Type 2 Diabetes: Could You Have it and Not Even Know?

Type 2 or adult-onset diabetes does not normally come on like a lightning bolt or an earthquake, but silently develops over years.
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Do any of these sound like you?

  1. You feel sluggish or have a little less "get up and go" than previously, but you attribute it to high stress levels or increased age.
  2. You've had gradual weight gain and chalk it up to age.
  3. You have an increased desire for carbohydrates and never really feel full after eating.
  4. People close to you wonder how you can always eat at the drop of a hat.

If so, you could you be one of the 7 million people in the U.S. with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 or adult-onset diabetes does not normally come on like a lightning bolt or an earthquake, but silently develops over years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, type two diabetes affects more than 25.8 million people or 8.3 percent of the U.S population. Experts predict a whopping 10 percent increase in adult diabetes in the next decade.

Anne Peters, M.D., a leading diabetologist and researcher at University of Southern California (USC), believes that the average person diagnosed with type two diabetes actually had it for seven years prior to diagnosis!

How can this happen? Or better yet, how can you monitor whether you are a type two diabetic or at risk for diabetes?

1. Get a physical every year and monitor your fasting glucose (blood sugar) levels. The ideal number is less than 95. If your numbers are consistently above 100 or are in the 100-115 range, you could be pre-diabetic or diabetic.

2. Ask your physician yearly to monitor a blood test called glycosylated hemoglobin A1C. This simple test measures what your blood sugar has been averaging over the previous three months. The number (depending on the laboratory) should be between 4-6. If it is over six, you could be diabetic. If you have a parent or sibling with type two or adult onset diabetes, this test is a must on a yearly basis.

3. Check your triglyceride levels. This blood test is part of the cholesterol panel. Triglycerides are the storage form of fat and are associated with carbohydrate sensitivity in the body. An ideal number is below 150. If your number is over 200, it is associated with insulin resistance and possible future diabetes.

4. Check your cravings. If you are continually craving starchy carbohydrates and sugar, you may be insulin resistant. Insulin resistance can be genetic or acquired by an unhealthful lifestyle. Eating regular amounts of processed carbohydrates can lead to continual cravings for more food, which not only increases weight, but taxes the pancreas on a regular basis, increasing risk for diabetes.

5. Monitor your waist circumference. Men with a waist circumference larger than 40 inches, or women with a 35-inch waist or greater, are at a high risk of type two diabetes due to increased visceral or belly fat. A large waist circumference is an early indicator of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Other Ways to Take Control

Some individuals are just born with a predisposition toward insulin resistance and need to adjust their diets to eat more protein and consume their carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables and unprocessed starches such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, etc.

Adding regular activity and exercise on a daily basis helps lower levels of insulin resistance and offset the genetic tendency toward diabetes.

Having your blood measures regularly monitored is essential. The goal of preventing and managing type two diabetes is education.

Keep yourself out of denial that it could never happen to you. With one in three individuals being insulin resistant and overweight, the odds of type 2 diabetes are high.

High levels of thirst, urination or hunger are critical signs of high blood sugars and not the norm. Therefore, close monitoring of blood work and subtle shifts in energy, weight and cravings may be necessary to protect yourself so you don't find your physician imparting the "no warning" earthquake of a diabetes diagnosis in your near future.

Susan is the author of "A Recipe for Life by the Doctor's Dietitian." For more information, visit susandopart.com.

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