Everyone has heard of Type 1 or Juvenile Diabetes. The diabetes someone gets when they are young through no fault of their own and they usually need insulin shots for the rest of their lives. But many aren’t aware of how rapidly the risk of Type 2 diabetes is growing. Over 23 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes and of those, 7 million don’t even know they have diabetes. Even more surprising is the 79 million Americans with pre-diabetes. It used to be that doctors would warn patients their blood sugar was a little high. Now, doctors tell patients that you have pre-diabetes. This is to warn patients that if they don’t change their habits they are going to get full blown diabetes before too long.
Diabetes brings on its own share of health risks. People with diabetes can have complications leading to eye problems, heart disease, stroke, nerve damage and kidney disease. When people have pre-diabetes or diabetes the insulin produced by the pancreas isn’t working as it should. Their bodies may not use insulin properly to get sugar into cells so the sugar builds up in their blood.
Fortunately, over 90 percent of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by adopting a healthier lifestyle. What can you do to reduce your chances of getting Type 2 diabetes?
- Weight – those who are overweight increase their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Dropping a few pounds reduces this risk. In one study, the Diabetes Prevention Study, those who lost 7% of their body weight such as 14 pounds for a 200 pound person, were able to lower their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by a whopping 58%.
- Healthy Fats – I’ve discussed on this blog the importance of eating healthy fats like a handful of nuts a day or switching to olive oil. The bad fats are saturated fats and trans fats. Both fats are bad for your heart and increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Eating out? Then look over the menus online and choose entrees and foods lower in saturated fats such as choosing grilled vs. fried entrees.
- Sugary Beverages – so many Americans drink soda, Sunny D, Capri Sun, sweetened ice tea, beverages loaded with sugar. This sugar puts a stress on your pancreas to pour out the insulin to handle all the sugar from these beverages. All that added sugar can also lead to weight gain. So look for unsweetened beverages, drink water, unsweetened tea, black coffee or one of the low calorie flavored waters.
- Whole grains – so much healthier than white flour. Whole grains take longer to digest than refined grains because of the fiber. So there is less risk of developing diabetes with whole grains. Try whole grain cereals – oatmeal is an excellent choice. All General Mills cereals are whole grains so it should be easy to find a whole grain cereal you like.
- Exercise – most people hear the word “exercise” and think of the gym. But walking is great exercise. Sit less, move more is another way to think about being more active.
Sources: 5 ways to prevent type 2 diabetes, 5 Steps to Beat Type 2 Diabetes, Environmental Nutrition, January 20123. Image source: Type 2 Diabetes