Diabetes is among the leading illnesses around the world with around 540 million people living with it. These numbers have only grown in the recent past for a variety of reasons and future predictions estimate these numbers to rise even further by another 100 million. Diabetes is a chronic endocrine disorder, which does not have a cure, where an excess of sugar or glucose builds up in the bloodstream. This can have severe repercussions on one’s health and diabetes causes or leads to other serious health ailments like heart disease, stroke, kidney and eyesight damage, etc. let’s take a deep dive into the causes of diabetes and what we can do to prevent its development as it’s not something that can be cured.
Types of Diabetes
People are mostly affected by 3 types of diabetes. Type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes (diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and is reversed after delivery) and all of these have different causes. But before we get into that, let’s understand the basic cause of diabetes.
Humans need food to function, it provides energy, nutrition and life. The food we eat is digested and the micronutrients are released into the bloodstream. Along with these, glucose (blood sugar), the nutrient responsible for providing energy, is also released in the bloodstream. Our pancreas create digestive juices along with the hormone insulin which helps convert the glucose in our blood stream into energy. Diabetes is mainly caused when either our body does not produce sufficient insulin required by our body or the cells are unable to effectively utilize or absorb the insulin to convert glucose into usable energy. Both of these cases cause a build up of blood sugar which is what causes diabetes. Now that we have a basic understanding, let’s take a more detailed look into the types of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder wherein the body attacks itself by mistake. Because of this process, the beta cells that are responsible for producing insulin in the pancreas are destroyed. Before any symptoms develop, this process continues to develop undetected for months or even years. It is also believed that certain individuals have genes (characteristics that are passed on from parents to children) that put them at an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes. However, in some cases despite having the genes for it, a significant number of people don’t end up developing type 1 diabetes throughout their lives. There is some speculation that an environmental factor, such as exposure to a virus, a major surgery or prolonged illness may play a role in the development of type 1 diabetes.
It is very rare that type 1 diabetes can be prevented by any means as it is mostly genetic. However, maintaining good health overall can help greatly in managing and controlling this condition.
The major cause of type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance. Your pancreas produces the hormone insulin, which functions as a key to allow blood sugar to enter your body’s cells for use as fuel. Insulin resistance, which occurs when cells don’t react to insulin as they should in people with type 2 diabetes. To attempt to elicit a response from cells, your pancreas produces more insulin. Your blood sugar eventually increases as a result of your pancreas’ inability to keep up, which may lead to type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. High blood sugar harms the body and increases the risk of renal disease, heart disease, and other major health issues. Type 2 diabetes also occurs due to being overweight or obese which also causes insulin resistance.
Type 2 diabetes can be prevented as a condition known as prediabetes precedes it. Prediabetes is when your blood sugar levels are higher than usual but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Prediabetes is a condition that can be reversed when caught and treated in time.
By doing the following things, you can reverse prediabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes before it becomes a serious problem.
- If you are overweight or obese, losing the additional weight will go a long way in reversing type 2 diabetes. Losing 5-7% of the total body fat is the best way to manage this condition.
- Regularly working out is another crucial aspect of managing type 2 diabetes as it uses and balances the built up blood sugar from the bloodstream.
- Focusing on consuming a diabetes friendly diet with more protein and fiber, less carbs and sugar is also important. Consuming healthy fats is also crucial in maintaining blood sugar levels.
- Getting your blood sugar levels checked regularly and visiting your doctor frequently can help avoid developing diabetes altogether.