Is Diabetes Genetic? (The Answer May Surprise You)

Does diabetes run in your family? Are you worried that, like a winter cold, you’ll wake up with it? Or that your body is on a timer and it’s just a matter of time before you have it?

Not so fast. Getting diabetes isn’t that simple.

Here is why family history of diabetes does not guarantee you’ll get it.

What is diabetes and why should you care?

Simply put, diabetes is the inability of your body to clear sugar (glucose) from your blood. 

If sugar hangs around in your blood instead of going to your cells, it starts to cause damage throughout your body. Imagine thousands of sugary, crystallized blood cells floating around all of your veins, slowly tearing them apart. This is why uncontrolled diabetes can lead to poor circulation, kidney disease, liver disease, blindness, and foot amputations.

If all of that glucose is staying in your blood, it’s not going to the cells that need it. This can cause lack of energy, lack of focus, increased hunger because your cells need fuel, and increased thirst because your body is trying to dilute your blood that now looks more like syrup.

Overall, consistent high blood sugar is not something you want to mess with.

“But everyone in my immediate family has diabetes. Doesn’t that mean it’s in my genes?”

Maybe, but it doesn’t really matter.

Diabetes is genetic…kind of.

While diabetes is a gene that can be passed from parents to children, just like hair color and the shape of your body, it doesn’t automatically show up in your life just because it’s in your genes.

About 98% of our genes are dormant. That’s right. Everything that makes up your functioning body at this moment is only 2% of the information stored in your cells.

On top of that, 90% of our genes react to our environment, AND disease-related genes are recessive. That means they’re just sitting there sound asleep until something in the environment hits the “on” switch.

Why does this matter? Why should this excite you? Because you are not destined to get a disease. You are not a victim of your family’s health history. You can pretty much decide which genes get turned on or off by the daily decisions you make.

You have total control over your health. The information is out there. The support is waiting for you. You just have to go after it. The hardest part is getting started.

How can you prevent your diabetes genes from turning on?

Start by making SAFE decisions every day that can save you from the myriad of diseases sitting dormant in your genes. You know the phrase “never wake a sleeping giant”? Well I’m telling you to not wake your sleeping diseases.

What are SAFE decisions?

S – stress: get rid of it!

A – activity: get more of it!

F – food & drink: if it ain’t from nature, it ain’t for your body

E – environment: set yourself up for success

Before you get overwhelmed with all of the changes that need to happen in your life, take a day to digest information.

From the time you wake up tomorrow until the time you go to sleep, ask yourself:

  • What makes you stressed?
  • When are you active?
  • What do you eat?
  • Is your environment helpful?

Then choose one area to focus on and master it before you move on to the next. If you work on this consistently, you will be amazed at how many new habits you can create in a few months.


To learn more about creating lasting healthy habits, read here.

Happy Healthing!

– Jenna Lee, RD