It’s hard to categorize diabetes as anything other than an epidemic. With 77 million Indians diagnosed with diabetes – a number that roughly translates to 1 in 11 Indians – it’s time to raise awareness about this disease and reduce its risk.
When it comes to type II diabetes, most of us believe that genetic links are the sole cause of the disease. While research suggests that people who have a parent or sibling with diabetes have a 40% chance of developing diabetes – a figure that rises to 70% if both parents or an identical twin has it – diabetes is not always an inherited disease.
Medical research also suggests that genetics alone cannot explain the incidence of type 2 diabetes; our life choices also play a big role.
Non-genetic causes of type 2 diabetes
Unhealthy lifestyle and diabetes go hand in hand. The sad truth is that this type of diabetes, which was once a disease of the elderly, has become increasingly prevalent among young people. These lifestyle factors are why:
Bad eating habits: Diets high in trans fats, processed sugars, carbohydrates, and fructose corn syrup lead to high blood sugar and obesity. All of these foods have been linked to the development of visceral fat and NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), both of which cause type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Sedentary life: The longer we sit, the more our metabolism slows down. This change in our metabolism can lead to insulin resistance, a condition in which the body cannot easily take up glucose from the blood, which can eventually lead to diabetes.
Bad sleeping habits: Sleep disorders such as repeated awakenings during the night, lack of sleep and irregular sleep all lead to glucose intolerance. Conditions such as insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea can also cause type 2 diabetes. Poor sleep increases cortisol levels, which makes it difficult for the hormone insulin to work properly, which makes sleep an important factor in the fight against diabetes.
Biohacks to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
Even if you have a family history of diabetes, you can very well reduce your risk by changing your lifestyle. Small, specific and targeted lifestyle changes, known as biohacks, can go a long way in helping you take full control of your health and stay disease free. Here are some biohacks you can start with:
1. Get at least 2.5 hours of exercise per week
Exercise is the best way to lose weight, keep the body fit and reduce glucose levels in the body. By being regularly physically active, you can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by 21%. And if you’re wondering how much exercise is enough to achieve that goal, here’s some help:
- Try to include at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of aerobic exercise per week, including brisk walking, swimming, biking, jogging, running, etc. You can also take a 30-minute walk after lunch to lower your blood sugar spike around lunchtime. duration and intensity.
- Combining aerobic exercise with resistance training two to three times a week for 30 to 45 minutes can improve your strength, balance, and ability to maintain a strong body.
- To get more movement into your work day, take a brisk walk for about 5 minutes every 30 minutes.
- Optimize your sleep
Sleeping at least 7 hours is vital for our overall health, especially when it comes to reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. To regulate your sleep cycle, you can set a bedtime reminder and an alarm wake up at the same time every day.
Plus, you can monitor your blood sugar before you go to bed. Keeping your blood sugar within the target range at night can ensure that your sleep will not be affected by blood sugar fluctuations at night.
- Adjust your diet for better blood sugar
Our diet plays an important role not only in providing our body with adequate nutrition for optimal functioning, but also in reducing the risk of diabetes.
Start by reducing your carbohydrate intake at each meal. Include foods that are low on the glycemic index, which are slowly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, causing smaller spikes in your blood sugar. Broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas, and quinoa are a few low GI foods that you can easily include in your diet.
Healthy fats, primarily unsaturated fats, promote healthy blood cholesterol levels and good vascular health. To get your daily dose of these, take a tablespoon of olive oil with each meal. You can also opt for sunflower and canola oil, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish like salmon and mackerel.
Watch your body to avoid diabetes
By monitoring your blood sugar levels, you will be able to better understand your body and make corrective decisions more quickly. While you’re at it, you should also pay attention to a few other biomarkers, like HRV and your sleep data, to make sure everything is in order.
- Rely on daily glucometer screenings
Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and blood glucose meters (BGMs) are commonly used to measure blood glucose. You should measure before and after meals, after training, and after sleep to check for fluctuations in glucose levels.
- Rely on blood tests to understand your risk
Blood tests can help predict type 2 diabetes. Here are some you should do regularly:
- The A1C test is a simple blood test that measures your average blood sugar over the past 3 months.
- The fasting blood glucose test is another common test to measure sugar level after an 8-12 hour fasting window.
- High uric acid levels or hyperuricemia can predict type 2 diabetes.
- Liver enzyme tests specifically targeting ALT levels can indicate a potential risk for type 2 diabetes. Liver function test is also useful in evaluating NAFLD which can also lead to type 2 diabetes.
- Another blood test that can detect potential risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease is one that measures C-reactive protein.
- Finally, please test your fasting insulin levels. Rising levels can be one of the first signs of insulin resistance and action can be taken years before a formal diagnosis of the disease.
- Use your smartwatch to measure heart rate variability data
HRV is the change in the time interval between heart beats. Studies have shown that healthy people with low HRV are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. A high HRV score at rest indicates better health.
Trust your sleep with sleep devices
Tracking your sleep in its different phases (REM and NREM) can let you know if you are getting the required amount of rest, which can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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