How to Prevent Diabetes Risk: High-Altitude Living Could Be the Answer

How to Prevent Diabetes Risk: High-Altitude Living Could Be the Answer

Diabetes is a harsh reality in today’s time with more and more young people falling prey to it. But the kind of lifestyles we lead, you can’t really blame anyone else but yourself. All those fried snacks, binging on junk food and colas, weekend drinking sprees, over working, reducing sleep time, no physical activity… all these habits are sure to have consequences on your health in some point of time, if not now. How we live at present is what will contribute to our well-being in the days to come.

India is known as the diabetes capital of the world. It is a major disease that is affecting the population today, with every 1 in 5 people being diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Studies have shown that not only is a significant proportion of our population predisposed to diabetes, but on an average, diabetes in Indians sets in at least 10-15 years prior compared to individuals of most other countries. A lot of factors are responsible for the onset of the disease, some perhaps not taken into consideration as often as others. Maybe the place you stay in isn’t the best for your health.


According to a research done as part of a PhD thesis at University of Navarra, Spain, it stated that something as simple as the geographic area in which you live contribute to your risk of developing heart diseases, strokes and diabetes. People who reside in higher altitudes were found to have lesser risks of developing these diseases.


“We found that those people living between 457 to 2,297 metres, had a lower risk of developing Metabolic Syndrome than those living at sea level (zero to 121 metres),” said Amaya Lopez-Pascual, who conducted this research.


The Environment’s Role in Metabolic Syndrome


Metabolic syndrome is the medical term for the combination of high blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol levels, as well as excess body fat around the waist, and contributes to serious health problems. While the reported increase in the metabolic syndrome is principally blamed on higher obesity rates, smoking and increasingly inactive lifestyles, less is known about the effect our environment may have on us.


“Living or training at high altitudes or under a simulated hypoxic (oxygen deficient) environment seems to help with heart and lung function, losing weight, and improves insulin sensitivity,” co-senior author of this study Pedro Gonzalez-Muniesa, Associate Professor at University of Navarra, noted.


The researchers used data from a Spanish project, where participants have been voluntarily submitting information about their health twice-yearly since 1999. Information from thousands of initially healthy participants were used to investigate the development of metabolic syndrome in relation to the altitude of where they lived.


The results, published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, were quite clear – the higher the altitude, the less likely you were of developing metabolic syndrome. Interestingly, using information about the participants’ family history, the researchers could also assess if those more prone to this health problem also saw these benefits.


“We found our results were independent of the genetic background of the individuals,” Gonzalez-Muniesa noted.


So if you were planning on buying a small little house at the top of a mountain, maybe it’s the right time to make it a reality. Moreover, imagine what all that fresh air could do for your health!

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