What are the risk factors for developing Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 Diabetes presents conditions prior to diagnosis such as Endothelial Dysfunction, which occurs because the endothelium doesn’t produce enough nitric oxide to lubricate the arteries, Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome and Pre-Diabetes. In these stages Diabetes can be prevented or at least delayed, if measures are taken to reduce its risk factors.
If you have one or more of the following factors, you are at high risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes:
- Excess body weight (especially around the waist)
- Not doing enough physical activity (sedentary lifestyle)
- Being older than 40
- Being Hispanic or African American
- A Diabetes history in the family
- Good cholesterol levels (HDL) below 35 mg/dl
- Bad cholesterol levels (LDL) greater than 160 mg/dl
- Triglyceride levels above 150 mg/dl
- Hight blood pressure levels (140/90 mm Hg or greater)
- Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT)
- Being under permanent stress
- Having Liver Stenosis or Fatty Liver
- In women, we have to add, having had Gestational Diabetes, having had a baby who weighed more than 9 lbs (4 kg) at birth or having polycystic ovary syndrome
There are certain risk factors that we can’t control, such as being Hispanic or African American, being over 40 or having Diabetes in the family, luckily there are several other factors we can control.
The adipose tissue is made of fat cells or adipocytes which serve as an energy reserve. The fats and carbohydrates we eat contain calories, for example, one gram of fat contains 9 calories while one gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories. When we consume lots of foods which are rich in fats and carbohydrates we’re ingesting an excessive amount of calories and if the amount of calories we require to perform daily activities is less than the calories we ingest, the excess calories accumulate as fat cells or adipocytes in the adipose tissue, especially in the waist. If this situation becomes habitual, increasing amounts of adipocytes will be stored in the abdominal adipose tissue causing our waist circumference to increase. These excess fat cells located in the abdominal adipose tissue cause serious damage to the body, such as:
- Excess weight or Obesity
- Damage to the Endothelium, which are the arterial inner walls
- Hypercholesterolemia or elevated blood cholesterol
- High blood triglyceride levels
- Arterial hypertension
- Insulin resistance
All of these conditions are part of the Metabolic Syndrome, which is the first step on the road to Type 2 Diabetes; and if this condition progresses, it will become Pre-Diabetes, and if one doesn’t take all necessary measures a Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis will be inevitable.
Having healthy eating habits, increasing our physical activity or exercise, having a more relaxed and stress-free life and putting in the effort to maintain a normal weight are easy ways in which we can minimize our risk factors; thus preventing a Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis, as well as that of other cardiovascular problems, allowing us to enjoy a healthy, productive and happy life.