by Sam Kraft
November is National Diabetes Month, and a global spotlight is shining on a deadly disease that affects more than 29 million people in the United States.
Which makes today an opportune time to ask yourself: Could you be causing (or living with) type 2 diabetes…and not even know it?
Before you dismiss that notion, look at the facts:
- 1 out of 4 people don’t know they have diabetes
- At least 1 out of 3 people will develop diabetes in their lifetime
- Most cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by adopting a healthier lifestyle
The goal of National Diabetes Month is to help promote the importance of type 2 diabetes screenings, which help ensure early diagnosis and treatment to reduce the risk of serious complications.
To help you decide whether you should book a screening, we’ve outlined five ways you could be putting yourself at greater risk.
You have a major sweet tooth.
As a response to the low-fat “revolution” launched in the 1970s, sugar – particularly added sugar – became a staple of America’s food industry. The result? Millions of Americans have been unknowingly eating and drinking massive amounts of sugar for decades.
Those extra servings of sugar have taken their toll. In this case specifically, research shows that regularly drinking sugar-sweetened beverages increases your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Worried your sugar intake may be too high? For starters, start avoiding products with added sugar near the top of the ingredient list, such as fruit juices, soda, sweetened yogurt, baked goods, processed foods, and anything including the dreaded high-fructose corn syrup.
You’re stressed out.
Look, we’re all stressed. Jobs, families, money problems – no one’s immune. A little stress is normal, but research indicates that chronic stress can cause high blood pressure, blood sugars, and cholesterol, all of which are linked to type 2 diabetes.
On the same note, a Dutch study concluded that depression increases the risk for type 2 diabetes by 37 percent.
Stress can certainly seem overwhelming, but there are proven methods to build up control. Check out this post from Diabetes Self-Management for some helpful tips on stress relief.
You’re unknowingly triggering inflammation.
Though it may not be a direct cause, we can say for certain that internal inflammation plays a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.
If you’ve ever sprained your ankle or been bitten by a mosquito, you know how inflammation works. However, you may not be aware that certain behaviors can cause inflammation within your body, which sometimes lead to insulin resistance.
As people with type 2 diabetes already have issues producing enough insulin and using it properly, inflammation can create a vicious cycle inside your body if you’re at risk for the disease.
The best ways to fight off inflammation? Get regular exercise, adopt an anti-inflammatory diet, and practice good oral hygiene.
You’re on the couch too much.
Obesity is widely recognized as a primary risk factor for diabetes, as are the primary contributors to obesity like poor diet and lack of exercise.
But this may surprise you: a University of Missouri study concluded that people who lead sedentary lifestyles are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, regardless of diet or weight.
My advice is simple: get off your couch, ditch your office chair, and move around. Not only does physical activity help with weight control, but it also uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.
You’re not getting your full 8 hours.
According to NIDDK, you’re at greater risk for type 2 diabetes if you’re living with untreated sleep problems, especially sleep apnea.
Like diabetes, sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed, which is why you may not even know you’re at risk. So if you’re frequently feeling bleary-eyed, read up on common sleep disorders and what you can do to prevent them.