Do you have a history of diabetes in your family?
Have you ever been diagnosed with gestational diabetes?
Is your weight constantly creeping up?
Are you physically active?
All of these add up to putting you at risk for type 2 diabetes. In fact, 9 out of 10 Americans are at risk and don’t even know it. According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2012, 29.1 million (or 9.3% of the population) Americans had diabetes, with type 2 diabetes being the most common form. Add another 86 million Americans 20 and over who had pre-diabetes. This is an epidemic.
When your body develops insulin resistance your insulin does not work well and is unable to deliver the glucose circulating in your blood into the cells that need it. Your blood sugar levels become elevated and you are diagnosed with diabetes. Too much glucose in your blood results in damage to the arteries in your heart, kidneys, and eyes resulting in heart attacks, end stage renal disease and blindness. It can also result in damage to the nerves in the hands and feet which results in pain and reduced function.
Are you at risk? Find out in 60 seconds with this test. Though this is not a replacement for a doctor’s visit, it can give you a gauge on whether you need to make an appointment with your health care provider.
Luckily, preventing type 2 diabetes is under your control. Small changes can have a big impact on your health. Are you ready to start today?
- Maintain a healthy weight: Overweight people aren’t automatically going to become diabetic, but they are more at-risk because of the amounts and types of food they eat and lack of physical activity. Skip the fad diets and develop a healthy lifestyle and maintain a healthy weight.
- Get exercise: Maintaining a healthy weight by eating smart isn’t enough. Exercise is the magic antidote to lower your blood sugar. Both aerobic and anaerobic exercises can help keep your glucose levels under control. Keep moving and find ways to work exercise in your daily schedule.
- Boost Your Fiber, Boost Your Health: Increase natural fibers, roughage, in your diet by adding servings of vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains. When buying canned or boxed foods, look to see that the fibers are intact fibers. There are many added, artificial fibers called functional and isolated fibers (Malodextrin, Chicory Root, Polydextrose, Oat Fiber, Resistance Starch, Pectin and Gum). Though the jury is out on whether artificial fibers are as effective as natural, they are usually found in highly processed foods, so eating them also means increasing sugars and salt in your diet. Nevertheless, according to the Mayo Clinic a high fiber diet will “improve blood sugar control, lower risk of heart disease, promote weight loss by helping you feel full.”
- Set Health Goals You Can Reach: There’s a key to keep goals, especially lifestyle-changing goals, manageable – be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Agreed-Upon, Reasonable, Time-Based). Instead of saying, “I will walk more.” Write, “I will walk twenty minutes each day.” Set a timer and do it. Because a set number is easier to achieve than a vague “more.” Set weekly, monthly goals about everything from adding fiber to your diet (two more portions of fruit each day) to exercise habits. And see the difference!
We have more control over our health than we give ourselves credit for. Our bodies are amazing machines. Making small changes in our lifestyles can have big payoffs later on: playing with our kids in the park and watching them grow; dancing with our daughters at their weddings; traveling to Asia. Not to mention saving thousands of dollars on medication and tests.