Why are your body's levels of blood sugar, insulin, triglycerides and cholesterol key to understanding pre-diabetes and Type-2 diabetes?
Your body makes insulin so glucose - sugar in the blood - can be absorbed into your cells and turned into energy. Insulin also enables your body to absorb triglycerides - fat in the blood. Sometimes excess glucose and triglycerides can accumulate in the blood (i.e. insulin resistance and pre-diabetes) - most often due to lifestyle factors that you can control! The three most important lifestyle factors associated with high blood sugar and triglycerides are, being too sedentary (not exercising), poor nutrition choices (often due to stress in our lives) and an unhealthy weight and body composition (too high a percentage of fat). The other important risk factor is a family history of Type-2 diabetes - which is related to belonging to certain ethnic groups. A family history of Type-2 diabetes and certain ethnicities mean you are at higher risk of developing Type-2 diabetes in your lifetime than other Americans. If you are in this situation, exercise, better nutrition and healthy body weight and composition are critical.
Insulin resistance is the first indication of a potential future with health complications related to pre-diabetes and Type-2 diabetes. Insulin is a hormone which enables the cells in your body to absorb blood glucose. Insulin resistance occurs when higher than normal levels of glucose begin to accumulate in the blood. Insulin resistance is associated with elevated levels of triglycerides and lower levels of HDL ("good" cholesterol). Insulin resistance is an opportunity - if discovered - because it is reversible with changes to certain lifestyle factors. Insulin resistance often progresses to pre-diabetes. Today, more than 86 million persons are estimated to be prediabetic. Pre-diabetes is also reversible with only modest changes in lifestyle. Current research indicates pre-diabetes will generally progress to a diagnosis of Type-2 diabetes within 10 years if left un-managed. Once a diagnosis of Type-2 diabetes is made, the management of cholesterol (lipid targets) becomes essential - in addition to managing blood sugar. The fact is persons with Type-2 diabetes have risk of major coronary events similar to that of (non-diabetic) individuals with already established coronary heart disease. The bottom line - taking action today, can mean a more healthy future.
How is cholesterol related to Type 2 diabetes?
Like tryglycerides, cholesterol is a type of lipid - a fat. LDL ("bad" cholesterol) is found in many foods we all eat. HDL ("good" cholesterol) transports LDL to the liver where it is eliminated. Type-2 diabetes is associated with impairment of this important HDL/LDL transport function. High LDL is an important warning sign of cardio-vascular disease - which is, not surprisingly, one of the leading complications for people with diabetes.
Clinical research indicates that persons with insulin resistance, the earliest indication of potential diabetes concern, often progress to a pre-diabetes state and persons with pre-diabetes typically develop Type-2 diabetes within 10 years. Unfortunately, many persons with insulin resistance or pre-diabetes may not even be aware of their elevated blood sugar, impaired insulin response, elevated triglycerides and impaired LDL transport. For this reason, the American Diabetes Association recommends regular screening for diabetes beginning at age 45 - even in the absence of any of the four risk major factors.