Contributing Factors to High Blood Glucose Levels
Monitoring certain aspects of your life can help you understand your risk of type 2 diabetes. These factors contribute to glucose build up in your bloodstream:
Ninety percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. Fatty tissue is resistant to insulin. The more fatty tissue you have in your body, the more difficult it is for insulin to travel through your body and remove glucose from your blood. Losing 5-10 percent of your weight can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown people who have lost 5 - 10 percent of their weight have reduced their development of diabetes by 40 - 60 percent during the studies.
What You Eat
You’ll want to avoid eating red meat, processed meat and anything with lots of sugar in it (i.e. sodas, juices, pastries, cereals, etc.). As these foods are digested, they turn into blood glucose, which in turn causes your body to do extra work to remove it.
If you have low levels of the “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein or HDL), you have a higher chance of getting type 2 diabetes. Ideally, you want a 2:1 ratio of triglycerides to HDL cholesterol. When you don’t have that ratio (or better), your blood is clogged with triglycerides, which a type of fat carried within your blood, and, as mentioned above, fatty tissue is resistant to insulin and makes it difficult for insulin to travel through your bloodstream to remove glucose. People with higher proportions of triglycerides have a higher chance of type 2 diabetes.
How You Move
When you work out you’re using up the glucose in your body as energy. You’re also making it easier for the insulin in your body to do its job because your cells become more sensitive to insulin when you work out.
By the same token, when you’re inactive, your body isn’t using up glucose as energy. Instead, that glucose sits in your bloodstream and the insulin in your body has to do more work in order to remove it.
Your Waist Size
There’s a higher chance your body will be resistant to insulin the larger your waist is. Insulin is what removes glucose from your blood. Therefore, poor insulin resistance leads to a higher percentage of glucose in your blood. To avoid this risk factor, you want your waist to be smaller than 35 inches if you’re a woman and smaller than 40 inches if you are a man.
Your Sleep Patterns
People who have obstructive sleep apnea are prone to having insulin resistance. This is also likely for people who have widely varying sleep schedules. Short sleep times can increase ghrelin in your body, which is an appetite-stimulating hormone that could cause you to overeat foods with high glucose levels. Lack of sleep can also increase cortisol in your bloodstream, which causes body tissue to be less sensitive to insulin. It also decreases your body’s tolerance for glucose.
There’s not a lot that you can do to change your genetics. If your parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes, your chances of developing it increase. That’s not to say that it’s inevitable. It just means you have to work harder than most people to reduce your chances of getting type 2 diabetes.
It’s more likely for people who are black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American to get type 2 diabetes. In part, that could be because people of African, Southeast Asian or Mediterranean descent are more prone to blood variants, like sickle cell disease. However, research has left questions in this area.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) typically means excess hair growth, irregular periods and obesity for women. It’s a common condition that increases the chance a woman gets type 2 diabetes. People who have PCOS often have higher levels of circulating insulin, which is the body’s way of compensating for insulin resistance. Your body’s overcompensation makes it difficult to spot the signs of insulin resistance at first, which also makes it more difficult to know to take steps to mitigate type 2 diabetes.