Because it’s the holiday season, some people are, undoubtedly, contemplating their relationships — or lack thereof — in life. While it is healthy to disconnect from negative people who don’t support or respect you, there can be adverse repercussions to not having very many friends or family members.
In fact, a new study, published in BMC Public Health, suggests there is a relationship between social isolation and the development of type 2 diabetes. Considering we, as a species, are more disconnected than ever, this is research worth paying attention to.
To begin with, there are actually two types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes is a lifelong autoimmune disease that tends to develop in childhood. Type 2 diabetes refers to the body’s growing resistance to insulin; adults typically develop type 2 diabetes but now, young kids are also being diagnosed with the affliction.
Though both types of diabetes aren’t entirely understood, there is a direct correlation between developing type 2 diabetes and eating high-sugar, high-fat, nutrient-devoid foods (which spike blood sugar and eventually create insulin resistance). Of course, genetics play a role — but only a small extent. Now, based on this latest research, it would seem isolation also plays a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.
For the study, researchers at Maastricht University Medical Centre, based in the Netherlands, used existing studies database of individuals who have type 2 diabetes. They used the data to determine exactly what features of isolation are likely to be linked with the condition.
In total, 2,861 subjects between the ages of 40 and 75 — one-third of which were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes previously or as part of the study — participated in a questionnaire. From the survey, the researchers learned a range of details, including their friend network’s size, their frequency of contact, and how far away they lived from others. It turns out, having a smaller group of friends or contacts was highly associated with a new or previous diagnosis of the aforementioned affliction for both men and women.
The researchers concluded that the proximity of friends, family and acquaintances made the difference for women. Being around people with whom they can converse reduces the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. For men, living alone seems to increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. Hence, why men who had housemates had the lowest risk
“Our findings support the idea that resolving social isolation may help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes,” said Stephanie Brinkhues from Maastricht University, the lead author.
More research is needed, clearly. But what this latest study could suggest is that familial and friendly relationships are far more important than our society presently believes. In fact, the disintegration of the modern family is likely contributing to the exacerbation of many mental, physical and emotional afflictions. However, it will likely be some time before this can be confirmed so as of now, the only thing to do is prioritize those people who are in your life — and be grateful.
What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!
Source: Science Alert
Image Credit: Copyright: bialasiewicz / 123RF Stock Photo