How to Prevent and Detect Diabetes
The statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health and the American Diabetes Association are concerning, even if you do not have a history of diabetes in your family: 25.8 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes, 7 million are undiagnosed, 79 million are pre-diabetic and 1 out of every 400 children has diabetes!
Although it can be easy to ignore in the early stages, controlling your blood sugar is vital to prevent damage to blood vessels and vital organs. Complications from diabetes include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, neuropathy (nerve damage), amputation of lower limbs, osteoporosis, skin and mouth conditions such as bacterial and fungal infections, hearing impairment and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
There are several risk factors contributing to the alarming rise of Type 2 diabetes in the United States.
- The main reason is being overweight- thisincreases insulin resistance
- Storing fat mainly in your abdomen
- Being sedentary- the less active you are, the greater your risk
- Family history- increased if parent or sibling has Type 2 diabetes
- Certain races are more likely, although the reasons are unclear- Hispanics, American Indians, Asian-Americans, American blacks
- Age used to be a factor after 45 but children and adolescents are quickly catching up
- Women who developed gestational diabetes when they were pregnant or delivered a baby more than 9 lbs
- Smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day can increase your risk to more than 3 times that of a non-smoker
Don’t let fear stop you from visiting your doctor. If you are concerned, make an appointment today. Be mindful that some people have no symptoms and others have some of the following:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme hunger
- Sudden vision changes
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Feeling very tired a good deal of the time
- Very dry skin
- Slow-healing sores
- More infections than usual
To get on a healthy path and prevent diabetes, the most important thing you can do is lose weight or maintain a healthy weight by eating “just right
” portions. Begin by eating less fat, cutting out all trans-fat and saturated fat, increasing fiber by adding whole grains, fruits and vegetables, cutting out or at least cutting down high-sugar foods and eating fewer foods high in salt, especially processed foods such as pickled, canned and packaged. If you stick to whole (from the earth) natural foods in an array of colors, you will be getting the nutrients your body needs.
Add some physical activity to your day, whether it’s walking, gardening, swimming, jumping rope… make it something that you enjoy and will stick with long-term. Change it up with lifting weights, zumba, dance classes or family bike riding. Any exercise will control your weight, blood glucose, and blood pressure, raise your HDL (good cholesterol) and lower your LDL (bad cholesterol).
Don’t become the next diabetic statistic. And if you are a parent, the most important thing you can do is role model. By eating healthy food, your children are more likely to choose wisely. Making exercise a family affair by incorporating fun activities keeps everyone active, lean and diabetes-free!