More than 25 million people in the United States currently live with diabetes and another 79 million are diagnosed with pre-diabetes -- the majority having type 2. This disease causes blood sugar levels to rise higher than normal and increases your risk for many serious health problems.
Type 2, the most common type of diabetes, develops slowly over time and is preventable. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include being overweight or obese, physical inactivity, a family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, older age and race/ethnicity. Type 2 Diabetes can be prevented or delayed by taking positive steps towards a healthier lifestyle. Lifestyle intervention studies have indicated the following methods to be the most effective in achieving improved blood sugar control.
1. Weight loss – The majority of individuals diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes are overweight. Maintaining a healthy weight allows the body to make better use of insulin. A weight loss of just seven percent of total body weight has shown to increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels in persons with diabetes.
2. Exercise – Brisk walking for at least 150 minutes a week has shown to manage pre-diabetes and prevent the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. Other benefits of exercise include:
- Increase in the rate at which the body burns calories, which assists with weight loss and weight maintenance
- Increase in the rate at which the heart can pump blood through the body with less effort, which boosts energy
- Keeping the heart and blood vessels healthy
- Stress reduction
3. Healthy diet – A diet rich in fiber (vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds) and low in total fat (<25% total daily calorie intake) has shown to improve blood sugar levels.
For additional information on healthy eating with diabetes please see link to the American Diabetes Association’s MyFoodAdvisor at http://www.diabetes.org/mfa-recipes/. Recipes and healthy eating tips offered in this site are suitable for everyone looking to eat more healthfully.
If you would like to learn more about diabetes, please visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/features/livingwithdiabetes/.