No one wants type 2 diabetes. It’s a condition that affects your whole body and gets progressively worse, leading to loss of vision and feeling (especially in your feet and fingertips), as well as kidney disease and heart disease. Having high triglycerides makes you more likely to develop it, though. Luckily, with some effort, you have a good chance of lowering your triglycerides -- which, at the same time, lowers your chance of getting diabetes.
The First Sign: Insulin Resistance
High triglycerides don't cause diabetes. Instead, their levels indicate that your system for turning food into energy isn't working properly.
Normally, your body makes insulin, which “escorts” glucose -- the type of sugar in your blood --inside your cells. There, your body turns glucose into energy. Insulin also allows your body to use triglycerides for energy.
A common cause of high triglycerides in your blood is insulin resistance; that’s when your cells won’t let insulin, or its companion glucose, inside your cells. As a result, both glucose and triglycerides build up in your blood.
Your doctor can do a blood test to see if you have insulin resistance. When you do, the insulin level in your blood is too high, and you’re one step closer to type 2 diabetes.
If you also are overweight, eat a lot of sugary and starchy foods, or don’t exercise, your insulin resistance can be worse.
You can reverse your tracks by following the exercise and meal plan your doctor recommends to lower your triglycerides and by taking prescribed medicine.
Second Chance: Prediabetes
If you don’t treat insulin resistance, then over time, glucose will build up in your blood. Your doctor can check your blood sugar (also called glucose) levels, by taking a sample of your blood after you’ve fasted, which means you haven’t eaten for at least 12 hours.
If your glucose levels are high, but not enough to equal diabetes, you could have prediabetes. If you do, you’ve taken another giant step closer to type 2 diabetes. When you have prediabetes (or diabetes), you are also likely to have high triglycerides and cholesterol.
But, it’s not too late to reverse your tracks and reduce your blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol. When you follow your doctor’s guidance about eating, exercising, and taking prescribed medicines, your blood sugars will return to a healthy level. If you don’t choose this path and don’t treat your prediabetes, it can turn into diabetes.
Diabetes: It’s Still Not Too Late
If your blood sugar levels climb to a high enough level, you have diabetes. If you don’t treat it, then over time, high blood sugar levels injure nerves and harm blood vessels, which impairs circulation. The damage can affect your vision, your kidneys, and even your brain cells. Beyond this cascade of problems, diabetes dramatically increases your risk of heart disease, which could lead to a heart attack or stroke. Talk to your doctor about a treatment plan to bring your triglyceride levels and your blood sugar levels down. Your plan is likely to include both medication and lifestyle changes. It’s worth it because your efforts can help reduce complications from diabetes, which can include blindness, bladder problems, and sexual issues.