Q: What causes diabetes?
A: Considering that at least 26 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, it is definitely a topic of concern. Type 2 diabetes, a disease in which the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells do not properly use insulin, is the most common form of diabetes and is what I will be referring to in this article. Diabetes leads to complications such as heart disease and stroke, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease (neuropathy) and amputation. The American Diabetes Association estimates that in 2007 our country spent $218 billion on diabetes care. I don’t have any updated figures, but that cost has certainly risen since then. Most importantly, diabetes costs people their health and well-being and ultimately their lives. Diabetes is a very serious disease that should not be taken lightly. Here are four risk factors that can lead to diabetes (specifically type 2 diabetes):
- Being overweight/obese
- The more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to insulin
- Inactivity (sedentary lifestyle)
- Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up glucose as an energy source and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.
- Poor diet
- Poor diet can lead to increased weight gain
- High intake of saturated/trans fat (found in fast food, desserts, etc.) can lower your HDL and raise triglycerides, which increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- High intake of refined carbohydrates (soda, desserts, grains that are not whole grain such as white bread, etc.) can increase insulin resistance
- Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases if a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes
After reading this, one message is very clear – most of the risk factors that cause type 2 diabetes are preventable.