When we think of diabetes in men, one of the first things that comes to mind is being overweight.
I’m going to give you a hint right up front where this post is headed — insulin and testosterone are both hormones, and as we often tell you, hormones play a powerful role in your overall health.
However, the reverse is also true: Hormone levels are affected by your overall health — it’s a two-way street.
But first, let’s discuss the basics — how does diabetes in men occur and what does it look like?
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes describes an insulin deficit or an insulin resistance in your body.
Basically, it’s when you don’t have enough insulin or your body cannot properly utilize the insulin it produces to transport blood sugar (called glucose) to your cells.
At first, your pancreas (the organ that produces insulin) works overtime to compensate, but it eventually cannot keep up.
As a result, your body begins to exhibit symptoms.
The Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes in Men
This loss of the ability to produce or utilize sufficient insulin results in an unhealthy and often dangerous build up of glucose in your system called hyperglycemia.
Some of the major symptoms of Type 2 diabetes in men described by the American Diabetes Association include the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Breath that smells fruity
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased thirst
- Increased hunger
- Increased urination
- Ketoacidosis (a diabetic coma can result if this condition is left untreated)
There are two primary factors that result in type 2 diabetes in men — genetic disposition and lifestyle choices.
Diabetes in Men — The Role of Genetics
Type 2 diabetes is sometimes hereditary, so you may be more likely to develop this condition if it runs in your family.
Though much research has been done, it remains unclear which genes specifically contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.
The point is that our genes may only increase the chances to develop diabetes, often referred to as predisposition — the condition may never present itself in men who make necessary healthy lifestyle choices.
Diabetes in Men — Lifestyle Choices
Keep in mind that insulin is a hormone, and choices leading to poor physical condition can negatively affect hormone levels and increase the likelihood of diabetes. In men, the following factors can increase the chances of type 2 diabetes, as well as other hormone imbalances:
- Poor diet
- Lack of exercise
- Obesity (Read more about the role of fat tissue in diabetes here.)
However, if you maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly, it may be possible to reverse your diabetes. If your hormone levels are unbalanced, the same regimen may also help to regulate your hormones, though it is unlikely to reverse clinically low hormone levels.
Men With Diabetes — How Are Low T and Diabetes Related?
When we talk about how low testosterone (also called hypogonadism) contributes to diabetes in men, the connection is perhaps less than obvious.
Consider some symptoms of low testosterone that can lead to the negative lifestyle choices I mentioned above — men with low testosterone often suffer from fatigue, anxiety, and mild depression (we often refer to this as low mood).
Simply put, exercise can be hard enough to fit into your hectic daily schedule, but making it to the gym, to the bike trail, or to the running meetup is so much harder when you already don’t feel well.
Anxiety can also lead to poor eating choices at irregular times.
Our daily hindrances, which can be caused or worsened by clinical hypogonadism (low testosterone), may contribute to a lower quality of health and possibly to obesity.
Once testosterone levels begin to drop, you’ll find that your exercise is less impactful and that losing weight and gaining muscle is more difficult, making diabetes that much more likely. Also, diabetes will cause your testosterone levels to fall more rapidly than if your body handled glucose normally.
Are You Suffering from Low Testosterone?
When having trouble maintaining the type of healthy lifestyle that can slow or prevent type 2 diabetes, men should consider low testosterone as a possible factor — click the button below to take our Low T Symptoms Quiz and find out if you might be suffering from low testosterone.