Some chronic medical conditions are unavoidable. Things that are beyond your control, such as genetics, environmental factors, and accidents can lead to lifelong medical issues. But some conditions are preventable, including Type 2 diabetes — at least you can reduce your risk.
Who needs to watch out for diabetes?
Anyone can get diabetes — in fact, more than 34 million Americans are living with it right now. Why do some people get diabetes and others seem to get off scot-free? The answer lies in the risk factors. Certain variables make you more or less likely to get diabetes, including some you can’t control, such as:
- Genetics: You’re at a higher risk if it runs in your family
- Age: The older you get, the more susceptible you are
- Ethnicity: Americans with African, Asian, and Hispanic heritage have a higher incidence of diabetes
Pregnant women are also at high risk for a specific type of the disease called gestational diabetes, but it typically resolves after delivery.
If any of these factors apply to you, we recommend keeping tabs on your health by coming in to see us for a diabetes screening and for the latest in treatment therapies should you need them. Meanwhile, there’s a lot you can do to lower your chances of getting diabetes in the first place.
Things you can do to avoid diabetes
Diabetes prevention is possible because you have the power to take control of the modifiable risk factors in your life.
A healthy diet is the first step in preventing or treating just about every known illness and disease, because your body needs proper nutrition to fight off pathogens and heal tissue. When you have diabetes, diet is doubly important: Good nutrition strengthens your immune system, but poor food choices can directly lead to or worsen diabetes.
To stave off the disease, eat plenty of vegetables, fruit, lean proteins, and whole grains. Avoid trans fats, red meat, refined carbohydrates, cholesterol, and sugar. Also, adding more fiber to your diet may help you avoid diabetes, as dietary fiber tends to prevent blood sugar spikes.
Watch your portions
How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Large servings of any food, even healthy choices, can cause a spike in blood sugar and insulin.
When you’re thirsty, reach for water. Any beverages with sugar, including alcohol, can cause a spike in your blood sugar. Studies show that people who down two or more sweet drinks a day increase their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by almost 100%.
If you’re carrying a few (or many) extra pounds, it may lead to diabetes. When you have too much visceral (hard) fat, especially around your belly, it causes inflammation and insulin resistance. Fortunately, for every 2.2 pounds you lose, you reduce your risk of diabetes by 16%.
If you don’t smoke, congratulations — you’ve made a wise choice that reduces your chances of getting cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. That’s right, diabetes is linked to smoking. Smokers are 44 times more likely to develop diabetes; if you smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day, that number jumps to 61 times more likely.
Sitting around all day is extremely unhealthy. Your body needs to move regularly to keep all systems running smoothly. And if you spend more time sitting than standing or walking, you’re putting yourself at a higher risk for diabetes.
Think of it this way: Every two hours that you spend binge watching your favorite show, playing video games, or working at your computer increases your chances of developing diabetes by 14%. So, set an alarm that reminds you to get up and move around for a few minutes every hour.
A word about prediabetes
There’s a phase of diabetes, called prediabetes, that precedes the full-blown stage of the disease. If you have prediabetes, it means your blood sugar is too high, but not high enough for a full-fledged diabetes diagnosis.
The good news is that it’s not too late to reverse the problem and change the trajectory of your health. But there’s no time to waste. Now is the time to get serious about making diet and lifestyle changes that can help you avoid diabetes and other chronic conditions.
To find out more about how to prevent diabetes or how to treat and manage the condition if you already have it, schedule a consultation with Ally Endocrinology experts at any one of our three Troy, Michigan , locations.