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This Common Habit Makes Your Diabetes Risk Soar

Experts explain three unhealthy habits that are linked to diabetes and how to treat type 2.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects over 34 million Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines diabetes as a "health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar (also called glucose) and released into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar goes up, it signals your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body's cells for use as energy. If you have diabetes, your body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't use the insulin it makes as well as it should. When there isn't enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream. Over time, that can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease." While there's no cure for diabetes as of now, there are lifestyle choices that can help prevent it. Eat This, Not That! Health talked to experts who explain what health habits lead to diabetes and how to treat type 2 diabetes. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs COVID is Hurting You—Even After a Negative Test.

1

Lack of Exercise

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Melinda Washington, RDN, CDCES, Clinical Health Coach at One Drop says, "Chronic inactivity may cause type 2 diabetes (T2D) in that a sedentary lifestyle increases someone's risk of developing T2D. Lack of exercise can increase fat in the body and fat (especially around the waist area), is linked to insulin resistance. Exercise can reduce the fat and, in turn, reduce insulin resistance. During exercise, cells in the muscle take in sugar from the bloodstream to be used as energy to fuel our movement. The unique part of exercising is that the muscle is able to take up sugar and convert into energy, whether insulin is available or not, often for hours after the exercise is complete. For this reason, there is less insulin resistance (raising insulin sensitivity) in the body. This effect can last for up to 24 hours for most individuals."

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2

Weight

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Dr. Seema Bonney MD, Founder and Medical Director of the Anti-Aging and Longevity Center of Philadelphia states, "Obesity increases levels of fatty acids and inflammation, leading to insulin resistance. Overeating can also stress out the inside of cells, when the cells have more nutrients to process than they can handle, insulin resistance increases and which can lead to high levels of sugar glucose in the blood."

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3

An Unhealthy Lifestyle

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Dr. Tabitha Cranie, MD, with NWPH reminds us, "When you constantly consume processed foods and all that sugar and carbs, you are definitely placing yourself at a higher risk of getting diabetes." 

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4

Causes of Type 2 Diabetes

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Washington says, "There are two primary and interrelated causes of type 2 diabetes. The first, being that the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, a hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. The other being that the cells in our muscle, fat, and the liver become insulin resistant and cannot take in the appropriate amount of sugar."

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5

How to Treat Type 2 Diabetes

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 According to Washington, "While there is no one-size-fits-all treatment, most people manage type 2 diabetes with a mix of lifestyle changes and medications. Treatment decisions should always be made in partnership with your healthcare provider. Some commonly recommended treatments include:

  • Developing a healthy diet: Understanding the role of food in decreasing blood sugars and reducing insulin resistance can be a powerful way to treat diabetes.
  • Adequate water intake: Drinking enough water can help the body flush out excess glucose—1.6 liters to 2 liters daily depending on the individual.
  • Blood glucose monitoring: Check your blood sugar with a device such as a glucometer or continuous glucose meter (CGM). The device can provide information in terms of levels of blood sugars. This can provide valuable information in assessing, creating goals and strategies in managing and improving blood sugars.
  • Medication: If you cannot achieve target blood sugar levels with lifestyle changes, a provider may prescribe oral medication (e.g., Metformin) or insulin.
  • Regular physical activity: Exercise can lower blood glucose levels and boost insulin sensitivity.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Studies have shown, if overweight, reducing body weight by 5% can have an impact on lowering blood sugars.
  • Stress management: Cortisol, a hormone that is released during stress, can also contribute to elevated blood sugars.
  • Adequate sleep: Lack of sleep can affect blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity and may cause an increase in appetite leading to weight gain." And to live your healthiest life, don't miss this life-saving advice I'm a Doctor and Here's the #1 Sign You Have Cancer.
Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more
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