Are You at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes?

Mar 26, 2018

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More 100 million adults in the United States have diabetes or are at high risk of developing it. What’s more, roughly seven million of those who have it are completely unaware of it.

More 100 million adults in the United States have diabetes or are at high risk of developing it. What’s more, roughly seven million of those who have it are completely unaware of it.

Blood sugar problems typically start cropping up years before Type 2 diabetes develops, which gives you a head start to do something about it. Knowing the risk factors gives you a chance to make changes and stop diabetes in its tracks. Find out what puts you at risk, so you can take steps to protect your health.

Importance of blood sugar

You may not think about it when you’re eating carbohydrate-containing foods, but your body goes to work converting carbs to glucose, its primary fuel source. Every cell in your body needs sugar for fuel, but having too much in your blood is toxic to your nerves and organs. Your brain’s rich cellular structure makes it the most sugar-hungry organ, using about half of the glucose in your body to meet energy demands for tasks like thinking, learning, and memory.

Some of the extra sugar is stored in your liver. Historically, humans weren’t sure where their next meal was coming from, so stored glucose met energy demands during long periods between meals. Today, you don’t have to fight saber tooth tigers or forage for your meals, but stored sugar serves the same purpose. It’s meant to keep you going until your next meal.

Understanding blood sugar regulation

When you eat foods that contain carbohydrates, your pancreas releases the hormone insulin to essentially knock on the door of your cells and tell them to let glucose in, so that it leaves the bloodstream.

Insulin resistance is the hallmark of Type 2 diabetes and happens when your cells become insensitive to insulin, causing blood sugar levels to remain elevated. In response, your pancreas secretes more insulin, kicking off a vicious cycle that ends with your body’s inability to keep blood glucose within a healthy range.

Risk factors you can’t change

Some things that are outside of your control put you at risk for Type 2 diabetes, such as having a family history of the condition. If you have a close relative diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, you have an increased chance of developing it.

Your ethnic background is another risk factor, with African, Asian, Hispanic, and Native Americans having a greater likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Additionally, the older you get, the higher your risk. Your risk goes up as you reach age 45 and older.

Risk factors you can do something about

The good news is that many risk factors are under your control, and making positive changes can significantly lower your chance of developing blood sugar problems. Diet and lifestyle factors that raise the likelihood of diabetes include:

  • Being overweight or obese

  • Smoking

  • Drinking too much alcohol

  • Not getting enough exercise

  • Eating too much processed sugar

  • Eating too little fiber

  • Having high cholesterol

One or more of these risk factors paves the way for Type 2 diabetes to develop. Thankfully, Type 2 diabetes is a largely preventable condition, if you make the necessary changes. Modest lifestyle changes can prevent roughly 90% of diabetes cases, according to research.

Even if you have Type 2 diabetes, making healthy changes goes a long way in preventing it from progressing and causing complications like nerve damage.

Drop by DOCCS for a complete diabetes screening. Call to request an appointment today, or use our convenient booking tool here on the website.

DOCCS Urgent and Primary Health Care
✆ Phone (appointments): tel:321-752-7100