Diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate in America. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 37 million people have diabetes, which is 11.3 % of the total US population.
If you are diabetic or prediabetic, you can prevent or reduce risk of diabetes by making changes to your lifestyle. This article will explain the five steps to reduce and prevent the risks of diabetes.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic condition where the body cannot digest glucose (sugar) in the cells and utilize it for energy. This leads to a buildup of glucose in the blood.
Mismanaging diabetes can lead to complications, causing severe damage to the body’s tissues and organs, including kidneys, eyes, nerves, and heart.
Risks Associated With Diabetes
Long-term risks of diabetes develop gradually. If your blood sugar levels remain high for longer (over months and years), your body’s organs and tissues can permanently be damaged.
Diabetes complications and risks can be disabling or life-threatening in the long run. Here are a few common risks of diabetes:
- Cardiovascular problems such as chest pain, stroke, hypertension, coronary artery disease, heart attack, atherosclerosis, and high cholesterol
- Peripheral neuropathy – nerve damage located outside of the brain and spinal cord – that causes weakness, pain, and numbness, mainly in the feet and hands
- Nephropathy is a progressive disease that affects your kidney and may cause kidney failure.
- Retinopathy affects your eyes and causes blindness, glaucoma, and cataracts.
- Foot damage caused by poor blood circulation and nerve damage
- Skin infections
- Hearing loss
- Erectile dysfunction
- Dental problems
Most women with gestational diabetes deliver healthy newborns; however, uncontrolled or untreated glycemia (blood glucose or blood sugar level) can cause severe issues for the patient and the baby.
Here are some risks associated with gestational diabetes:
- In Mothers: Preeclampsia (hypertension, feet/leg swelling, and high levels of protein in the urine), risks of having gestational diabetes in future pregnancies
- In Newborns: Fetal macrosomia (excess weight that is more than normal), hypoglycemia (low blood glucose level), risks of getting Type 2 diabetes in the future, and death before or shortly after the birth
5 Effective Ways To Prevent or Reduce Risk of Diabetes
Living with diabetes is often challenging and requires a balancing act. You have to consider various factors; sometimes, it can be hard to know what’s best.
However, you don’t have to put yourself on hold. If you are at risk for diabetes, here are five tried and tested ways to prevent or reduce risk of diabetes:
1. Weight Management
Weight control is one of the best and proven ways to prevent or reduce risk of diabetes. You can manage diabetes just by losing 5-10 percent of your body weight.
According to one study, people drastically reduced their risk of getting diabetes by nearly 60 percent after they lost almost 7 percent of their weight with slight changes in diet and exercise.
If your weight is 200, the goal should be to reduce by at least 10-20 pounds. Once you successfully lose weight, take steps to keep it that way.
2. Find An Active Exercise You Enjoy
There are numerous benefits to physical activities. It can help to:
- Lose weight
- Lower blood glucose levels
- Improve your insulin sensitivity
Here are a few goals you should follow to lose excess weight and ensure a healthy routine:
- Resistance exercises: Perform resistance exercises, including yoga, weightlifting, and calisthenics, twice a week. It helps improve balance and strength and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- Aerobic exercises: Do aerobic exercises such as swimming, running, biking, or brisk walking daily for 30-40 minutes.
- Limited inactivity: Breaking your continuous bouts of sedentary such as sitting at computers can help manage blood glucose levels. Walk, stand, or perform light exercises every 20-30 minutes.
3. Decrease Saturated Fat Consumption
Foods with saturated fats (fatty foods) are high in calories and must be consumed in moderation. To lose and manage weight, consume a diet with a range of foods high in unsaturated fats (healthy fats).
Unsaturated fats, both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, promote healthy cholesterol levels and vascular and neural health.
Here are some foods that contain unsaturated fats:
- Safflower, olive, sunflower, canola, and cottonseed oils
- Seeds and nuts, like almonds, flaxseed, and peanuts
- Fatty fish such as mackerel, tuna, cod, sardines, and salmon
4. Eat a Plant-Based Diet
Plants provide minerals, carbohydrates, and vitamins to your body. Carbohydrates contain starches and sugar (the primary sources of a body’s energy), and fiber. Also called bulk or roughage, dietary fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods.
If you consume fiber-rich foods, you can reduce your weight and the risks of diabetes. Here are some fiber-rich, healthy foods that you should include in your dietary plan:
- Fruits like peppers, tomatoes, etc.
- Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, and beans
- Whole grains like whole wheat bread and pasta, whole oats, quinoa, and whole grain rice
- Nonstarchy vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and leafy greens
5. Drink Water
Instead of consuming beverages, stick to water as your primary go-to drink. This helps control insulin and blood sugar levels, reducing the risks associated with diabetes. When you limit yourself to water, you won’t drink beverages with high sugar content and preservatives.
According to one study, people consuming two or more servings of sugar-rich beverages each day have a 20 percent increased risk of getting Type 2 diabetes and LADA (latent autoimmune diabetes in adults), respectively.
Consult Imperial Center Family Medicine Experts for Diabetes Screening
Whether you are prediabetic, meet high-risk criteria, or want to lower your risk, following these five helps ensure a healthy lifestyle.
At Imperial Center Family Medicine (ICFM), our health-care professionals and experts provide a comprehensive range of diabetes care and educational services.
Get in touch with our expert providers to learn more about our diabetic care services, screening, and to schedule testing.