Common Causes of Prediabetes in Older Adults

Common Causes of Prediabetes in Older Adults

Older people are extremely vulnerable. Even if they were always healthy and have no bad habits, their blood glucose levels gradually increase with age. Studies show that almost every tenth elderly person develops prediabetes in some form or other.

In medicine, this condition is called “low glucose tolerance.” Translated into simple language, this means that the cells of many organs no longer feel glucose normally and, therefore, are unable to produce enough energy in your body. As a result, carbohydrate accumulates in the blood.

The concentration of sugar in the blood is still not as high as with “real” diabetes. It does not lead to blindness or disruption of the heart, blood vessels, nervous system. However, prediabetes easily turns into type II diabetes. It may happen within 2-5 years.

There are several reasons for prediabetes in the elderly. The basis of this condition can be age-related tissue changes including:

atrophy of muscles that must expend energy;
a decrease in the volume of those sections of the pancreas where insulin is produced;
reduced activity of the genes responsible for insulin synthesis.

The condition is also typical for people without excess weight.
Other causes include reduced production of essential hormones in the body. They are formed in the intestines after a meal and “remind” the pancreas that it must produce insulin.

When a person eats food with carbohydrates, their body tends to
produce a large amount of insulin, which increases immediately after a meal and lasts about 10 minutes. This is the first phase of the secretion of this hormone. It helps reduce elevated glucose levels to more acceptable numbers.

The second phase includes the gradual flow of insulin into the blood. It lasts for 1 or 2 hours.

With age, your body loses its capability to produce an adequate amount of insulin. So, even though the first phase of insulin secretion may not be disturbed, the second, however, is likely to suffer.

In addition to age-related changes, other causes of prediabetes in older people are:

eating excess trans fat (margarine, mayonnaise, spreads);
love for simple carbohydrates (muffins, sweets);
inadequate intake of dietary fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates;
chronic diseases of the digestive organs, especially chronic pancreatitis;
medications: psychotropic, diuretic, heart (non-selective beta-blockers), steroid (hormones like “Prednisolone”).

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