November is Diabetes Awareness Month, a time when communities, organizations, and individuals unite to raise awareness about the impact of diabetes. Diabetes affects millions of people worldwide and if left untreated, it can lead to significant health complications. Diabetes Awareness Month provides a platform to share information, support those living with diabetes, and promote healthy lifestyle choices to reduce the risk of this prevalent disease.
There are two types of diabetes, type 1, and type 2. Type 1 is typically diagnosed in childhood and is not preventable, whereas type 2 can be prevented or delayed through lifestyle changes. Recent data from the CDC reports that 11% of the U.S. population has diabetes, that up to 23% may have undiagnosed diabetes and that almost 40% have prediabetes. You are at risk for type 2 diabetes if you:
- have prediabetes
- are a person with excess weight.
- are 45 years or older.
- have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes.
- are physically active less than three times per week.
- have ever had gestational diabetes or have given birth to a baby over nine pounds.
- Are an African American, Hispanic, or Latino, American Indian, or Alaska Native person.
- have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
The following are some small steps you can take to enhance your health and reduce your risk of developing type two diabetes.
- Maintain a Healthy Diet: What you eat has a significant impact on your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Aim to incorporate a balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid excessive consumption of sugary beverages, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods. A diet low in added sugars and high in fiber can help stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Stay Physically Active: Regular physical activity is a key component of diabetes prevention. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise, like running, each week. Break this up into small blocks if needed. Ten minutes here and there do count. Additionally, strength training exercises can improve your body’s ability to use insulin effectively.
- Manage Your Weight: Maintaining a healthy weight is closely linked to diabetes prevention. If you are a persona with excess weight, even losing a small amount of weight can significantly reduce your risk. Strive for gradual and sustainable weight loss through a combination of a balanced diet and regular exercise. A healthy weight of rate loss is one half to two pounds per week.
- Regular Check-ups: Routine medical check-ups are essential for monitoring your health. Regular visits to your healthcare provider can help catch any early signs of diabetes or other health issues, allowing for timely intervention.
- Manage Stress: Chronic stress can contribute to unhealthy eating habits and decreased physical activity. Managing stress through techniques like mindfulness, yoga, or relaxation exercises can help maintain a balanced lifestyle that supports diabetes prevention.
- Get Enough Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Poor sleep can affect blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, making it essential for overall health.
- Avoid Smoking and Limit Alcohol: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of diabetes. If you smoke, seek assistance to quit, and if you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
Diabetes prevention is a proactive journey that begins with making healthy lifestyle choices. By maintaining a balanced diet, staying physically active, managing your weight, and attending regular check-ups, you can significantly reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes. Remember, small changes can make a big difference in your long-term health. Take charge of your well-being and start your journey toward a diabetes-free future today. If you suspect you are at risk, and are ready to make some changes, there are resources to help.
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