You probably have a relative or someone in your circle of friends who knows someone suffering from diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is common. In fact, 1 in 10 Americans has it, and the numbers are on the rise. Unlike type 1 diabetes, which appears during childhood and is caused by a combination of faulty genes and a defective autoimmune response that attacks the beta cells in the pancreas, type 2 diabetes is largely impacted by lifestyle.
What you eat, how often you exercise, and even your stress levels can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. To help you stay healthier for longer, we asked Eberechukwu Nwaogu, FNP-BC, our expert at iCare Health Services in Laurel, Maryland, about the steps you can take to decrease your chances of getting type 2 diabetes.
Insulin sensitivity varies from individual to individual. It also depends on your ancestry. Your insulin sensitivity is how responsive your cells are to insulin and how easily your cells can convert glucose to energy.
The more glucose in your diet, the higher your chance of becoming less insulin sensitive and having a hard time using glucose for fuel. The excess glucose raises your blood sugar levels.
Scientists use the glycemic index to measure the response food has on blood sugar levels. Foods with a high glycemic index include most fruits and grains. Medium glycemic index foods include most beans and root vegetables, and low glycemic index foods include berries and leafy vegetables.
Meat and eggs don’t have a glycemic index, as they don’t raise blood sugar levels.
Cardiovascular exercises such as walking, jogging, or swimming are great at increasing the demand for glucose in the moment. However, building more muscle will enable you to use more glucose even at rest.
Compared to fat tissue, muscle tissue has a higher requirement for glucose. As a result, increasing your muscle mass may lead to better blood sugar control.
When you’re stressed, your body enters fight-or-flight mode. This is a response in which your body secretes a cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters to help you confront the challenge in front of you.
During stressful times, your insulin levels decrease, and your liver releases more glucose to increase your energy levels. Therefore, if you suffer from chronic stress, you tend to have more glucose in your bloodstream, and your insulin levels tend to be lower.
Symptoms of diabetes often take years to appear, and you can live with diabetes without knowing you have elevated blood sugar levels. An early diagnosis makes it easier to manage the disease and prevent potential complications such as nerve damage, pain, and vision problems.
If you’re at risk of developing type 2 diabetes (i.e., if you’re obese, have a sedentary lifestyle, or have a family history of diabetes), contact us to schedule an appointment.