What Causes Diabetes?

Causes of Diabetes.

In Type 1 diabetes the current opinion is that the body itself attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells that are found in the area of the Pancreas known as the Islets of Langerhan. This is thought to be caused by a failure in the auto immune system perhaps brought on by a virus infection.

For Type 2 Diabetes it is even less clear, however insulin resistance is a strong factor in developing this type of diabetes. You are far more likely to develop it too if you are overweight and take little exercise.

Genetic Predisposition to Diabetes

For Type 2 Diabetes there is a strong family link and you are more at risk of developing diabetes if you have a close relative with diabetes.

For Type 1's the increased risk is usually slight but there are a few families where the family link is stronger.

Lifestyle Factors.

Other 'lifestyle' factors such as being over weight and poor diet are not thought to actually cause diabetes but they put more strain on the pancreas by requiring the production of more insulin.

Infection, injury or even stress again will not cause diabetes but as the body naturally produces more blood sugar at these times they may the be 'the last straw' and be an apparent start to later diabetic problems.

Good diet, regular exercise and weight control all reduce that risk and are especially important if you have a close relative with Type 2 diabetes.

Insulin Resistance

Almost 1 in 4 of the population are resistant to insulin. For the majority of these the pancreas takes up the slack and produces more insulin to compensate. This does however put more strain of the pancreas and if you are susceptible to diabetes may ultimately lead to Type 2 Diabetes.

Insulin Resistance is also known as Syndrome X or Glucose Intolerance.

Insulin Resistance Indicators

Apple and Pear Body Shapes

While overall weight is a major factor in insulin resistance the distribution of body fat is also important. Apple shaped people who have more abdominal fat round the waist are more at risk of becoming insulin resistant and ultimately are more at risk of become diabetic.

The 'Apple Shape' is a waist to hip ratio above 1 for men and above .8 for women. Abdominal Fat tends to be the first type of fat lost when you lose weight so its particularly worth trying to lose it if your an 'apple' shape!
  Less likely to become insulin resistant More likely to become insulin resistant
Men: Waist to Hip Ratio Less than 1 - Pear 1 or More - Apple
Women: Waist to Hip Ratio Less than 0.8 - Pear 0.8 or More - Apple

How to Reduce Insulin Resistance

If you are over weight get as close as you can to the body weight range recommended for your height and exercise regularly.

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