Preventing the Path to Diabetes

Mima Geere, MD, MS, NU  @MimaGeere
January 20, 2016  | Last Updated: January 19, 2016

Diabetes in the form that is most prevalent in the Western world today (type 2) is almost completely preventable. When your doctor tells you your blood sugar is elevated, there is no reason you need to accept this as your general fate. In fact the moment you notice these early indicators, you should know that this is less about genetic predisposition and much more about what your behaviors and lifestyle is like. Everything you do to affect your healthy behaviors will affect the probability of onset of diabetes.

Yes, the pathway to diabetes starts with a high circulating level of blood glucose in your body. The early stages of this are being mapped to inflammation. Changes in your body’s inflammatory biomarkers show up incredibly early, much sooner than your glucose levels become consistently elevated to the point that you doctor can detect them in your blood samples. These early inflammatory changes are a result of several things, but one of the major factors is the fat accumulating in your belly. Sick fat, also known as “adiposopathy,” is one of the early changes in the pathway to diabetes. Yes sick fat is truly when the fat cells tart to produce hormones and inflammation markers themselves. What causes fat to get sick, again, is poor diet and exercise, particularly elevated stress levels resulting in cortisol that particularly affects abdominal fat and storage. In addition to the fat storage, the path progresses to a level of consistently elevated glucose that eventually starts wreaking havoc in your body. At first your pancreas starts to increase the amount of insulin it pushes out, attempting to compensate for the high glucose, but over time the effects dampen and the sugar stays high. The repercussions go so far as causing muscle toxicity. The muscles, which otherwise help with glucose uptake and often survive on glucose, are now in a state of toxicity and are also responding very poorly to the insulin and glucose. In time, this blood sugar as well as insulin response stays elevated and is classified as diabetes.

So how do we prevent these signs from setting in?

  1. Eat a lower-carb diet with a particular focus on little to no refined carbohydrates. A diet low in carbohydrates can make all the difference when it comes to reducing your risk for diabetes. Time and time again it’s been shown that carbs are the metabolic trigger for both an inflammatory response as well as for triglyceride-rich blood and an increase in blood lipids. These lipids in time get oxidized and are the root cause of complication in the blood vessel lining leading to heart disease.
  2. Focus on your waistline. Waist circumference is critical in determining your risk for both diabetes and heart disease. Keeping a slim waist is more than an aesthetic endeavor. Focus on exercises that strengthen your core, like planks and sit-ups as well as Pilates.
  3. Reduce your stress levels and sleep well. Stress and a lack of sleep are the two main reasons why people both gain wait and find it hard to lose weight. Keeping your stress levels low is not just taking care of you psyche but also preventing heart disease and diabetes. Cortisol, if elevated chronically as in a low-grade consistent amount of stress, can not only cause hormonal dysfunction but also bind receptors on your fat cells, causing further accumulation of fat storage.

Taking early steps to prevent the onset of diabetes is critical to living a healthier and happier life. These are easy changes that balance your wellbeing, help you think and function better, and keep your body’s precious organs from being overloaded with toxic foods and sugars.

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