Diabetes is a chronic condition that insufficiently controlled, can put you at risk for vision problems, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, and perhaps amputation due to circulatory impairment. Continually increased levels of blood sugar can also cause erectile dysfunction in men, decreased libido in both men and women, and depression.
There are three types of diabetes. Type 1 is an immune system disorder, typically diagnosed in children or in young adults. In Type 1 diabetes, your body produces little or no insulin, rendering you insulin-dependent.
A second form, gestational diabetes, affects women during pregnancy. It can be controlled through diet and medication, and it usually subsides after the baby is born.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the condition. It’s most often diagnosed in middle-age adults and people who are obese. Treatment for Type 2 diabetes depends on the patient.
In many cases, Type 2 diabetes can be controlled through frequent, regular blood glucose monitoring, and diet and lifestyle changes. In many cases, simply losing weight can lead to improved insulin reaction and your body’s ability to manage blood sugar.
Insulin and blood sugar
To understand how your weight affects your body’s ability to properly manage blood sugar, it’s necessary to understand insulin’s role in keeping you healthy.
When you consume sugar, whether in fruits and vegetables or in the form of pastries, sodas, simple carbohydrates, and the like, your body reacts by producing insulin in the pancreas. Insulin’s purpose is to turn that sugar into the energy needed to keep your liver, muscles, and fat cells fueled and in good working order.
For people who are overweight, excess body fat creates a resistance to insulin, preventing the body from processing sugar and turning it into usable energy. All that sugar, or glucose, remains in the bloodstream, causing you to become diabetic.
Although other contributors such as genetics, ethnicity, age, and some medical conditions put you at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, being overweight puts you on a fast track to this chronic condition.
Excess weight and insulin
By middle age, many men and women have developed visceral fat, which is fat that lines the inside of the abdominal region. This is typically referred to as a “pot belly” or “beer belly.” Beyond leaving you self-conscious on the beach, that abdominal fat is putting your health at risk, more than any other area of fat on your body.
Anyone who has worn themselves out doing crunches understands that this type of fat is difficult to shed. What started out as an innocent little “pouch” of excess subcutaneous fat (fat that’s just under the skin) can easily turn into the visceral fat that surrounds the walls of your internal organs and puts you at a very high risk for insulin resistance, leading to diabetes. To lose the visceral fat, you must lose weight.
What to do if you’re at risk
The body mass index (BMI) is a good way to judge your weight-related risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Someone with a BMI of more than 30 (considered obese) is at up to 80 times the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes as someone of a normal BMI (under 25).
Take a look at your diet. It’s not difficult to discern whether you’re eating the right foods for your health. What about exercise? Just 30 minutes of walking five days per week, along with a diet low in fat and processed sugar, can do wonders to help you lose those extra pounds.
Any type of excess fat, visceral or subcutaneous, is not a good thing. If you’re overweight, lose the weight now.
If you’re struggling with obesity and concerned with your diabetes risk as well, talk to Dr. Bharat Gandhi at Medinet Family Care Clinic about lifestyle changes you can begin making today. Our compassionate staff will help you get started. Contact Medinet Family Care Clinic in Houston, and we can work together to prevent your risk of diabetes.