Can I avoid getting diabetes if I have a family history of diabetes?

Doctor's Answers 1

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Dr Abel Soh


Type 2 diabetes mellitus is the most common type of diabetes. Up to 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.

The risk for someone to develop type 2 diabetes is multi-factorial. Both heredity (genetics) and lifestyle/environmental factors play a role in influencing one's risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

If you have one first-degree relative (parent or sibling) who has type 2 diabetes, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes is increased 2- to 3-fold. 18,19]. Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes is higher (5- to 6-fold) if both your parents have type 2 diabetes.

Although heredity (genetics) is something that we cannot change, lifestyle/environmental risk factors can be modified to reduce your risk of developing diabetes. Lifestyle/environmental factors that increases one's risk of having diabetes include:

  • Unhealthy diet
  • Lack of exercise or physical activity
  • Being overweight or obese

Dietary consumption of red meat, processed meat, and sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, whereas consumption of a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and olive oil is associated with a reduced risk.

A sedentary lifestyle that lacks exercise or physical activity reduces one's energy expenditure, promotes weight gain, and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

If you are overweight or obese, your body cannot use insulin properly (insulin resistance) and your pancreas will work harder to make extra insulin to make up for it. However, over time the pancreas will not be able to keep up and insulin production will drop, resulting in high blood sugar levels.

In order to avoid getting diabetes even if you have family history of diabetes, you should do the following:

  • Eating a healthier diet
  • Exercising regularly - at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise is recommended
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight - body mass index of less than 23 kg/m2

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Why are my eyes getting worse in spite of well controlled diabetes?

Thank you for your question. First of all, congrats on improving your diabetic control! Dropping your Hba1c from 9% to 5. 9% is an amazing conscientious effort on your part. 1. What I could not understand is that, how come my blood sugar was well control (5. 9%) but yet there is a deterioration in my eye condition? With too well controlled sugars, you can certainly get tingling sensations which is related to low blood sugar, or hypoglycaemia. It’s your body’s way of telling you that you need to eat.

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Truth to be told, diabetes cannot be found in ancient TCM literatures. However, a condition called “Xiao Ke” (Wasting-Thirst) was mentioned in the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine written in Han Dynasty (黄帝内经), which has records of the following symptoms: frequent thirst, excessive hunger, sweet-tasting urine, and weight loss. Doesn’t it sound exactly like the diabetes that we know? Therefore, diabetes may be treated under “Xiao Ke” which arises due to a deficiency in body fluids with production of dry heat.

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