The #1 Root Cause of Diabetes, Say Physicians

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Diabetes is a common condition that affects one in 10 people, that's over 37 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention While that's an alarming number, there are ways to help lower the risk.

Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies tells us, "Diabetes is a serious medical condition that can lead to several health complications, including heart disease, kidney damage, and blindness. Fortunately, there are several things that people can do to reduce their chance of developing diabetes.  Here are five lifestyle changes that can help to prevent diabetes. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1. What to Know About Diabetes

Doctor in white medical lab coat points ballpoint pen on anatomical model of human or animal pancreas

Dr. Mitchell says, "Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. When blood sugar levels are too high, it can strain the organs and lead to complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and vision problems. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes usually develops in childhood or adolescence and is caused by an autoimmune reaction that destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes usually develops in adulthood and is characterized by insulin resistance, when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Diabetes can be managed through lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, and medication.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes. However, it is estimated that one in four is undiagnosed and unaware of the condition. This is particularly concerning because diabetes can lead to several serious health complications, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and blindness. That is why it is so important to get screened for diabetes if you think you may be at risk. If you have a family history of diabetes, your doctor might recommend getting screened at an earlier age.  There are several ways to test for diabetes, but the most common is the A1C test. This test measures your average blood sugar levels over two to three months and can be done at your doctor's office or a local clinic. If you have diabetes, it is essential to work with your healthcare team to manage your condition and prevent complications. People with diabetes can live long and healthy lives with proper treatment and care."

2. Not Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight

overweight woman at home lying on the floor, laptop in front of her, prepared to work out on mat according to video

Dr. Mitchell explains, "Being overweight or obese is the number one risk factor for type 2 diabetes. About 80 percent of people with this form of diabetes are overweight or obese. There are several reasons why carrying extra weight increases your risk of developing diabetes. First, excess body fat makes it difficult for the body to use insulin effectively. When the body can't use insulin properly, blood sugar levels rise. This is known as insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a major cause of type 2 diabetes. In addition, carrying extra weight puts extra strain on the body's organs and systems, including the pancreas, which produces insulin. Over time, this can lead to damage and dysfunction. Finally, fat tissue produces hormones contributing to insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels. For all these reasons, people who carry extra weight are at a much higher risk of developing diabetes than those of a healthy weight."

3. Not Getting Enough Exercise

Woman sitting on bed looking at phone bored and in a bad mood

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Not getting enough physical activity can raise a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Physical activity helps control blood sugar (glucose), weight, and blood pressure and helps raise "good" cholesterol and lower "bad" cholesterol. Adequate physical activity can also help reduce the risk of heart disease and nerve damage, which are often problems for people with diabetes."

4. Eat a Balanced Diet

Man eating pizza having a takeaway at home relaxing resting

Dr. Mitchell reminds us, "Eating a healthy diet is essential for many reasons. It can help you maintain a healthy weight, have more energy, and avoid heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Diabetes is a condition that affects how your body uses blood sugar. If you have diabetes, your body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't use it as well as it should. This causes blood sugar levels to rise. Over time, high blood sugar levels can lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, and eye problems. Eating a healthy diet is one of the best ways to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. A healthy diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Limiting sugar, saturated fat, and trans fat is also essential. If you already have diabetes, eating a healthy diet can help you control your blood sugar levels. It can also help you prevent or delay complications of the disease."

5. Smoking Increases the Risk of Diabetes

no smoking sign

Dr. Mitchell says, "Smoking is a leading cause of preventable death in the United States and a significant risk factor for developing diabetes. Smokers are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-smokers, and the risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked daily. Quitting smoking not only lowers your risk of developing diabetes but also helps to improve blood sugar control if you already have the disease. In addition, quitting smoking decreases your chances of developing other serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer. If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your health. Talk to your doctor about ways to help you quit smoking for good."

6. Why It's Important to Monitor Blood Sugar Levels

Senior woman checking her blood glucose level.

Dr. Mitchell shares, "Monitoring blood sugar is essential in preventing diabetes because it allows people to see how their diet and lifestyle choices affect their blood sugar levels. For example, if someone eats many sugary foods, they might see a spike in their blood sugar levels. By monitoring their blood sugar, they can change their diet or lifestyle to help prevent their blood sugar from reaching diabetic levels. In addition, monitoring blood sugar can also help people with diabetes to keep their condition under control. They can adjust their insulin doses accordingly by knowing their blood sugar levels. Thus, monitoring blood sugar is an essential tool in both preventing and managing diabetes."

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