Have you – or someone you care about – been diagnosed with Prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes, and you want to learn more about these conditions?

Or, do you have Diabetes in your family (or have other risk factors) and are concerned about getting it yourself?

In that case, you might be curious to know:

  • What are the risk factors to watch out for, that make you more likely to develop Prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes?
  • And what is happening in your body when Type 2 Diabetes or Prediabetes develops?

That’s what we’re going to talk about today!

Risk Factors

The first thing to be aware of are the many risk factors for diabetes, so that you can be on the lookout for these in yourself and the people you care about, because people who have these genetic, lifestyle and other risk factors are more likely to develop Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes. Some risk factors are, obviously, beyond our control, like our age and our genetics. But many others are things we can do something about!

Some of these risk factors will probably be familiar to you, but some may surprise you.

Risk factors that increase one’s likelihood of developing diabetes include:

·         age 45 or older
·         body fat percentage: >25% for men, >30% for women, regardless of BMI
·         environmental toxin exposure (ex. mold, heavy metals, pesticides, etc.)
·         ethnicity: African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander American
·         family: a parent or sibling with diabetes
·         gestational diabetes, previous occurrence
·         heart disease or stroke, previous occurrence
·         high blood pressure (>130 systolic and/or >80 diastolic)
·         hormonal imbalances, such as hypothyroid, adrenal fatigue, low testosterone (esp in men) and low estrogen (in women)
·         infections (bacterial, viral, parasitic)
·         inflammation: chronic systemic inflammation
·         lipids: high triglycerides (>150) and/or low HDL cholesterol (<60)
·         metabolic syndrome – a combination of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL, and large waist size
·         overweight or obesity (BMI >25)
·         physical inactivity
·         polycystic ovary syndrome, also called PCOS
·         prescription medications, including glucocorticoids, certain antipsychotics, and statins
·         sleep problems (not enough or poor quality sleep), especially sleep apnea
·         stress: chronic elevated stress levels
·         waist circumference (>32” for women, >34” for men)
·         waist to hip ratio: >0.89 for men, >0.82 for women

Holy moly, that’s a lot of risk factors! Which helps explain, at least in part, why we modern humans have such a propensity for developing blood sugar issues. In fact, the CDC now estimates that 130 million U.S. adults has either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. That’s 1 in every 2 people! :-O

Let’s talk now about what this disease is all about – what is happening in one’s body when prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are developing.

What IS Diabetes?

Type 2 Diabetes and its precursor, Prediabetes, are diseases that develop when your body has difficulty managing your blood sugar levels. (Note: Hypoglycemia is related, as it is also due to poor blood sugar regulation, and typically develops before Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes – check out my blog post “Early Warning Signs of T2D” for more on this important topic!)

As part of your natural digestive processes, your body breaks down the foods you eat into simple sugars, and these are then released into your bloodstream. This causes your blood sugar to go up, which signals your pancreas (a digestive organ) to release the hormone insulin.

Insulin’s main job it is to move sugar out of the blood and into cells. Insulin acts like a key, unlocking your body’s cells so they open up and let the sugar in, where it is then used as energy to power your body (or, when there’s more sugar than can be used right away, insulin tucks the sugar away into fat cells, storing it as body fat for later use as energy).

With diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin, or your cells are no longer responding optimally to insulin, and so your blood sugar is not regulated as well as it should be. When there isn’t enough insulin being produced, or cells stop responding to insulin’s signal, then too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream = elevated blood sugar.

Insufficient insulin production is typically associated with Type 1 Diabetes, or very late stage Type 2 Diabetes when the pancreas just isn’t able to make insulin any more after decades of over-producing it to try to keep up with chronically elevated blood sugar levels. The poor pancreas just poops out.

When cells no longer respond optimally to insulin’s signal, however, this is called “insulin resistance”, and this is the primary cause of Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes.

So, how do you know if you have prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes?

Testing For Diabetes

If you have any of the risk factors discussed earlier, then it’s a good idea for you to test certain blood markers regularly (at least twice a year), to keep an eye out for the development of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Fasting Blood Glucose

First, you’ll need to check your fasting blood glucose level (that’s the amount of sugar you have in your blood in the morning, after fasting – consuming nothing but plain water – for at least 12 hours, overnight). You can test this quickly and easily at home – you’ll need a monitor, test strips, and lancets – and you’ll have your results in seconds.

For the best combo of price and accuracy, I recommend True Metrix brand:

Or you can get this test done at the lab, where they’ll do the blood draw for you, and you’ll have your results in a couple days.

If your fasting blood sugar level is over 120 mg/dL, then you officially have Type 2 Diabetes, and if it is between 100 and 120, then you have Prediabetes.

Other ways to determine if you have Prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes are:

2HPPG: 2-Hour Post-Prandial Glucose

This is your blood sugar level 2 hours after finishing a meal. Like with fasting blood glucose, you can use the same supplies as above for testing this at home (the test is the same, only the timing changes), or order it from the lab.

  • If your 2HPPG is 140-180 mg/dL, then you officially have impaired glucose tolerance and Prediabetes.
  • If your 2HPPG is >180 mg/dL, then you officially have Type 2 Diabetes.

A1c: Glycosylated Hemoglobin

This blood test measures your average blood sugar over the past 90 days.

You can test your A1c at home using test kits from Test Symptoms at Home, or you can order this test from the lab.

Summing Up

Now you know:

  • many of the risk factors for developing diabetes
  • what’s happening in one’s body when this disease develops
  • and some of the blood markers to keep an eye on to check for the development of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes

Do you have some of those risk factors discussed earlier? Then it’s time to get some bloodwork done, either at home or at the lab, and do it regularly, too – at least twice per year.

And if it turns out that you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, then check out my post Reversing Diabetes Naturally.

Next Steps

Want more guidance on steps to take on your holistic health journey?

Check out my Roadmap to Optimal Health, as well as my many articles, podcast episodes, and healthy, delicious recipes.