November is American Diabetes Month.
Before you roll your eyes and stop reading, let me ask you 5 questions:
- Are you one of the 25.8 million Americans with diabetes?
- Is one of your friends, neighbors, co-workers, or family members one of the 25.8 million Americans with diabetes?
- Are you one of the 79 million Americans with prediabetes?
- Do you know one of the 79 million Americans with prediabetes?
- If you answered yes to any of the above, do you wish you could answer no? If you answered no to all of the above questions, do you want to keep it that way?
Luckily, there are many ways to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.
But what about type 1 diabetes and type 3 diabetes?
Slow down sugar plum, let’s start with a few definitions.
- Type 1 diabetes: a form of diabetes in which the pancreas does not secrete insulin. It is usually detected in children, adolescents, and young adults and there is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes.
- Type 2 diabetes: a form of diabetes in which the body does not produce enough insulin and/or the body is not able to use the insulin . It accounts for 90-95% of diagnosed cases of diabetes but it is highly preventable through healthy lifestyle interventions.
- Gestational diabetes: a form of diabetes that may happen during pregnancy.
- Prediabetes: a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. It can progress to type 2 diabetes but it is also highly preventable.
The CDC estimates that 1 out of every 3 children born in the U.S. in 2000 will have diabetes in his or her lifetime but some people are more at risk than others.
Am I at risk for type 2 diabetes?
Risk of type 2 diabetes is increased if you:
- are 45 years old or older
- are overweight
- have a parent, child, brother, or sister with diabetes
- exercise less than 3 times per week
- are African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander
- have been previously identified to have prediabetes
- have a history of gestational diabetes or have given birth to a baby weighting more than 9 pounds
- have high blood pressure
- have an HDL cholesterol level below 35 mg/dL
- have a triglyceride level above 250 mg/dL
But don’t worry, there’s still hope.
How can I prevent type 2 diabetes?
Follow these tips to stay ahead of the curve:
- Maintain a healthy body weight. If you are overweight, work with a dietitian who can help you make a few simple changes to lower your weight
- Include regular physical activity in your life – at least 150 minutes per week
- Get enough fiber – about 21-25 grams per day for women and 30-38 grams per day for men
- Make sure at least half of the grains you eat are whole grains – choose whole wheat bread, brown rice, corn or wheat tortillas instead of white alternatives
- Keep your saturated fat intake low – choose lean meats, fat-free dairy, and use vegetables oils in cooking instead of butter or lard
- If you drink alcohol, do not exceed moderate intake
- If you’ve heard about low glycemic index foods (low GI), don’t waste your time as the evidence is lacking to support their use in preventing type 2 diabetes
Bonus: These changes will also help with weight loss, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and heart disease risk.