Why is type 2 diabetes considered a lifestyle disease?

Many diseases arise as a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Physical activity, diet, stress levels, and sleep pattern are all lifestyle choices that may raise the likeliness of developing certain conditions in people who are genetically predisposed to them

According to MedicineNet, the term ‘lifestyle disease’ refers to a condition related to the way a person lives. Some of the diseases included in that term are type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, as well as any negative effects of smoking and drug abuse.

Researchers are still studying how genetics and the environment contribute to these diseases, and exactly which genes or mutations carry the risk. But studies do show when the lifestyle associated with the onset of the illness change, the symptoms and even the disease itself may recede.

As a lifestyle disease, type 2 diabetes is the result of a complex interaction between genetics and lifestyle. When a person has a genetic predisposition, an unhealthy diet, and low physical activity, he or she may develop diabetes over time. This means the body does not produce insulin or is unable to use insulin as well as it used to, creating a spike in blood sugar which damages your heart, kidneys, and eyes, among other organs.

According to a 2013 study published by the American Physiological Society, type 2 diabetes is on the rise in developing countries. Lifestyle changes due to urbanization and the adoption of a more Western diet, as well as the availability of cheap, fast foods, suggests the environment is a contributing factor in diabetes

Let’s dive deeper into the most important lifestyle choices that may contribute to developing type 2 diabetes.

Physical Activity

Among the many benefits of exercise, one of the most important ones is preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes. Physical activity helps you maintain a healthy weight, uses glucose as energy, and help you use insulin properly.

Research seems to support the idea that exercise helps keep diabetes at bay. A 1991 Swedish study shows that increasing physical activity reduces the developing of diabetes in 50% in middle-aged men. And in the 2001 Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study, the group that lost weight by increasing their physical activity and an improved diet reduced their risk of diabetes by 58%.

Another risk factor for diabetes is abdominal fat. If your body stores a lot of fat in your abdomen, your risk of diabetes increases.

Unhealthy Meals

While exercise is important to control your weight, and use up glucose more efficiently, it’s also important to focus on your diet.

Foods high in fat and sugar and poor in fiber in nutrients put you at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. To prevent blood sugar spikes and weight gain, ditch the unhealthy foods and snacks and replace them with vegetables, fruits, and whole grain.

The combination of an inappropriate diet and lack of physical activity leads to obesity, which, in turn, makes you more susceptible to diabetes and other health conditions.

Changing your diet might look easier said than done, but it only takes a little planning and the positive impact on your health will be noticeable.

However, it’s important not to think of ‘lifestyle-related diseases’ as a justification to blame a patient for their conditions. Instead, it should work as an encouragement for patients to take back their health into their own hands and work towards improving it.

Overweight and Obesity

The fact that obesity and overweight greatly increases risks of a type 3 diabetes diagnosis is probably the most important reason why it is a lifestyle disease. In fact, many times people who lose significant amounts of weight can reverse type 2 diabetes.

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