Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can be a very overwhelming experience. Naturally, those newly diagnosed may have a lot of questions. But one of the most common questions I get asked is ‘how did I get diabetes?’
A lot number of people may not have a full understanding of how certain factors as well as lifestyle can put them at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
In a recent post -summit survey I performed, several participants responded they wanted to learn more about type 2 diabetes.
For those people who do not have diabetes, this information is still beneficial. It will help you to know what your risk and begin now to make healthy lifestyle changes.
Insulin and the pancreas
The pancreas is an organ located in the abdomen. It produces a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps the cells in the body to use sugar as energy.
In type 2 diabetes, the cells of the body begin to resist the effects of insulin. This condition is called Insulin Resistance.
I like to use the metaphor of a landlord who changes the locks to the house on his tenant.
In this metaphor, the tenant is blood sugar. Insulin controls the lock to the house. With insulin resistance, the tenant cannot open the lock, with the insulin.
Insulin resistance is usually present in the body at least five years before type 2 diabetes is diagnosed.
Who is at risk of developing type 2 diabetes?
Here are some of the things you should know that increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes:
- Family History: A big reason why people develop diabetes is genetic. If you have a first degree relative with diabetes, like a parent, sister, brother, then your chance of getting diabetes goes up five to ten times. So it is crucial to know your family history.
- Ethnic Groups: Type 2 diabetes is common in certain races such as African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans. So just by being of a certain race puts you at an increased risk.
- Pregnancy: 3-5% of pregnant women can develop diabetes in pregnancy, also known as gestational diabetes. The difference is that once the baby is born, diabetes goes away.
If you had diabetes while you were pregnant, you are at risk of developing diabetes later on in life. Make sure that after your pregnancy, you have regular medical check-ups. Your healthcare provider will need to monitor your blood sugars closely.
- Environmental Toxins: Environmental toxins which can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes have been coined diabetogens. Exposure to toxins such as pesticides, arsenic, as well as ambient air pollution, to name a few, can all increase the risk of type 2 diabetes through several mechanisms.
Ongoing exposure to the toxin load increases our risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Medications: Some medications can cause diabetes. Usually, this happens to people who were already at risk for developing diabetes.
One of the common drugs that can cause diabetes is steroids. Steroids are used to treat many medical conditions such as transplant patients, chronic lung disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases to name a few.
According to the National Kidney Foundation up to 20% of patients after a kidney transplant may develop diabetes.
There are some other commonly used medications which can elevate blood sugars.
- Statin medications -used to treat high cholesterol.
- Thiazide diuretics -used to treat high blood pressure.
- Transplant rejection medications such as tacrolimus
- edications used to treat anxiety and/or depression.
Speak with your healthcare provider if you are concerned about any medications you are on. Do not discontinue any medications by yourself.
It is possible that the benefits of being on the medication may outweigh your risk of developing diabetes.
Trust that your healthcare provider has your best interests at heart.
If you do not feel this about your healthcare provider, then perhaps you need to search for a new one!
For more information on how to pick a healthcare provider that is the right fit for you, click here.
To download a FREE copy of the first three chapters of my award winning book which explains more about type 2 diabetes, click here.
Here’s to your Health & Wellbeing,