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Here's How You Get Diabetes, Say Experts

Three common ways people can get diabetes. 

Over 10 percent of the American population is living with diabetes—that's an average of 34.2 million according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases.  Diabetes occurs when a person's blood sugar becomes too high and is a lifelong disease that can cause severe health issues like nerve damage, kidney damage, cardiovascular disease and more if left untreated. Sean Marchese, MS, RN, a registered nurse at The Mesothelioma Center with a background in oncology clinical trials and over 15 years of direct patient care experience explains to Eat This, Not That! Health three common ways people get diabetes and who is at risk. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Obesity or Inactivity

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Marchese states, "When your body isn't burning sugar for energy, the sugar in your blood tends to stick around longer. Sugar is present in many, many foods, and we often ingest more than we burn. When you are inactive for long periods of time or don't regularly exercise, the sugar in your blood will build up, causing the pancreas to produce more insulin. High levels of insulin eventually cause cells to become insulin-resistant, making cells less receptive to receiving blood glucose."

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Insulin Resistance

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"Insulin-resistance occurs once cells in the muscles, fat, and liver stop responding well to insulin," says Marchese. "This can occur after sustained high levels of insulin in blood as a result of chronic high blood sugar. If insulin outpaces the level of sugar in the blood, and can overcome the weak receptors on cells, then levels stay healthy and cells have access to glucose. If your pancreas can't overpower the insulin resistance by cells, then blood sugar begins to rise. Physical activity, weight loss, stress reduction and better sleep can all help reduce insulin resistance and prevent type 2 diabetes."

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Nurse Meeting With Teenage Girl And Mother In Hospital

Marchese explains, "While family history is closely linked with type 1 diabetes, there are genetic risk factors that can also predispose someone to type 2 diabetes. Researchers have found over 250 DNA mutations that can potentially cause or increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. While most of these are common variations, they may be more dangerous in someone with other risk factors, such as obesity or older age. Genetic variations can impact how the pancreas produces insulin and how cells respond to it. In reality, it's a combination of lifestyle factors and genetic risk that have the most significant impact on developing type 2 diabetes." 

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Who is at Risk for Diabetes?

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Marchese says, "Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. Many scientists consider it a genetic disorder with risk factors including family history and background. For example, in the United States, white people are more likely to develop Type 1 diabetes than Black people or Hispanics/Latinos. Type 1 diabetes also tends to present in younger patients but can develop at any age.

Type 2 diabetes is more common, and risk factors include obesity, age over 45 years, inactivity, or signs of diabetes such as pre diabetes or gestational diabetes (diabetic signs during pregnancy). Certain ethnic backgrounds are also at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, such as African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, American Indians, or Alaska Natives (some Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans are also at higher risk). A history of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is also a risk factor for type 2 diabetes." 

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Why is Type 2 diabetes the Most Common?


According to Marchese, "Type 2 diabetes is more common than type 1 because it often develops as a response to certain lifestyle choices. Type 1 diabetes has a genetic component and is a rarer disease in the general public. Long periods of excess sugar in the bloodstream can lead to type 2 diabetes which impairs how the body uses sugar for fuel. High levels of sugar in the bloodstream can eventually lead to circulatory, nervous or immune system disorders. Insulin helps the body use blood sugar, or glucose, for energy. In type 2 diabetes, your body doesn't produce enough insulin, or uses it inefficiently, as a response to high levels of sugar in the blood, preventing your cells from accessing the glucose."  And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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 about Heather
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