According to the World Health Organisation, 422 million people live with diabetes. For individuals with diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, due to which there is a high concentration of glucose in the bloodstream. While there is no definitive cure for this condition, proper day-to-day management concerning diet, exercise, and lifestyle can make a huge difference.
The most common types of diabetes are type 1 and 2 diabetes, prediabetes and gestational diabetes. In this article, let us explore what causes diabetes and how to control diabetes.
What causes diabetes (type 1)?
Also known as juvenile diabetes, type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition where the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed. The body cannot break down glucose due to a lack of insulin, which results in high blood sugar levels. Let us find out what causes diabetes (type 1).
- Endocrinal issues
- Disorders of the endocrine system, such as overproduction of the growth hormone, may reduce the pancreas’s efficiency in producing insulin. This condition leads to type 1 diabetes.
- Hereditary factors
- Research has shown that the inheritance of particular HLA gene variants is linked with the increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
- Autoimmune diseases
- Certain autoimmune disorders like thyroid disease, autoimmune gastritis, pernicious anaemia and vitiligo may destroy the autoimmune response of pancreatic beta cells. This causes faulty insulin production.
- Viruses and infections
- Type 1 diabetes can be triggered by a common cold or flu virus. Certain groups of enteroviruses may cause the immune system to turn against the body, leading to type 1 diabetes.
- Unfavourable environmental conditions
- Certain pollutants, vaccines, and even lack of physical activity may cause pancreatic inability to produce enough insulin, causing type 1 diabetes.
- Effects of drugs and toxins
- Specific anti-hypertensive vasodilators and corticosteroids in high doses may cause type 1 diabetes.
- Damage to the pancreas
- Any trauma or injury to the pancreas may lead to its surgical removal. Due to the absence of the pancreas, there is no insulin production, which results in type 1 diabetes symptoms.
What causes diabetes (type 2)?
Also known as diabetes mellitus, type 2 diabetes is a chronic metabolic condition in which the body displays increased insulin resistance. It cannot utilise insulin effectively to break down glucose, leading to high sugar levels. Let us learn what causes diabetes (type 2).
- Lifestyle issues
- Obesity and lack of physical activity are two leading causes of type 2 diabetes. These lead to insulin-related abnormalities.
- Genetic factors
- If one or more family members have been affected with type 2 diabetes, it increases the individual’s chances of developing it.
- The body’s inability to utilise insulin
- Insulin sensitivity decreases, causing the glucose levels in the bloodstream to rise. The body’s cells become resistant to insulin. Thus, the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to overcome this resistance.
Causes of gestational diabetes
During pregnancy, the placenta produces certain hormones. These decrease the insulin sensitivity of the cells, causing blood sugar levels to skyrocket.
Causes of prediabetes
High blood pressure, stress, cardiovascular disease and sleep disorders may lead to prediabetes. If not controlled early, these causes may lead to full-fledged diabetes.
Risk factors that lead to diabetes
Apart from information on “what causes diabetes”, one must also be aware of the risk factors that may lead to the condition.
- Age about 40 years of age
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Abnormal blood lipid levels
- High blood pressure
- BMI above 23
- Unhealthy food choices
- Family history
Foods that may cause diabetes
In the previous sections, we have learnt about what causes diabetes. However, are there specific foods that increase the chances of developing diabetes? The answer is yes. Sweetened beverages, artificial sweeteners, processed foods, foods rich in trans fats, packaged snacks, and fried foods may lead to risk factors that progress towards diabetes.
Management and treatment of diabetes
Once we are aware of the causes, it becomes essential to know how to control diabetes. It can be managed by:
- Oral medications – Prescribed medicines and dosages by the physician should be followed strictly to keep blood sugar levels in check.
- Insulin doses – Some people may require additional insulin doses via injection, inhaler or pump to manage their blood sugar levels.
- Diet – Following a healthy diet is imperative. Including green leafy vegetables, non-starchy food grains, fruits, whole grains and lentils in the diet go a long way to managing the condition effectively.
- Exercise – Regular exercise for at least 30 minutes a day help control blood glucose levels. It decreases the risk of obesity and is beneficial for cardiac health.
It is not just enough to know the causes of diabetes. One must also learn how to control diabetes. Although it is a life-threatening condition, it can be efficiently managed through timely medication, a healthy diet, and systematic exercise.