Diabetes is categorized as a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by an increased level of sugar circulating in the blood.
But why high levels of sugar? Sugar is the primary energy fuel of our body, which is equipped with the necessary hormonal profile in the form of insulin, to keep the blood sugar levels in balance. When this equilibrium goes unchecked, it presents itself as diabetes. In such a case, insulin is unable to transport the blood sugar into liver, fat and muscle cells where it is normally used up as energy fuel or stored for later use.
Though the underlying cause of diabetes remains the same, i.e. an inability of the body to process sugar, classically diabetes is presented as either of the two types
- type I diabetes ( juvenile or insulin-dependent diabetes)
- type II diabetes ( adult type or non-insulin dependent diabetes)
The subject matter is the underlying factors that lead to the development of type 2 diabetes which is the most prevalent presentation of diabetes; 90-95 out of 100 individuals are affected by it. The condition can strike anyone regardless of age but the adult population is more likely to be affected by this condition.
Causes of Type 2 Diabetes
The present millennium has seen a rise in the incidence of type II diabetes owing to
- sedentary lifestyles and lack of physical activity
- consumption of more of processed food items
- overweight and obesity
- insulin resistance
- genes and family history
Our lifestyles and dietary habits leave us prone to being overweight, with obesity becoming a global endemic. Lack of physical activity and exercise routines add fuel to fire and are major causes of insulin resistance. Research has pointed out a specific relationship of body fat distribution with insulin resistance; belly fat makes us more vulnerable to insulin resistance.
The introduction of processed food and refined sugars in our dietary regimes is another factor that plays havoc with our hormonal profiles, specifically insulin. With the absence of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains from our dining schedules, the situation is made worse with saturated fat choices, creating a perfect environment leading to insulin resistance. High alcohol intake is also included in the bad dietary choices.
Type 2 diabetes usually present with insulin resistance in the primary stage followed by insulin deficiency later on.
Insulin resistance is the stage where the body’s cells, specifically the cells of liver, muscles and fat, stop responding to the signals sent by insulin. This, in turn, leads to a higher amount of the subject hormone secreted by the pancreas in an attempt to maintain the blood sugar levels.
Insulin resistance is followed by prediabetes or diabetes, where the pancreatic cells cannot keep up with the increasing demand for insulin secretion, an insulin deficient state. Insulin resistance alone cannot predict type 2 diabetes, however; it is a major predisposing factor leading to diabetes. If left unchecked without interventions like weight loss and physical activity, insulin resistance can develop into a full-blown diabetic state within 10 years.
The genetic makeup of an individual and a family history of diabetes is another factor that predisposes one to be overweight, obese, develop insulin resistance and attain the fat distribution, distinctive of a prediabetic state. In cases where the body simply does not produce enough of the insulin hormone, genetic rationale may be attributed there.
Diabetes type 2 is more prevalent in some of the ethnic and racial groups as observed by the statistical data.
- African Americans
- Alaska Natives
- American Indians
- Asian Americans
- Native Hawaiians
- Pacific Islanders
Some other risk factors for Type 2 diabetes
Some of the other risk factors that might put you in the unsafe zone for developing type 2 diabetes are
- Age 45 or beyond
- Diagnosed hypertension
- A BMI over 25
- Diagnosed PCOS
- History of gestational diabetes
- Delivering a child with weight more than 9 pounds
- History of heart disease and stroke
- High levels of LDL and low levels of HDL with raised total triglycerides
Take home message
The conclusion is; where you might not be able to control many risk factors to developing diabetes (age, ethnicity, genetics), there are many aspects to diabetes that can be managed, for example, losing some pounds, adopting healthy dietary choices, incorporating some kind of physical activity, etc.