According to the Harvard School of Public Health, more than 24 million Americans are afflicted with type 2 diabetes. The disease accounts for over 70,000 deaths annually, making it the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes develops when the body stops producing enough insulin to sustain it, or the body can’t use the insulin the pancreas does produce (insulin resistance).
This happens over time when the body slowly stops responding to insulin signals, so insulin production rises causing blood-sugar levels to dangerously rise as well.
According to the CDC, risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:
- Age – people over 45 years of age are more likely to develop diabetes
- Genetics – having a close family member with the disease drastically increases your odds
- Ethnicity – people of African American, American Indian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic American or Asian American are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Having high blood pressure or high cholesterol
- Having had gestational diabetes or having given birth to a baby weighting over 9 pounds
Tips for Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
While many people may have a genetic predisposition to disease, up to 90% of cases are preventable
by keeping leading a healthy lifestyle. Some things you can do to help reduce your risk include:
- The National Institute of Digestive, Diabetes and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) advises people to look for labels that contain less saturated fats, trans fats, calories, sodium and added sugars.
- Eat smaller portions of healthier foods – think more fruits and veggies (at least half your plate every meal) and less meat.
- If you have trouble reducing portion sizes, drink a glass of water before your meals so you’ll consume less.
- Cut back on cheeses and other whole-fat dairy products (try getting your milk choice down to 1% or skim).
- Go with lower-sodium food choices, and try to substitute salt with different, healthier seasonings such as garlic or pepper.
- Go baked instead of fried!
- Eat more whole grains as they appear to help stabilize and maintain healthy blood-sugar levels.
- Maintain a healthy weight – those who are overweight are more likely to get type 2 diabetes, and those who are obese are at an even higher risk.
- Inactivity is a killer, so get moving! Try for at least half an hour of exercise everyday.
- Work activity into your day in little ways. Try taking the stairs more, walking on the spot while watching TV or pumping up your household chores by playing dance music while you work.
- Quit smoking and keep alcohol intake to a limited to moderate level (a drink a day won’t put you at risk, but 3 or more may).
- Control your blood pressure as high blood pressure has been linked to diabetes.
- Get regular checkups! If you’re in doubt, check it out. Ask your doctor to order a blood-glucose test to check your levels.
You can calculate your general risk
of developing type 2 diabetes here to see just how seriously you should be taking the threat. Thanks for visiting EMC!