Diabetes: If You Can’t Prevent It, You May Be Able to Delay It

Diabetes: If You Can’t Prevent It, You May Be Able to Delay It

Diabetes: If You Can’t Prevent It, You May Be Able to Delay It

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When it comes to diabetes, small changes in your diet and lifestyle can have a big payoff. How?

Many people do not know they have pre-diabetes. That’s when blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

The good news is 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.”

According to the NIH the three major causes of type 2 diabetes are often within our control. These are:

  • Excess weight, particularly that spare tire that shows up around the waist.
  • Physical inactivity. To put it simply, you must figure out ways to get your body moving.
  • Sleep problems. Believe it or not, poor sleep can raise the risk of obesity and diabetes.

Diabetes Basics

When we eat, most of our food is turned into glucose, or sugar, which the body uses as energy. Diabetes is a disease in which blood sugar level, or blood glucose, is too high. The sugar is moved around the body to our cells by a hormone, called insulin, which is made in the pancreas.

For a person with diabetes, the body either doesn't make enough insulin or the body is not able to use the insulin it does make. In either case, sugar builds up in the blood. Over time, this may lead to heart attacks, high blood pressure, stroke, blindness and more.

Two types of diabetes
  • Type 1: The body does not make any insulin. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin each day.
  • Type 2: The body does not make enough insulin or does not use it well. This is the most common form of diabetes and is the type that can benefit from lifestyle changes.
Simple Ways to Fight Diabetes

Of course, getting more physical activity and eating better aren’t new messages.  So, how do you do it? Start with some small steps.   Try these tips. Healthy actions do add up!

  1. When possible, use the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
  2. Walk in place while watching TV.
  3. When you're doing errands, park a little farther away or get off the bus a stop earlier.
  4. Eat an orange instead of drinking orange juice.
  5. Drink plain water instead of juice, soda, flavored water or diet drinks.
  6. Cut down your salt. Try to cook more with spices.
  7. Never grocery shop on an empty stomach.
  8. If you need to snack between meals, try to choose whole foods like grains, fruits or veggies. Even popcorn without the salt can take care of those hunger pains

Delaying diabetes is the first step to prevention. Along with making changes, talk with your doctor about getting your blood sugar tested. Be sure that they know if you have a family history of diabetes. 

Sources: Diabetes Prevention Program,   National Institutes of Health; Diabetes Overview,   American Diabetes Association, 2020; Prediabetes - Your Chance to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes,   The Surprising Truth About Prediabetes  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020.

Important Information

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Originally published December 5, 2016 Revised 2019, 2020

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