In the United States, over 84 million people have prediabetes and 30 million Americans have some form of diabetes. Diabetes is a disorder of the human metabolism that affects the production and use of insulin. Produced by the pancreas, insulin, is a hormone that transports consumed sugar to the cells to be converted into energy. A person is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when his or her body doesn’t create enough insulin to transport the sugar. Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed when the body develops an insulin resistance, inhibiting the body from converting the sugar into energy. Diabetic patients often have high blood sugar levels which can alert doctors to the condition and prompt a diagnosis.
A person with diabetes is at risk for many other serious health complications. Diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness, due to a series of eye conditions caused by diabetes called diabetic retinopathy. Because high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels, poor diabetes management can also result in heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
While the disease itself can bring about many complications, medications used to treat diabetes can also have negative impacts. Most medications come with some risk of side effects, and diabetes medications are no different. However, some medications prescribed to treat diabetes have resulted in major health complications such as ketoacidosis, need for lower-limb amputations, and rare genital infections.
All of these reasons are why it is important to avoid a diabetes diagnosis. Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to help prevent it.
- Workout Regularly
Doctors recommend including an exercise regimen in your daily routine as a preventative measure. By working out for 30 minutes every day, five days a week– you can increase the insulin sensitivity of your cells. As a result, your body will need less insulin to keep blood sugar under control. Here are a few suggested workouts to help with this:
- Aerobic exercises such as jogging or cycling
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Strength training such as weight lifting
- Quit Smoking
Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Smoking can increase the risk of diabetes by up to 61% in people who smoke heavily – roughly more than 20 cigarettes a day. Smoking can also increase your chances of developing many other serious health complications such as cancer and other diseases.
- Diet Change
There is evidence to suggest that changing your diet and losing five to ten percent of your total body weight can prevent diabetes. By eating a low-fat, nutrient-rich diet (or a plant-based diet) that includes whole grain cereals and breads, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, a person’s risk of the disease decreases. This diet will also reduce the risk of weight gain which is another major cause of type 2 diabetes.
- Portion Control
Along with a diet change, it is recommended to keep meal portions smaller, especially for those who are overweight. Eating too much food at once has shown to increase blood sugar levels, so by decreasing the amount of food you eat in one sitting, you can avoid this spike.
- Get Active
Living a sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of developing diabetes significantly. Sitting for an excessive amount of time regularly as well as not engaging in physical activity are examples of sedentary behaviors that have been shown to increase the risk of diabetes. Walking around every hour, or investing in a standing desk can help limit this risk and prevent diabetes.
If you think that you are at risk of developing diabetes, making these few lifestyle changes can go along way towards prevention. Talk to your doctor today about your risk of diabetes and get answers to your questions surrounding the disease.