventable, provided a person changes their diet and lifestyle. While some people are more at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, the only way to get an accurate diagnosis is to visit a doctor and get a blood sugar test. For more practical tips on reducing your risks of developing Type 2 diabetes, consult with your local physician.