There are a lot of misconceptions about health out there.
Are you worried about developing diabetes because your parents or siblings have it?
If so, you’re a victim of one of the most common, incorrect beliefs about how diabetes works.
It's time to bust the common myth - diabetes is not solely determined by your genes. Despite what you may have heard, there is no single "diabetic gene" known to science. In fact, several other factors play a more significant role in determining your risk for diabetes.
Science-Based: Genes and Diabetes
While it's true that genetics can influence your risk for diabetes, it's not as straightforward as having a single gene that causes the condition. Type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease, is known to have some genetic component, but it is not fully understood. However, the more common form of diabetes, type 2 diabetes, is a multifactorial disease caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Multiple genes have been identified that may contribute to the risk of type 2 diabetes, but none of them are solely responsible for causing diabetes. These genes are associated with various physiological processes in the body, such as insulin production, insulin sensitivity, and glucose metabolism. However, the interplay between these genes and environmental factors is complex, and the exact mechanisms by which they contribute to diabetes risk are still being studied.
Even if you have a genetic predisposition to diabetes, it does not mean you are destined to develop the condition. Lifestyle choices and environmental factors play a significant role in determining whether these genes are expressed in a way that increases your risk of developing diabetes. This means that you have the power to modify your risk of diabetes by making healthy lifestyle choices and managing other risk factors.
Science-Based: Other Factors Affecting Diabetes Risk
Apart from genetics, several other factors can put you at risk for developing diabetes. Unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet high in sugar and processed foods, obesity, and chronic stress, can all contribute to the development of diabetes. These factors can affect the expression of certain genes in your body, leading to an increased risk of developing diabetes over time.
For example, a diet high in refined carbohydrates and added sugars can cause frequent and rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, leading to increased insulin production and decreased insulin sensitivity over time. This can ultimately result in the development of insulin resistance, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes.
Chronic stress can also impact your blood sugar levels and increase your risk of developing diabetes. When you are under stress, your body releases stress hormones such as cortisol, which can interfere with insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.
All of this to say - the average American is not living a life devoid of stress, sugar, or too much time sitting. Unfortunately, most of us are not setting our bodies up for success, so you could be putting yourself at risk (and not even knowing it).
Top 5 Ways to Prevent Diabetes
The good news is - it is completely possible to prevent (and even reverse!) diabetes.
Here’s our top tips to get on the right track to preventing a diabetes diagnosis:
- Adopt a Healthy Diet: One of the most effective ways to prevent diabetes is to adopt a healthy and balanced diet. Focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Limit your intake of added sugars, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods that can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels. Incorporate foods that are rich in fiber, as they can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial in preventing diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes. Obesity and excess abdominal fat have been linked to increased insulin resistance and inflammation in the body, leading to a higher risk of developing diabetes. Regular physical activity, along with a healthy diet, can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking or cycling, per week, along with muscle-strengthening activities on at least two days per week.
- Manage Stress: Chronic stress can impact your blood sugar levels and increase your risk of developing diabetes. Incorporate stress management techniques such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, or regular exercise into your routine. Prioritize self-care and make time for relaxation to reduce stress levels.
- Get Regular Check-ups: Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider are essential for monitoring your blood sugar levels and overall health. Your healthcare provider can assess your risk of developing diabetes based on your medical history, family history, and other risk factors, and provide appropriate recommendations for prevention.
- Avoid Smoking and Limit Alcohol Intake: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of developing diabetes, along with various other health risks. If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of diabetes and other health conditions.
While genetics can play a role in determining your risk for diabetes, it is not solely responsible for causing the condition. Lifestyle choices, such as adopting a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, getting regular check-ups, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol intake, are crucial in preventing diabetes.
By making these healthy choices, you can take control of your health and reduce your risk of developing diabetes, regardless of your genetic background.
Prevention is key when it comes to managing diabetes, and taking proactive steps towards a healthy lifestyle can have a significant impact on your overall health and well-being.