Type II diabetes is one of the great plagues of modern society. The likelihood of developing type II diabetes is influenced by a number of factors including genetics, lifestyle, weight, and eating and exercise habits. All of these factors contribute to insulin resistance, which greatly increases your chances of developing type II diabetes.
What is Insulin Resistance?
When you’re insulin resistant, your body makes insulin but is unable to use it properly. Cells don’t absorb insulin as they should, and so are unable to process glucose in the bloodstream. This means that the body needs higher and higher levels of insulin in order to process the same amount of glucose. Eventually, the pancreas simply can’t keep up with the demand, and blood glucose levels rise, leading to diabetes.
What Are the Causes?
Most experts agree that the two most common causes of insulin resistance are poor diet and physical inactivity. Although scientists have long known that an overabundance of belly fat is correlated with higher incidences of insulin resistance and type II diabetes, it is only recently that science has discovered that fat tissue itself produces hormones and other substances. According to the National Institutes of Health, excess belly fat leads to chronic inflammation in the body, which contributes to the development of insulin resistance.
Risk factors for insulin resistance include:
- Excess sugar in diet
- Excess carbohydrates in diet including breads pasta etc
- Being overweight
- Being physically inactive
- Having a waist measurement over 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men
- Having an immediate family member who is diabetic
- Being over 45
- Low LDL levels
- Having had gestational diabetes or had a baby larger than 9 pounds
What Can You Do?
There are simply lifestyle steps you can take to lower your risk of developing insulin resistance.
- Decrease your sugar and starch intake!!! The average American eats 150-200 pounds of sugar a year. In short your pancreas cannot keep up with all that sugar and starch.
- Decrease the use of vegetable oils. Emerging research is showing a connection between cooking with vegetable oil (corn, canola, etc) and weight gain. Switch to healthier oils including olive, grape seed and coconut.
- Lose weight, if you are overweight. The American Diabetes Association tells us that losing as little as 10 pounds can reduce your risk.
- Avoid diet sodas. Many studies, including one in the journal Diabetologia have shown that people who consume diet soda have a much higher risk of developing type II diabetes
- Get moving. Physical activity greatly reduces your risk.
- Eat healthy. Changing your diet can change your life.
Insulin resistance is primarily a lifestyle disease, directly tied to our modern, sedentary lifestyle and poor diet. Simple changes like reducing sugar intake,losing weight and embracing healthier eating habits can greatly reduce your risk.