Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, afflicting more than 24 million Americans,[i] some of whom are patients at our Orange County walk-in clinic. Unlike type 1 diabetes, which is a genetic condition and is inherited at birth, type 2 diabetes develops in adults mostly due to health and lifestyle factors. Many people do not even realize they have the disease, which can cause serious health issues, such as blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage, and circulatory problems, if not treated.
The most important way to combat type 2 diabetes is for patients to take steps to prevent developing it. Factors such as exercise, diet, and other lifestyle issues can all determine your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Understanding what causes diabetes, and taking actions to avoid those causes, will greatly reduce your chances of developing the disease, as well as improve your overall health.
What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is caused when glucose, or sugar, levels in the bloodstream become unbalanced. When our body digests food, much of it is converted into glucose for our bodies to burn for energy. The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, which helps regulate the glucose in our bodies. When insulin stops being produced at necessary levels, or fails to perform its job, this results in diabetes.
When we consume excess amounts of sugar, fail to get enough exercise, are overweight, or smoke and consume too much alcohol, the pancreas can become damaged, and thus fail to produce the necessary insulin. This condition is type 2 diabetes.
How Can Type 2 Diabetes Be Prevented?
The best treatment for type 2 diabetes is prevention. Adopting healthy lifestyle choices and being conscious of our food intake will help our bodies continue to produce the insulin needed to regulate our glucose levels, and, in turn, prevent diabetes from developing. The best ways to prevent diabetes include:
- Get more exercise – Physical activity burns glucose, sheds pounds, and helps increase insulin sensitivity in the body, all of which help prevent diabetes. Both resistance training and aerobic exercise have been shown to prevent diabetes, and sticking with an fitness routine that includes both is best.
- Lose weight – One of the biggest factors in diabetes prevention is weight loss. Studies have found that even modest weight loss – 7% of initial body weight – combined with regular exercise can reduce diabetes risk by nearly 60%.[ii]
- Stop smoking – If you smoke, you are at increased risk of diabetes, even if you are otherwise healthy. The sooner you quit, the more you reduce your chances of being diagnosed with diabetes later in life. Similarly, excessive alcohol consumption is a large contributing factor to the development of type 2 diabetes.
- Eat healthier – The more balanced your diet, the more your body’s glucose levels will remain balanced. Eating fiber and whole grains, in particular, has been shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Reducing sugar intake and sticking to healthier meals, now, will improve your health in the future.
Looking for more tips on living and eating healthy? Give us a call today at 949-548-8400.