Diabetes: Reducing Your Risk

The staggering numbers surrounding the obesity epidemic are inescapable. According to the World Health Organization, more than one billion people around the world are overweight and 300 million are clinically obese.  As that number continues to increase, a commonly associated condition, Type 2 diabetes, also is growing at epidemic proportions. Yet, it can’t easily be identified by physical cues, like excess weight, so many people don’t know they’re diabetic, let alone pre-diabetic, or even at risk.   

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2014 update on diabetes, 21 million people have diagnosed diabetes and 8.1 million have undiagnosed diabetes. Combined, that’s more than 27.8% of the United States population.

The majority of individuals with the disease have Type 2 diabetes, an adult-onset form that’s typically not insulin dependent. Sadly, many more adolescents and teens are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, too. This article focuses on this type specifically, which the CDC says can be delayed or prevented altogether through moderate weight loss, exercise, and healthier eating. 

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body loses the ability to manage blood-sugar levels. Blood sugar levels rise after eating meals, and particularly those containing higher levels of carbohydrates. The body must maintain its blood sugar level, or glucose, within a relatively close range or the glucose can become toxic to the body’s cells.

Insulin Resistance

When we consistently take in more glucose than we should, our body has to produce more and more insulin to help reduce blood sugar levels. Insulin tells our bodies’ cells to convert the glucose to energy. Over time, the cells stop listening, so we produce even more insulin to drive the blood sugar levels down. High insulin reduces fat-burning, can increase inflammation and keeps our bodies in a state of sugar burning.

Metabolic Syndrome

As Type 2 diabetes progresses, a variety of health conditions can follow. Triglyceride and very-low density lipoprotein (VLDL) levels will likely increase, which puts stress on the liver. The high levels of glucose can increase oxidation in the body, which is associated with increased risks of cancer. Blood pressure often rises. Belly fat may increase. The body’s rate of aging even can increase.

Insulin resistance also is associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, excess glucose has been shown to work against the body’s immune system, increasing the chance of bacterial and fungal infections.  Moreover, those with diabetes have been shown to have almost double the risk of cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure or need for a liver transplant compared to those without diabetes.

Though not everyone who has Type 2 diabetes is overweight or obese, the two often are found together. Those who learn they are pre-diabetic or diabetic without being overweight should not assume they are healthier than those who are overweight. Losing blood sugar control is a serious issue, regardless. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk and regain control of your health.

Steps to Reduce Your Risk

  • Get the Numbers – Get your blood glucose measured on a regular basis. While most doctors can arrange for this test, LC Medical not only can test blood glucose, but also a whole range of other factors as part of a comprehensive assessment of your current health, and then make recommendations for treatment.
  • Get Moving - Exercise on a regular basis. If you’re not experiencing high levels of chronic stress, vigorous exercise can play a significant role in supporting healthy blood sugar and insulin levels. As an LC Medical patient, a fitness professional will play a critical role in the development of your treatment plan, so you’ll not only get the information, you’ll know how to put it into action.
  • Get Moderate on Carb Intake - Keep your carbohydrate intake moderate. One of the easiest ways to get rid of excess carbohydrates is to stop eating processed foods. People are less likely to overeat on whole foods like oatmeal or sweet potatoes than granola bars, cereal or pasta.
  • Get 9-12 - Eat 9-12 servings of vegetables and fruit per day. Vegetables and fruit provide a variety of nutrients and fiber, and may help replace other more calorie-dense foods in the diet.
  • Get Protein - Eat protein with each meal. Protein helps keep blood sugar levels more steady and increases satiety between meals. Odds are, you’ll snack less on convenience foods between meals. Registered dieticians also can play a key role in the development of your treatment plan at LC Medical to make recommendations specific to your dietary requirements.

To learn more about the LC Medical approach to assessing and treating diabetes and other health concerns, stop in the LC Medical Clinic or give us a call at 952-541-7157. Conveniently located in Life Time Athletic St. Louis Park, we accept all insurance plans and walk-in appointments always are welcome. 

Services provided by Life Clinic Medical, PA. myHealthScore® and all services associated with it are for participant educational use only and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources used for this article include: 
Diabetes: Not to be Underestimated”, published by Life Time Weight Loss on February 6, 2011.   
United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website