According to CDC 2014 statistics almost 30 million American have diabetes. This is nearly 10% of the population. This disease isn’t often fatal when properly treated by a doctor and when lifestyle changes are made. However, having diabetes can make everyday life more difficult by preventing people from doing what they would like to do. Diabetics deal with insulin injections, food restrictions or various health issues, like glaucoma.
Although there is a chance of an otherwise healthy person getting diabetes due to genetics (type 1), gestational diabetes during pregnancy or other uncontrollable factors, this disease is for the most part preventable. It really all comes down to getting yourself as healthy as possible and making the lifestyle choices that are right for you.
Oh, we are talking about prediabetes too.
“Together, the American Diabetes Association, the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Ad Council have launched the first national public service advertising (PSA) campaign to raise awareness about pre diabetes….
‘Eighty-six million people have prediabetes and only 10 percent know they have it,’ CDC Diabetes Translation Director Ann Albright told CBS News. That’s more than one in three Americans, she added. ‘No one is excused from pre diabetes.'” Source: CBS News – Jan 2016
Here are 5 ways you can greatly reduce your risk of diabetes.
- Get Down to a Healthy Weight That is Right for You
Being overweight weakens your body, specifically your organs, and can make you more susceptible to disease and illness. Diabetes is no exception. There is a strong correlation between weight and diabetes, particularly type 2, in terms of risk factors. Although there are some diabetics who outwardly look very healthy and are at an ideal weight, the majority of type 2 diabetics are overweight or obese.
If you are overweight, you need to know the risk factors for diabetes and do what you can to avoid it. Losing weight could be a step in the right direction. This can be done via diet and exercise as you’ll see next, but if you have a significant amount of weight to lose you need to consult a doctor to learn more about your options. Seeing a nutritionist or dietician could also be helpful. Depending on the severity of your case your doctor, may recommend surgery or a medication to aid weight loss. Here are some helpful tips from the American Diabetes Association.
- Be Active as Much as Possible
The average American adult leads a fairly sedentary lifestyle. According to various studies the average person spends anywhere from 7 to nearly 15 hours a day sitting, laying or otherwise not standing or active. There are numerous health conditions for which sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor, many of which may increase your risk of diabetes on their own.
You must increase your daily activity if you want to be as healthy as possible in the long run. If you have a break at work, get up and walk rather than sitting and checking Facebook. Consider walking for an extra 10-15 min during a break at home or at work. At home, get up do some quick jumping jacks during commercial breaks or set up your treadmill so you can walk or run while watching your favorite program. Make regular walks a habit and set up weekend activities like hikes or going swimming. You don’t have to train for a marathon or become a Zumba instructor, just get the body moving for an extra 10-20 minutes daily. That’s a great start.
- Change Your Diet to Clean Eating
A common myth debunked by the American Diabetes Association is that diabetics require special diets. In reality, people are so accustomed to unhealthy diets in today’s world that many consider health diet recommendations for diabetics to be “specialized”. Diet is so important to overall health and some health authorities agree that 80% of your health is diet whereas exercise is only 20%. Those percentages can be debated, but we all know that what we eat matters to our health.
There are many diets that all promise you glowing health quickly or X number of pounds lost in X numbers of weeks. It is best to avoid these types of diets and first focus on eating well in general. This means eating clean – focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods as the bulk of your diet. Avoid processed foods as much as possible, but you can indulge with moderation. The key is that you have to really keep track of what you are eating in terms of calories and nutrients. Don’t just feed yourself blindly, have goals and intentions for your meals so that you know that you are giving your body the right mix of food that works for you. Eat a lot of vegetables and fruits (limit the fruit if you already have blood sugar issues), try to eat lean protein and limit your consumption of unhealthy fats, dyes and chemical additives. Keeping a food diary and using an online food tracking app is a great way to get started.
- Stop Smoking
This bad habit doesn’t just yellow teeth and damage lungs but also increases your risk of diabetes. According to the Cleveland Clinic those who smoke around a pack to half a pack per day increase their risk of diabetes by 3x. Other studies show that smoking exacerbates symptoms of those who are already diabetic.
Stopping this habit can be extremely difficult for some people. Trying to just go cold turkey without any support of others often ends in a relapse and possibly smoking more than ever. Consult your doctor for help, especially if you are a frequent smoking with this habit spanning many years. It’s a hard habit to beat, but it can be done.
- Practice Daily Stress Management
Stress isn’t just tiring or annoying, it can severely affect your health. Constant stress can cause chronic migraines, body fatigue, digestive upset, insomnia, depression, high blood pressure and more. Studies are also bringing to light that chronic stress also increase the risk of diabetes by as much as 45%!
You may not be able to prevent stress but there are ways you can manage it. You can take up yoga, make time for prayer, practice meditation, keep a journal of your feeling or even speak with a therapist to help you. If you lead a fairly stressful life or work a job that really gets on your nerves, consider changing your lifestyle completely if you can. Make a plan and work to create a more peaceful life.
None of these suggestions can totally eliminate the risk of getting diabetes. If you have a family history of diabetes or suspect you are showing symptoms, it is important to see your doctor for testing and to develop a health plan. It is always a good idea to consult your physician if you are making significant changes in your health, especially if you already have underlying health conditions.