What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?

junk food

Story at-a-glance -

  • Type 2 diabetes is caused by high levels of blood sugar due to your body’s inability to react properly to insulin, an effect that is commonly known as insulin resistance
  • One major factor in the development of Type 2 diabetes is an unhealthy diet

Type 2 diabetes is caused by high levels of blood sugar due to your body’s inability to react properly to insulin, an effect that is commonly known as insulin resistance.1

Insulin is a hormone that plays a crucial role in the digestive process because it helps transport sugar from the bloodstream into all the cells throughout your body. With Type 2 diabetes, insulin isn’t properly absorbed, causing sugar to remain in the bloodstream. Eventually, symptoms of Type 2 diabetes appear due to the prolonged presence of sugar in the blood.2

An Unhealthy Diet Is a Major Contributor to Type 2 Diabetes

One major factor in the development of Type 2 diabetes is an unhealthy diet. Consuming junk foods, processed meats and high-sugar beverages can greatly contribute to weight gain because they’re filled with trans fats, fructose and other chemical additives that can adversely affect your health.

Furthermore, these foods are low in nutritional value and fiber — two important components that may help lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes.3

As glucose consistently enters your bloodstream, your pancreas compensates by creating more insulin. Over time , this organ will eventually fail to keep up with your body’s demand, leading to excess sugar buildup.4

Other Major Risk Factors Associated With Diabetes

Aside from an unhealthy diet, there are many factors that can influence the development of insulin resistance and subsequent Type 2 diabetes later in your life. Chief among them include:5

Weight — If you’re overweight or obese, you have a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes because the excess fat hinders your body’s ability to use insulin properly.6

Fat distribution — The risk becomes higher when body fat is generally concentrated in the abdomen.

Sedentary lifestyle — Not getting enough exercise increases your chances of weight gain, which is correlated to Type 2 Diabetes.

Sitting throughout the majority of your day prevents your body from using up the glucose in your system.

Family history — It is believed that there is a hereditary factor to Type 2 diabetes.

If one or both of your parents have the disease, your risk is higher than normal.

Ethnicity — Experts are not sure how ethnicity plays a role in the development of Type 2 diabetes, but they observed that Hispanics, African-Americans, American Indians and Asian-Americans are more likely to develop the disease.

Age — The risk of Type 2 diabetes increases significantly after the age of 45.

However, there’s still the possibility that the disease may appear in children, teenagers and young adults.

Prediabetes — Certain lifestyle choices can lead to prediabetes, a condition wherein blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but symptoms do not manifest yet.

Left untreated, it can progress to true Type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes — If you developed gestational diabetes while you are pregnant, your risk of Type 2 diabetes increases in the future.

Health Complications Caused By Diabetes

Eventually, excess sugar in the blood can lead to various health complications. The most well-known examples include:7

Neuropathy — Excess sugar in the blood can damage the capillaries that nourish your nerves.

When the nerve walls become injured, you may experience tingling, numbness or pain, which are indicators that your nervous system is not functioning properly.

Damaged nerves in other areas can cause other problems. For example, faulty nerves in your digestive system can trigger nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

Foot damagePeople who suffer from diabetes have a larger risk of developing poor blood flow to their extremities, most notably the feet.

If a limb becomes wounded, the decreased amount of blood slows down healing, which increases the chances of getting an infection that may lead to an amputation.

Hearing loss — Hearing loss is twice as common in people who have diabetes compared to those who don’t have it.

According to the journal Diabetes Care, two-thirds of diabetics are affected with this complication.8

It’s not exactly known how hearing loss occurs among diabetics, but the American Diabetes Association believes that the sugar in your blood damages the blood vessels in your ear, resulting in hampered function.9

Hypoglycemia — Those who take insulin and certain medications run the risk of developing hypoglycemia in an effort to normalize blood sugar levels as quickly as possible.

As a result, you may develop blood sugar levels lower than normal, causing various symptoms such as:10

Kidney damage — Uncontrolled diabetes can hinder normal kidney function. If left untreated, it may eventually lead to permanent damage, requiring you to undergo dialysis or even a kidney transplant.11

Cardiovascular disease — Type 2 diabetes can greatly increase your risk of developing various forms of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks.

Diabetes is believed to change the chemical makeup of certain substances in your blood, which can cause your blood vessels to narrow or allow plaque to build up in pathways.12

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