elderly man with diabetes

Common Cause of Diabetes in Seniors

At least 27 million Americans are living with diabetes and close to 3 times that number with prediabetes. Most wonder why they developed diabetes.  What causes diabetes?  Read on.  The actual cause of diabetes stems from excess insulin in the body’s system.

When it comes to Type 1 diabetes, the answer is relatively simple. The pancreas does not manufacture any insulin, which is the pancreas number one job.  What is insulin?  It is a hormone that reduces blood sugar in the body. Why and how the pancreas gets damaged is not fully understood. 

But it is believed that it is an autoimmune process, whereby the body’s own defense mechanism destroys the pancreas, thinking that it is foreign tissue. The pancreas is permanently damaged, and the individual has to rely on insulin manufactured in another way for the rest of their life. 

When it comes to Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas does produce insulin, but the major problem is that the body has developed a resistance to it, meaning that the insulin does not work as normal. It is believed that increased fat in the tissues incites an inflammatory reaction that causes insulin resistance. 

The insulin resistance is most pronounced in the liver, but as the condition progresses, the muscles in the body will stop responding to insulin. Eventually, many other organs will also build up insulin resistance.  As insulin resistance sets in, the liver is the first organ to stop responding to insulin, followed by the muscles and eventually fatty tissues.  This process, however, is reversible. If the individual loses weight, the fat content in the body drops, and insulin resistance disappears.

Risk Factors

Other answers to the question, “What causes diabetes?” can be gleaned from knowing about several risk factors for Type 2 diabetes.

  1. Weight Gain:

One of the biggest risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes is weight gain. As the amount of fat in the body increases, this leads to the development of insulin resistance. It is the fat that is responsible for causing insulin resistance leading to high levels of glucose. The good news is that individuals who lose weight can reverse insulin resistance. 

  1. Poor Diet: 

Closely linked to weight gain, another root cause of diabetes is the consumption of an unhealthy diet. Today, millions of people regularly consume fast foods and processed foods, like pizzas, potato chips, hamburgers, french fries, desserts, steak, pork, bacon, etc. 

These foods may taste great, but they tend to be high in calories and also contain unhealthy ingredients, like saturated fats. A poor diet is responsible for the epidemic of obesity in children. A high-calorie diet gradually leads to weight gain, which in turn causes insulin resistance.

  1. Physical Inactivity: 

Another factor closely linked to obesity is lack of exercise. A significant number of people today rarely do any type of physical activity. Exercise is known to increase the sensitivity of tissues to insulin and can lead to the lowering of blood sugars. 

Exercise can also lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and body weight. Despite the virtues of exercise, many people still prefer to sit on a couch and watch TV for hours, which in the end results in obesity and many other complications.

  1. Family History: 

If there is a history of diabetes in your family, then the chances are that you may also develop diabetes. But this association is not 100 percent, and you can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by changing your lifestyle and adopting healthy eating habits.

Exercise and Diabetes

How much exercise do you need?  Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent weight gain and insulin resistance. Exercise and diabetes need to be partners, to work together to lower body fat.  The key is to be physically active; the type of exercise is not necessarily important. You can walk, bicycle, swim, jog, or do aerobics, but you must do these activities regularly or at least 4-5 times a week. 

Choose an activity that you like because that should help ensure you will continue with it. To start, walk for 30-45 minutes at least 4-5 times per week. Walking can help you reduce weight, lower your blood pressure, reverse your diabetes, and, therefore, better the quality of your life. At the same time, adopt healthy eating habits. While you are allowed to eat fast foods once in a while, try to eat a more plant-based diet rather than meat-based. 

Speak to a dietitian or a diabetic nurse who can help prepare a menu plan for you.  Remember that if you have diabetes, you need to follow your condition closely with a healthcare professional.

Cano Health can help you make a difference in your life with full-service health care.  Cano Health specializes in senior care and proactive approaches to wellness with a personalized care plan.  Call them today at 1.855.975.5119.