12 Diabetes Risk Factors - One Health
Diabetes Mellitus – 12 Diabetes Risk Factors – One Health
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12 Diabetes Risk Factors
Can you improve your odds of dodging diabetes?
ARE YOU AT RISK FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES?
Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, a metabolic disorder that results in too much glucose (sugar) in your blood. While you can’t change some of the 12 common risk factors of diabetes (e.g., your family history, age, and ethnicity), you can control most other diabetes risk factors. Here’s how.
RISK FACTOR 1: YOU’RE A COUCH POTATO
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the biggest diabetes risk factors. Recent studies link too much sitting–whether at your desk at work or on the couch in front of the TV — with higher diabetes risk. Getting regular exercise may be one of the most important things to do to prevent diabetes. Why is activity so good? Regular exercise takes glucose out of your bloodstream and sends it to your muscles, where it’s burned up as energy. That helps keep your blood sugar level steady. Exercise also helps prevent other diabetes risk factors, including weight gain, stress, and insomnia.
RISK FACTOR 2: YOU HAVE BELLY FAT
Skyrocketing rates of diabetes are directly linked to America’s burgeoning waistline. More than 85% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight, according to the National Institutes of Health. It’s not clear why being overweight boosts diabetes risk, but experts suspect extra pounds–especially belly fat–make body cells resist the hormone insulin, which carries glucose in the blood to cells to use as energy. When you develop insulin resistance, cells can’t take up the glucose, resulting in high blood sugar levels.
RISK FACTOR 3: YOU HAVEN’T HAD A GLUCOSE TEST
Knowledge is power, which is why regular screenings are so important. A simple blood test can show if your blood glucose is rising or if you have prediabetes (when blood sugar levels are slightly elevated but not high enough to qualify as diabetes). Prediabetes affects about 79 million people in the U.S. “When people learn they have prediabetes, I tell them they’re extremely lucky,” says Betul Hatipoglu, MD, an endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic. “It’s an opportunity for them to make changes so they can reverse the disease.” Get a blood glucose test every one to three years, depending on whether you have other risk factors.
RISK FACTOR 4: YOU DON’T GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Skimping on sleep is exhausting and makes you grumpy. Even worse, it causes your body to secrete extra stress hormones that lead to insulin resistance and weight gain, Dr. Hatipoglu says. “People who don’t sleep enough at night are also hungrier because they have more ghrelin, a hormone that make you eat more,” she says. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. If your partner says you snore, and you don’t wake up refreshed, see your doctor. You may have sleep apnea, a breathing disorder during sleep that can boost your diabetes risk.
RISK FACTOR 5: YOU EAT A BAD DIET
For many people, a bad diet boosts their diabetes odds. Most Americans eat few fruits and vegetables, which puts them at risk for many health problems, including diabetes. In fact, one survey found that fewer than half of Americans eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables most days of the week. Of particular benefit are leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and collard greens. One analysis found that eating slightly more than one serving of leafy greens a day (about 1 cup raw greens) can lower diabetes risk by 14%.
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