As many as 54 million American adults are considered “pre-diabetic” according to the Centers for Disease Control. A pre-diabetic condition is defined as a state in which blood glucose levels are elevated but have not yet met the standard to qualify as diabetes. Both pre-diabetes and diabetes can be detected with a common blood-glucose test performed at a routine physical exam.
Research has revealed another insulin-related disorder that may affect as many as 1 in 5 Americans, according to experts. Risk factors for Metabolic Disorder (also known as Syndrome X) are high blood pressure, high insulin levels and unusually high cholesterol. Men with a waist size larger than 40 inches and women with a waist size larger than 35 inches are considered ‘at risk.’ As with diabetes, the cells are unable to make use of the body’s insulin. Metabolic Disorder is considered a potential – but not certain – precursor to Type 2 diabetes and shares many of its characteristics, particularly with regard to symptoms and risk factors such as age and ethnicity. Sufferers are also more prone to coronary heart disease.
COULD YOU BE AT RISK?
The most common form of diabetes is Type 2 Diabetes, for which the risk factors are heredity, obesity, advanced age, inactive lifestyle and race/ethnicity, with African American, Hispanic American, Native American and Asian American populations disproportionately at risk.
Diabetes is characterized by the body’s inability to produce or make proper use of insulin. In the case of Type 1 Diabetes, the body destroys the cells that make the insulin that controls glucose levels, and diabetics must inject insulin into the body at regular intervals. In order for the body to utilize sugar as fuel, insulin must move the sugar from the bloodstream into the cells. A sugar build-up in the cells can lead to complications such as heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, nervous system disease, kidney disease, blindness, dental disease, amputations and pregnancy complications and miscarriage.
While there is no known prevention for Type 1 Diabetes, fortunately Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Disorder may be preventable with common-sense lifestyle choices. The American Diabetes Association recommends that you:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Consume more fruits and vegetables
- Choose whole grains over white/refined pasta, bread and rice
- Opt for low-fat versions of dairy products
- Choose leaner cuts of meat
- Practice portion control even with healthy foods
- Exercise for 20-30 minutes per day
- Don’t smoke – smoking increases insulin resistance