Diabetes is a disease where the amount of sugar in the blood (glucose) is too high because the body can’t take care of it properly. Even though some people are born with it (type 1 diabetes), in many cases diabetes happens—specifically, type 2 diabetes—because people have a family history of it and/or don’t take care of themselves properly.
Some risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include:
- Being a certain ethnicity (i.e., African American, Hispanic, Asian American or American Indian)
- Excess weight
- Family history of diabetes
- Getting older
- High blood pressure
- Lack of exercise and activity
If left untreated, diabetes can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, kidney damage and eye damage. Damaged nerves, skin problems and even Alzheimer’s disease have been connected to diabetes as well.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 30 million Americans live with the effects of diabetes. Among them are about 623,041 adults in Maryland, 156,000 of which are likely to have diabetes but don’t know it.
If you are worried that you are one of those at risk for getting type 2 diabetes, there is hope through prevention. Take a look at some tips for avoiding diabetes and living a happy, healthy life.
It’s well known that exercise is good for you, but did you know it can help keep type 2 diabetes at bay? By exercising a few times a week, you can:
- Lose weight
- Lower your blood sugar levels
- Naturally booster your body’s sensitivity to insulin (hormone that helps control blood sugar)
You can also do things that will help you move a little more than usual each day, such as:
- Getting off at one bus stop before your usual stop and walking from there
- March in place while watching TV
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
Eat Plenty of Fiber
Fiber is the part of plants that is tough for your body to digest (but is still good for you). By having a diet with a lot of fiber (e.g., fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, etc.) you can:
- Improve your blood sugar levels
- Lower your risk of getting heart disease
- Feel fuller, leading you to eat less and lose weight
Rethink How You Cook
Changing how you buy and cook your food can also help keep the weight off and type 2 diabetes away. Ideas to consider include:
- Choosing foods that are lower in trans fats, saturated fats fats, cholesterol, salt, calories and added sugars
- Baking or broiling meat instead of frying it
- Buying frozen veggies instead of canned veggies (which are full of sodium)
- Choosing brown rice over white rice
- Cooking with less oil and butter
- Cooking with spices instead of salt
- Using smaller amounts of smoked meats (e.g., bacon) in your meals to cut how much salt you eat
Be Aware of the Size of Your Meal
Portion size is key to keeping yourself in shape and within a good weight range. Use smaller utensils—such as teaspoons and child-sized or salad forks—to take smaller bites and small plates to keep your food on.
Also, be sure to drink a large glass of water about 10 minutes before a meal to help you feel fuller faster when you eat.
Cut out all of the sugar-filled beverages (juice, soda, sports drinks, sweetened tea etc.) and stick to water when you’re thirsty. You will lose weight and reduce your chances of getting type 2 diabetes.
Some studies suggest that there is a link between lack of sleep and poor quality of sleep with type 2 diabetes. Be sure to get seven to eight hours of deep sleep by avoiding excess stimulation—such as T.V. and cell phone use—at least an hour before bedtime. If you have problems going to sleep or staying asleep, speak to your doctor about what you can do.
If you’re ready to lessen your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, contact us to see if you qualify for our Diabetes Prevention Program. It will provide you the tools and resources you need to avoid becoming diabetic at no cost to you.
For more information or to see if you qualify for this quality program, contact one of our representatives today.