Are You at Risk for Diabetes?

Written by Dave Rich

On October 18, 2012

Photo © Rosemary Ratcliff

Diabetes mellitus affects 25.8 million people in the United States alone. Obesity and diabetes go hand in hand as to other risk factors for the disease.
What is Diabetes Mellitus?
Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which a person has high blood glucose (sugar). This happens when the body does not properly respond to insulin or when the body’s insulin production is inactive. Sometimes, diabetes is the result of both of these conditions. There are two types of diabetes, type I and type II.

  • Type I

Type I, also called insulin-dependent diabetes usually shows an onset before the age of 40. However, illness or disease can cause type I diabetes to show up in later life. Patients with this type of diabetes will be dependent on insulin injections for the remainder of their lives. This type of diabetes accounts for 10% of diabetes mellitus cases.

  • Type II

90% of diabetes cases are the type II variety. This is because the body does not produce enough insulin or the body’s cells do not respond correctly to the insulin. Type II diabetes is a progressive disease and if left untreated, can lead to complications. Patients with this type of diabetes will be prescribed an insulin pill to control their blood glucose levels. Their doctor may also prescribe a diet and exercise regimen to stabilize blood glucose levels.
Symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus
The symptoms of diabetes can be easily overlooked at first if you don’t know what to watch out for. These symptoms include:

  • Excessive Thirst
  • Increased Hunger (Especially After Eating)
  • Frequent Urination
  • Blurred Vision
  • Dry Mouth
  • Numbness or Tingling in Hands or Feet
  • Skin Infection
  • Frequent Urinary Tract Infection
  • Nausea and/or Vomiting
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Slow Healing of Cuts and Bruises

As the disease progresses, type II diabetes can lead to serious complications including diabetic coma, retinopathy, neuropathy, diabetic stroke, kidney damage, nerve damage and poor circulation.
Are You at Risk for Diabetes?
Over 12 million men in the United States suffer from diabetes mellitus. There are certain factors that increase your risk for diabetes. Here they are:

  • Obesity

Obesity and diabetes can go hand in hand. Though being overweight doesn’t cause diabetes directly, obesity is a risk factor. Obesity promotes insulin resistance through the incorrect inactivation of a process called gluconeogenesis. Abdominal fat, especially, increases your risk for diabetes by reducing the amount of insulin secreted by your pancreas.

  • Genetics

Though genetics can make you more susceptible to this disease, family history is not enough. Something in your environment must trigger it.

  • Pancreatic Disease

Exocrine pancreatic disease is a common contributing factor to diabetes mellitus. Benign and malignant pancreatic disease affects the way the pancreas makes insulin, increasing your risk for the development of diabetes.

  • Ethnic Background

Ethnic background can also be a contributing factor in the development of diabetes. African American men over the age of 20 are at the highest risk for developing this disease.

  • High Blood Pressure

Men with high blood pressure are also at increased risk for diabetes. Diabetes can also cause high blood pressure due to its debilitating effect on the kidneys.

  • Sedentary Lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle is a big risk factor for diabetes. If you want to prevent diabetes, you have to keep fit and stay active. This goes especially for those love handles. Remember, excess abdominal fat increases your risk for metabolic disorders.

  • Age

Men age 45 or over are at increased risk for developing diabetes.
Preventing Diabetes Mellitus
It may seem like you’re just doomed to develop diabetes if you have two or more of the risk factors. The truth is, you can prevent this disease by taking better care of yourself.

  • Eat Right

First, eat right. This means avoiding processed foods and eating more whole foods. The whole-food diet can help you lose weight and prevent diabetes. This means eating more organic vegetables, fruits, chicken, fish, and whole grains. Also, avoid sugar, both processed and fruit sugar. This doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a sweet snack every once in the while, but keep it to a minimum.

  • Lose Weight

To prevent diabetes, lose weight and get healthy. You’ll not only look better, you’ll feel better and prevent obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, and cancer.

  • Exercise Regularly

No matter what type of exercise you like to do, do it and do it often. Walking, hiking, biking, swimming, Pilates, racquet ball, whatever it is, take the time to get fit and you’ll stave off disease and take years off your age as well!
If you’re concerned about your risk for diabetes, there are plenty of steps you can take to get healthy and stay well. When it comes to preventing diabetes or any disease, a healthy diet and exercise is the ounce of prevention you need.

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