Every year 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes, a condition that results from too much sugar in the blood. When left untreated or poorly managed, diabetes can lead to serious health problems including blindness, kidney failure, and nerve and blood vessel damage that could lead to loss of toes or feet. It’s also the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the condition, which causes your body to not process insulin properly. Insulin resistance means your pancreas makes extra insulin, but eventually it isn’t able to make enough to keep your blood sugar at normal levels.
Decrease Your Risk
The link is clear – about 90% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. Getting to a healthy weight is the critical first step to fighting or even reversing this disease. And the good news is that you can live a normal, healthy life if you do what it takes to control your blood sugar. When your blood sugar stays in check – within the ideal range – it minimizes, delays or even prevents problems that diabetes can cause.
Ready to decrease your risk of diabetes? Here a few simple tips:
Prioritize exercise. Making moving a ‘must-do’ is the easiest way to lower your risk of diabetes. The American Diabetes Association suggests you get moving at least five days a week for 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise. That’s a total of 150 minutes. Moderate intensity is more than just a quick walk around the block – it means you can talk, but not sing, through your workout or activity. Sounds overwhelming? Start with 10 minutes and build up by five or 10 minutes each week.
Pick healthy foods. Foods that digest quickly like white bread, rice or sugary snacks cause your blood sugar to spike in a short period of time. Instead, choose foods low in fat and high in other nutrients – like fruits, vegetables, dairy products, whole grain breads and lean proteins. These foods help insulin do its job and remove sugar out of the blood vessels.
Get your doctor involved. Diabetes is something to take seriously. It’s important for everyone to be aware of their blood sugar levels, and the simple blood test for diabetes is usually covered by insurance. If you’re concerned about your weight or your risk for developing diabetes, your doctor probably is too. The sooner you know about a pre-diabetes or diabetes diagnosis, the sooner you can make lifestyle changes that can reverse the condition in its early stages and improve your health overall. Your doctor, a registered dietician or diabetes educator can answer your questions. They can also help you set realistic weight loss goals (if needed) and show you ways to get to your healthy weight – and stay there.
If you don’t have a primary care physician, find a physician near you.