There are a host of conditions linked with sleep apnea, including high blood pressure, heart problems, metabolic syndrome, and liver problems. Another concern to consider is the link between sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes. According to the Mayo Clinic, people with sleep apnea are more likely to develop insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes compared with people without the sleep disorder.1 While there are many things that can make you predisposed to type 2 diabetes that you can’t change (like your age, race, gender and family history), there are a few things you can do to lower your risk of developing the disease.
Weight and Physical Activity
If you’re predisposed to developing type 2 diabetes because of sleep apnea, it might be time to take a closer look at your eating and exercise habits. Luckily, pairing a healthy diet and moderate exercise together can help you reach your fitness goals. Think about the areas in your life: home, workplace and neighborhood. Identify any obstacles you may encounter and brainstorm ways to combat them if/when they present themselves. Being more active doesn’t necessarily mean joining an expensive gym, either. There are plenty of (free) things to do at home, such as walking, yard work, and stretching.
Smoking and Eating Habits
According to the CDC, people who smoke cigarettes have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.2 If you’re a person who smokes, this may sound like a broken record, but it’s in your best interests to quit as soon as possible. There are many national programs that give counseling, free or discounted cessation products, and tips and tricks to fight cravings. Smokefree.gov ( http://smokefree.gov), for example, provides free, accurate, evidence-based information and professional assistance to help support the immediate and long-term needs of people trying to quit smoking.3
The American Diabetes Association has a list of 10 “diabetes superfoods” that they suggest incorporating info your diet. These include beans, dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit, sweet potatoes, berries, tomatoes, fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, nuts, and fat-free milk and yogurt. The superfoods all have a low glycemic index (a ranking of carbohydrate-containing foods, based on the food's effect on blood glucose compared with a standard reference food) and will give you important nutrients, like calcium, potassium and fiber.4
Here’s the good news: if you’re already working toward weight loss, increased physical activity, and reducing/eliminating your cigarette habit, you’re lowering your cholesterol in the process. To further aid your cholesterol-lowering efforts, talk to your doctor about prescription medications that might be a good match for your goals.
If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you’re probably already on high-alert for other associated diseases. Shameless plug – the Transcend® miniCPAP™ is an excellent method of treating your sleep apnea, which lowers your risk of the linked conditions (including type 2 diabetes). Make sure to watch for the signs of type 2 diabetes, make changes to your habits if necessary, and try to live a healthy life.
1Mayo Clinic Staff. "Diseases and Conditions: Sleep Apnea." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 25 Aug. 2015. Web. 04 Feb. 2016.