The environment may play a role in the development of diabetes.
Diabetes is a serious health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While genetics and lifestyle choices are known to be the leading causes of diabetes, recent studies have shown that the environment impacts diabetes and may also play a role in its development.
Environmental factors, such as air pollution and exposure to certain toxins, can increase the risk of diabetes. Air pollution, such as smog and smoke, can contain chemicals and particles that can affect insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, increasing the risk of diabetes. Exposure to certain toxins, such as lead and cadmium, has also been linked to an increased risk of diabetes.
Air pollution has been documented to change endothelial function, trigger inflammation and insulin resistance, and is associated with elevated risk of hypertension. Air pollution and road traffic noise may also adversely affect blood lipid levels that in turn may influence blood pressure and T2DM risk.
In addition to air pollution and toxins, environmental factors such as diet and physical activity can also influence diabetes risk. Diets high in processed foods and sugars can increase the risk of diabetes, as can a sedentary lifestyle. People who don’t get enough physical activity are at higher risk for developing diabetes.
Finally, stress is another environmental factor that can increase the risk of diabetes. Studies have shown that chronic stress can lead to inflammation and hormonal imbalances, both of which can increase the risk of diabetes.
By understanding how environmental factors can affect diabetes, people can take steps to reduce their risk. Reducing air pollution and exposure to toxins, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular physical activity can all help reduce the risk of diabetes. Additionally, making sure to manage stress levels can also help.
What can you do to limit the impact of environmental factors on diabetes?
Reduce exposure to traffic and outdoor air pollution since it can reduce your body’s ability to regulate insulin production and blood sugar.
People living with diabetes are especially vulnerable to the adverse health effects of exposure to harmful particles or air pollution indoors and outdoors. Inhaling pollutants like smoke, vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, and haze from burning fossil fuels can increase the heart attack or stroke risk. Recent research discovered that adults with diabetes have weaker blood vessels on days with high levels of particles from traffic and coal-burning power plants, which can lead to a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues. Furthermore, studies suggest that air pollution levels can result in higher hospitalization rates and death related to heart problems for people with diabetes.
It is helpful to pay attention to Air Quality Index (AQI) forecasts to determine when air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups. If the AQI is high, it is recommended that you consult your healthcare provider before engaging in any activity. Additionally, suppose you are exposed to smoke from wildfires or other’s cooking fumes in multi-family buildings. In that case, it is advised that you keep your dwelling windows closed and switch your air conditioning to re-circulate mode until the smoke has cleared. To further reduce your exposure to poor air quality, limit your time in traffic and avoid physical activity during poor air quality days.
You can easily see and compare your symptoms to your local AQI using the Best Life mobile app. Check it out.
Keep smoke out of indoor spaces since it can impact your body’s ability to regulate just like poor air quality outdoors can.
It is important to avoid tobacco smoke for your health and the health of those around you. Whenever possible, request that smokers step outside to enjoy their habit. Also, try to frequent smoke-free restaurants, bars, and other public spaces. Additionally, make sure that wood-burning stoves and fireplaces are adequately ventilated.
Use caution when working indoors for the same reasons that air quality impacts your health.
If you paint indoors, ensure that windows and doors can be left open and use fans to ventilate the area. Additionally, take regular breaks to get fresh air, and avoid painted rooms for several days. Furthermore, if your home was built before 1978, it is essential to prevent lead paint exposure. Do not use a belt sander, propane torch, heat gun, dry scraper, or dry sandpaper to remove lead-based paint, as these can produce dangerous amounts of lead dust and fumes.
Protect yourself during periods of extreme heat.
If you have diabetes, it is vital to take extra precautions during periods of extreme heat. Exposure to temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit can be hazardous when humidity is high, as it makes it more difficult for the body to regulate its temperature. Avoiding extreme temperatures is the best way to protect against heat-related illness and death, and air-conditioning is one of the best ways to do this.
To stay cool in extreme heat, use your air-conditioner or visit air-conditioned buildings in your community. Take a cool shower or bath, and wear lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing. Ask your doctor or nurse if your medications increase your risk of heat-related illness. Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid beverages with caffeine or alcohol, as these can cause dehydration and raise your carbohydrate intake. If your doctor has restricted your fluid intake, ask how much you should drink during extreme heat events.
By taking these steps, people can help lower their risk of being even more impacted by diabetes and lead healthier lives.
Who we are
The Live Learn Innovate Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit entity that empowers software users to regain control of their personally generated health data, gain intuitive insights about their social data, learn the impact of their environment on health, and build a foundation of data analytics that empowers research, academics, and innovation in economic development.
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