Reduce Your Diabetes Risk
by Lara Hassan, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.D.E.
There are 16 million people in the United States who have diabetes. Unfortunately, five million of them don't know it. The percentage of Americans with diabetes has been rising for decades due to the greater prevalence of obesity and sedentary lifestyles, as well as an increased number of older Americans.
What is type 2 diabetes? It occurs when your body is not producing enough insulin or your tissue cells are not using insulin efficiently due to insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas that helps transport sugar from the blood into the cells for energy. When glucose builds up in the blood, it can lead to serious complications over time, such as kidney failure, blindness, amputations, heart disease and stroke.
Are you at risk? The more risk factors you have, the higher your chance of developing diabetes.
The risk factors are:
How do you reduce your risk?
Achieve a healthy weight
You don't need to follow a rigid diet or deprive yourself of your favorite foods to lose weight. Simply cut back on calories by reducing your portion sizes and limiting intake of alcohol and foods high in sugar. Incorporate your favorite high calorie foods into your diet only occasionally. If you eat out regularly, split entrees and make special requests to reduce the fat content of your meal. For example, request that the beef, fish or chicken is "dry grilled," baked or broiled; order dressings and sauces on the side; and leave off the cheese, bacon bits, and croutons from the salad. Skip the mayonnaise and cheese when ordering a sandwich, and substitute veggies, fruits or baked chips for fried chips or fries.
Exercise should not be a painful task. Simply engage in some form of physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day. Walking is simple and safe. However, consider taking dance classes or learning a new sport to prevent boredom. In addition, resistance training is an important means of preserving and increasing muscle strength and endurance, as well as preventing falls and increasing mobility among the elderly. Exercise makes your muscle cells more sensitive to insulin, thus making insulin more efficiently used by your body.
Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes
These foods are rich sources of fiber and magnesium. Limit or omit refined breads, cereals, and sugars. Meanwhile, decrease saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol containing foods and decrease sodium intake.
Follow your physician's recommendations regarding how often you should get your fasting blood glucose level tested.