Diabetes is America’s ‘other epidemic’. It might be easy to overlook as the surge in coronavirus infections takes up headlines around the country, but chronic diabetes currently affects more than 34 million Americans. Approximately one in three people in the United States currently have prediabetes.
Shocking as these statistics may look, they also show great potential. Prediabetes can be controlled and – in some cases – even reversed with the help of simple lifestyle changes. Before we share out five top tips for diabetes prevention, here is a quick recap.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes affects the body’s ability to break down sugars and transform them into fuel for the cells. Instead, the sugar we absorb with our food remains in the person’s bloodstream and leads to high blood sugar levels. Over time, these affect almost every organ.
There are two types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes is common in children and young people and is caused by genetics. In this case, the pancreas does not produce enough of the hormone insulin which is responsible for controlling blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes means the body cannot use the insulin in produces efficiently. This type is related to an unhealthy lifestyle and is generally developed later in life.
Prediabetes means that a patient’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. This is when lifestyle changes are most effective.
1. Control Your Weight
Being overweight or obese is one of the biggest risk factors for developing diabetes later in life. It is also a very common health problem in America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that more than four in ten Americans are currently considered obese, with more than two-thirds considered either overweight or obese.
Those adults are not only at a higher risk for developing diabetes, but also heart disease, and certain types of cancer. If your weight is more than ideal at the moment, consider making gradual changes to control it or plan on losing some weight. Even losing 7% of your body weight can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by nearly 60%.
2. Get Moving
Regular exercise has numerous health benefits. Lowering blood sugar and potentially reversing prediabetes is only one of them. Exercise can also help with weight loss and weight control. When it comes to preventing diabetes, exercise is doubly effective: it lowers blood sugar and increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
Becoming more active can feel taxing, especially for those who have not exercised in a long time. However, even 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, done five times per week will have a positive effect.
Biking, swimming, or running are equally effective, especially if combined with some resistance training to increase strength. Those with sedentary jobs can improve their blood sugar levels with short, active breaks. Standing up every 30 minutes and briefly walking are great ways of incorporating activity into a daily routine.
3. Change Your Diet
Changing your diet to reverse prediabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes is based on what foods you eat and how much of them. For the highest impact, it is important to make gradual changes you are likely to maintain in the long term.
Limiting sugar and saturated fats is a cornerstone of a healthy diet.
Choose a variety of foods including fiber-rich foods such as fruits, non-starchy vegetables, and legumes. Try replacing white pasta and bread with whole-grain alternatives.
Fatty foods are usually high in calories. Eating them in moderation is as important as replacing saturated fats with healthier alternatives such as fatty fish or nuts and seeds.
It is worth reviewing not only what you eat but also what you drink. Many of our favorite soft drinks contain surprisingly high amounts of sugar. Choosing low-sugar or no-sugar options or water will help you lose weight and reduce your risk of diabetes.
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4. Quit Smoking
According to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States.
Smokers are up to 40% more likely to develop diabetes, compared to nonsmokers. Not only can smoking increase the body’s insulin resistance, but it also predisposes diabetes patients to suffer from further complications.
Anyone already diagnosed with prediabetes should therefore consider stopping smoking as soon as possible to allow their body to use the insulin produced by the pancreas efficiently.
5. Get Tested
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic illness. There is no cure, and managing the illness takes commitment and dedication.
Most diabetes patients will at some point in their life also suffer from serious diabetes complications.
With the TrueCare Diabetes Screening Program organizations can easily screen their people for diabetes and their risks for developing pre-diabetes.
The program provides individual recommendations to improve their peoples’ health, and helps executive realize healthcare cost savings.
Screen your team and help prevent diabetes!
- Improve Your Team’s Health with the Diabetes Screening Program
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- Can Diabetes Be Cured?
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- How to Prevent Diabetes
- Diabetes prevention: 5 tips for taking control
- A Risk Factor for Type 2 Diabetes