Familiar with diabetes or not, the public perception is clear: it’s a disease involving too much blood sugar, and therefore must come from an unhealthy diet or lifestyle. While this might make sense at first glance, diabetes is a much more complex disease than many people credit it to be. While unhealthy behaviors like avoiding exercise or overeating are risk factors for the disease, it can also affect very healthy people and often does.
Here at Westmed Family Healthcare in Westminster, Colorado, diabetes specialists and family medicine providers Clifton Etienne, MD, Michael Cavanagh, MD, and Flora Brewington, MD can assess your risk factors for diabetes and help you take steps to prevent it, if possible.
Here’s how you might be at risk for diabetes despite striving for a healthy lifestyle:
Type 1 diabetes has no link to lifestyle
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are very different. While type 2 develops because your body can’t use its insulin to effectively transfer glucose into your cells for use as energy, having type 1 diabetes means your pancreas doesn’t make any insulin in the first place or makes very little of it.
Most people with type 1 diabetes receive their diagnoses during childhood, since it comes from their genetics. Others can develop type 1 diabetes after being exposed to certain viruses or other factors in their environments outside of their control.
Type 2 diabetes can affect you at any weight
Being overweight or obese may be a risk factor in type 2 diabetes, but that doesn’t mean you’re immune to the condition if you’re underweight or within a typical weight range for someone of your age.
If your parents or other close relatives have type 2 diabetes, you’re already at a higher-than-average risk for getting it. In fact, research shows that you’re 40% more likely to get diabetes than the general population if one of your parents has the condition.
This is true regardless of your personal lifestyle, diet, and fitness. It can even develop due to a lack of proper nutrition in utero.
Type 2 diabetes also has links to habits that you might not expect and that may not necessarily strike you as being unhealthy. For example, your risk for type 2 diabetes can go up because you lack adequate sleep or because you don’t exercise as much as you should.
Habits aside, you might simply have more body fat than you realize. This is because you might have fat marbled into your muscles or fat around your internal organs. Fat in your abdomen can secrete hormones that interfere with normal insulin function, which can lead to diabetes even if you have no concerns with weight.
Need more information?
It’s important to speak with your physician and assess your risk factors for diabetes, especially if you have family members with the condition. If you’d like to learn more about diabetes, how to lower your risk, and how to manage it if you get it, schedule an appointment by phone or online at Westmed Family Healthcare today.