Diabetes: Are you at Risk?

For many of us, the thought of ever developing diabetes is the furthest thing from our mind.  Maybe it’s because we don’t really know much about the disease, or we subscribe to the mentality that we are bullet-proof and nothing will ever harm us.  Both are common among a large portion of Americans.

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects the way our cells receive glucose (energy).  When elevated levels of glucose is present in the bloodstream, such as after a meal, the pancreas releases a substance called insulin.  Insulin helps move the glucose in our bloodstream into the cells so they may use the glucose for energy.  In some people, their bodies’ do not provide enough insulin, produce no insulin at all, or have cells that do not respond appropriately to insulin.

Types of Diabetes

There are three types of diabetes a person can develop.

  • Diabetes Type 1 – Your body produces no insulin
  • Diabetes Type 2 – Your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or your body doesn’t handle the insulin produce properly.
  • Gestational Diabetes – You develop diabetes only during your pregnancy.

The purpose of this article is to look at the type of diabetes that is most affected by lifestyle choices, specifically your diet and levels of physical exercise.

Not surprisingly, the type of diabetes that we have the most control over whether or not we develop, is the most common.  This would be diabetes type 2.  An estimated 11 million people are currently living with diabetes type 2, with an additional 6 million who are living without knowledge of the disease as they have no seen any symptoms yet.

How Bad Do I Have to Get to Develop Diabetes?

Diabetes type 2 may seem like a problem for only the very obese and physically unfit individuals in our society.  Fact of the matter is, 90% of individuals who develop this type of diabetes are obese.  Not morbidly obese, just obese.  The medical definition of “obese” is generally accepted to mean a BMI of 30, or about 25 lbs. overweight.

The drawing of the woman to the right was created to show that a person doesn’t need to be hundreds of pounds overweight and bed-ridden to develop this devastating disease.  The drawing shows the typical body image of a woman with 40% body fat, a BMI of 30, and about 25 pounds above her natural weight for her height.

As a result, this illustrated woman would be a prime candidate for developing diabetes at some point in her life if she was unable or unwilling to lose her excess weight.

What Are The Effects?

Diabetes wreaks havoc inside our bodies, especially left untreated.  Some of the more serious consequences of type 2 diabetes include: high blood pressure, damage to blood vessels resulting in amputation, blindness, high cholesterol, stroke, glaucoma, kidney disease and failure, increased risk of infections, and nerve damage, to name a few.  If that isn’t enough, consider this:  The average person who develops diabetes has roughly 17 years shaved off their lifespan.

While there are treatment options out there that greatly reduce the risk of developing this complications, there is never a guarantee.  Your surest bet is to do everything in your power to avoid diabetes in the first place.

Daily insulin injections and blood readings are a fact of life for millions of Americans with diabetes.  While this is a necessary evil, it is something they would surely love to avoid if they had the choice.  If you want to avoid this way of living, change how you are living now.

What Can There Be Done?

By adopting a healthier lifestyle which includes eating low-fat, nutritious foods, actively engaging in physical fitness, and refraining from excessive alcohol and tobacco use, you drastically reduce your risk of ever developing this disease.  Studies show that individuals who do all of the above, as well as maintain a normal body weight have an 89% less risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  This is truly astounding.  The choices you make can almost guarantee you will ever have to face this terrible disease.

This is the reason you constantly hear the importance of physical exercise stressed so greatly.  The ability to almost entirely eliminate the likelihood of developing a disease that kills so many Americans each year is a great thing.  Imagine if a healthy diet and exercise could do the same for developing leukemia, or AIDS, or Parkinson’s disease.  How many more people would start exercising and eating right?  The fact of the matter is, people view themselves as less of a risk for developing diabetes, so they often ignore preventive measures that restrict their ability to develop the disease.

I’m Ready to Make a Change…Now What?

By investing just a little bit of time and money into getting your healthy lifestyle on track, you will be saving yourself much pain and anguish down the road.  Spend some time visiting with a registered dietitian who will get your eating on track.  Take some healthy fitness classes such as pilates, yoga, or a combo weight lifting/cardio style class.  Sign up for your local gym and actually GO.  Continue to check this site for additional health and fitness tips.  Bottomline, do everything in your power to make the changes you need to make.  If you are completely clueless as to what you should be doing, that’s okay. Share It Fitness was created to help people of all different skill levels achieve their healthy living goals.  If for some reason you don’t like what we have here, find another source to get your health and fitness information.  Whatever you do, find a plan that works for you and stick to it.  Your life is worth the upfront costs and time it takes to live happily and healthily for years to come.


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