It’s not just donuts that can put you at risk: High stress levels may cause type 2 diabetes, research suggests.
Psychologists interviewed more than 1.5 million Swedish men to see how well they coped with stress. The men were then tracked for 25 years to see if they developed diabetes.
The guys with poor stress management were 1.5 times more likely to get the disease than those who were more resilient.
Chronic stress screws with your body’s ability to regulate your blood sugar, says study author Casey Crump, M.D., Ph.D. That’s because high levels of cortisol, the hormone that plays a part in your fight or flight response, trigger high blood sugar. So when you’re in a constant state of anxiety, your body can’t bring your blood sugar back down to normal levels.
Bad habits may also play a role, says Dr. Crump.
“People who are stressed are more likely to eat unhealthy foods and have lower physical activity levels,” he says. “Those behaviors contribute to weight gain, which can also cause insulin resistance.”
Of course, you probably can’t quit your high-pressure job and move to Fiji. But if you manage daily demands better, you can trick your body into thinking you did.
Related: 19 Ways to Live a Stress-Free Life
Schedule one relaxing activity into each busy day, even if it’s just a 15-minute walk, says Adelaide Fortmann, Ph.D., the manager of diabetes care research at the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute. You’ll bring your cortisol levels down, and your blood sugar with it.