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Want to hear some good news about diabetes? For many of us, the disease can be delayed or even prevented through making a few simple lifestyle changes. This is important because not only does diabetes affect about one out of every 11 Americans, but prediabetes affects one out three of us. But first, a quick look at what diabetes is. Before we talk about some ideas for delay and prevention, let’s look at what diabetes actually is:
Our bodies turn most of the food we eat, into sugar – also called glucose – that is then used for energy. To move sugar through the body, we need a hormone called insulin, which is made in the pancreas. If the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, or if our bodies cannot use it for some reason, too much sugar builds up in the blood. The result is a build-up of fatty deposits that block our blood vessels, which can lead to stroke or heart attack.
Types of Diabetes
In addition to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, there is also a condition called prediabetes, in which the blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 15 – 30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years. But here’s where the good news comes in: prediabetes can be reversed.
Through a national study called the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that “millions of high-risk people can delay or avoid developing type 2 diabetes by losing weight through regular physical activity and a diet low in fat calories.”
Where to start?
Along with a family history of diabetes, other major risk factors include, being overweight, not eating well and not getting enough exercise. By addressing these issues, you can help prevent or delay diabetes. Or as the CDC says: Prediabetes = Pre(vent)diabetes. Let’s take a look at how to get started:
The bottom line is that small changes can have a big impact. Delaying diabetes is the first step to prevention. At your next visit, talk with your doctor about getting your blood sugar tested and be sure that they know about any family history of diabetes.
Originally published April 19, 2017
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