Diabetes: not just your grandparents concern.
November is not just known for Turkey Day
November 14 is World Diabetes Day. There are several types of diabetes and for this purpose of this article we will focus on type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes is a health condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy.
Why is it important to bring awareness to this disease? Chances are someone you know has this condition or is at risk for diabetes. According to the US Health and Human Services, one in 10 Americans has diabetes. That’s 30 million folks. What is more concerning is that another 84 million adults are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
This high risk category is called pre-diabetes. Risk factors for diabetes include a family history of diabetes, being overweight or obese, smoking, age (over 45), sedentary lifestyle (not being physically active) and high blood pressure. According to the American Diabetes Association, untreated diabetes can cause eye problems, nerve damage, heart disease, kidney disease and can increase the risk of stroke or heart attack. What is more unsettling is that most people are not even aware that they fall into this group.
What can we do?
As grim as the statistics can be, not all is doom and gloom. Awareness and education are powerful tools to prevent the development and complications of diabetes.
Knowledge is power.
Have your doctor check your blood pressure, weight, cholesterol and blood sugar. If you fall into the pre-diabetes group there any many lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk
Do you smoke?
This would be a great time to stop. In addition to all the other health benefits, quitting smoking decreases the risk of developing diabetes
Are you a couch potato?
There are many simple ways to get up and moving. This can be as simple as standing up from your desk and walking around a few minutes every hour. Do an activity with a friend instead of catching up via text or phone call. Or walk around the block while you’re on the phone with them. Physical activity lowers blood sugar, improves blood pressure and can assist with weight loss.
How is your diet?
Avoiding processed food is key. Try increasing the amount the amount of dietary fiber, which has been shown to promote a healthy weight and reduce the risk for weight gain. Try to avoid fried foods, baked goods, food high in salt and beverages with added sugars like juice, soda and sports drinks.
The bottom line
Diabetes is common but we have many tools to help us fight back. Use this month as an opportunity to assess your own risk, and make some small improvements in your lifestyle.