The connection between hormones and diabetes

By Dr. Marissa Magsino, BodyLogicMD of Orlando

Diabetes is a very complex medical issue. It starts as a metabolic syndrome that is a combination of nutritional and hormonal imbalances. It’s important to correct these imbalances at an early stage, before pre-diabetes develops into full-fledge diabetes.

Diabetes is among the most serious illnesses in America — I would even go so far as to say it is the number one medical illness. It is becoming increasingly common and, with the current trends in obesity (which increases your risk of diabetes), it is developing much more often in younger people than ever before. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), 25.8 million people in the United States have diabetes — that’s 8.3% of the population — and, in 2010, 1.9 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people 20 years old and older.

Diabetes can lead to a number of other medical conditions — and even make them worse. This comorbidity of diabetes and other conditions has an extremely high impact on healthcare in America. It can lead to many complications and can impact your cardiovascular health, nervous system, mental health and more. It can even lead to congestive heart failure, heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and, if you have diabetes, you have 2 to 4 times the risk of dying from heart disease as someone who does not have diabetes. Stats from the ADA paint a clear picture: diabetes contributed to 231,404 deaths in the year 2007 alone.

The Hormone Link

Diabetes actually is, in a sense, a consequence of hormonal imbalance. It all starts with imbalances in the hormone insulin that lead to glucose intolerance. Glucose is created from the sugars and starches in the food you eat and insulin converts it into energy. However, when you have diabetes, your body either does not produce enough insulin or the insulin that your body does produce cannot do its job — this is known as insulin resistance. When this happens, the glucose levels in your blood elevate, leading to the many symptoms and complications of diabetes.

All of your hormones work together and affect each other, so imbalances of other hormones can lead to insulin imbalances or insulin resistance. This may be particularly evident around menopause. During perimenopause, your progesterone levels decline. This decline in progesterone affects your insulin metabolism and, as your progesterone levels become low, you develop a predisposition to glucose intolerance.

High levels of cortisol, which is produced by your adrenal glands in response to stress, can also lead to glucose intolerance. In fact, this can lead to an unhealthy cycle, because diabetes can affect your adrenals, causing them to produce more cortisol, which in turn can make your diabetes worse.

Read the full article: Diabetes: A Hormonal Matter

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