Understanding type 2 diabetes: how diet and genetics influence your risk

Understanding type 2 diabetes: how diet and genetics influence your risk

Understanding type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for approximately 90% of cases. It is characterised by chronic high blood sugar levels due to insulin resistance  and relative insulin deficiency¹.

Insulin resistance occurs when the body's cells become resistant to insulin, leading to impaired glucose uptake. Research indicates that diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugars, and saturated fats may contribute to the development of this. Saturated fats, in particular, have been implicated in increasing diabetes risk².

How saturated fats affect your body

One proposed mechanism is the effect of saturated fats on cell membrane composition and function. Studies suggest that higher levels of saturated fats in muscle cells are associated with greater insulin resistance, potentially increasing the risk of T2D. Additionally, fatty acids from saturated fats can alter gene expression and enzyme activities related to diabetes risk³.

The good fats: unsaturated fats

However, not all fats are equal. Unsaturated fats, including polyunsaturated fats, may enhance insulin sensitivity. These fats can be found in plant-based sources like olive oil, nuts, and avocados. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish like sardines and mackerel, play a crucial role in membrane fluidity and insulin receptor function. Research suggests that omega-3 supplementation can decrease insulin levels and improve insulin sensitivity, potentially lowering the risk of T2D⁴.

Balancing diet, lifestyle, and genetics

Understanding the interplay between diet, lifestyle, and genetics is essential in managing T2D risk. Genetic predisposition can influence an individual's susceptibility to the disease.

Personalised recommendations

If you're concerned about your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, consider taking MyHealthChecked's Heart Profile DNA Test. By analysing your genetic profile, this test can provide insights into your predisposition to T2D, empowering you to make informed decisions about your diet and lifestyle to reduce your risk.


  1. Mozaffarian, D., & Willett, W. C. (2007). Trans fatty acids and cardiovascular risk: a unique cardiometabolic imprint?. Current atherosclerosis reports, 9(6), 486-493.
  2. Capurso, C., Capurso, A., & From the Genetics of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes (2019). From the Genetics of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes to Nutrigenomics. Nutrients, 11(2), 1-25.
  3. Cao, H. (2014). Adipocytokines in obesity and metabolic disease. Journal of endocrinology, 220(2), T47-T59.
  4. Pischon, T., Hankinson, S. E., Hotamisligil, G. S., Rifai, N., Willett, W. C., & Rimm, E. B. (2003). Habitual dietary intake of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids in relation to inflammatory markers among US men and women. Circulation, 108(2), 155-160.