This World Diabetes Day, we show you how…
This World Diabetes Day, we show you how to reduce your diabetes risk
Your mother had diabetes, and you’re afraid that you’ll develop it, too. Are there ways to estimate your risk? Yes, there are. Doctors have developed ways to identify people at increased risk of diabetes. However, diabetes isn’t inevitable even if you’re at increased risk. Losing weight, getting more exercise and eating a healthier diet may help prevent or delay diabetes. In addition, medications may help.
A Sugar Problem
Diabetes (diabetes mellitus) is a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is vital to your health because it’s your body’s main source of fuel. Normally, a hormone secreted by the pancreas (insulin) helps glucose enter muscle and fat cells. However, if you have diabetes, either your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or it’s not fully effective. Instead of
entering your cells, glucose levels rise in your blood. High blood glucose levels can damage cells and cause long-term complications. Blood sugar is measured by determining the milligrams of glucose in a deciliter of blood (mg/dL). The sugar in your blood normally rises after meals, but fluctuates within a narrow range when fasting. The normal range for someone who has fasted overnight is between 70 and 109 mg/dL. If your blood sugar consistently tests 126 mg/dL or higher after overnight fasting, you have diabetes. Diabetes mainly occurs in two forms – type 1 (formerly called juvenile or insulin-dependent diabetes) and type 2 (formerly called adult-onset or noninsulindependent diabetes). Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1, affecting between 90% and 95% of people with diabetes who are over 20 years old.
Identify It Early
The disease affects adults and children, yet many may not know they have it. That’s because diabetes can develop gradually over many years, often with few or no symptoms. However, certain factors may increase your risk of developing diabetes. Knowing your risk can help you prevent or delay the disease. One important risk factor is called impaired fasting glucose. You have impaired fasting glucose if the level of glucose in your blood after fasting measures between 110 and 125 mg/dL. That’s above normal but not quite diabetes. Having impaired fasting glucose is a sign that you’re at high risk of developing diabetes. It also means that you’re at increased risk of heart disease and death. In addition to impaired fasting glucose, other risk factors for diabetes include: Age – Your risk of type 2 diabetes increases as you get older, especially past the age of 40. Weight – Being overweight is one of the main risk factors
for diabetes – eight out of 10 people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. That’s because the more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to your own insulin. Family History – Your chance of developing diabetes increases if you have a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, with the disease. Inactivity – The less physically active you are, the greater is your risk of developing diabetes. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up blood sugar as energy, makes cells more sensitive to insulin, increases blood flow and improves circulation in even the smallest blood vessels. Another advantage of physical activity is that it adds muscle mass, which improves the use of glucose. If you have one or more risk factors, you may want to talk with your doctor about getting your blood glucose level tested. In addition, you may want to take steps to control your blood sugar.
There’s nothing you can do to change your age or family history. However, you may be able to control your weight and become more active. Doing so can dramatically reduce your risk of diabetes, according to a study. The study, which followed participants over four years, involved more than 3,000 people who were overweight and had impaired fasting glucose – both risk factors for diabetes. It was found that people who increased their physical exercise and lost weight were 58% less likely to develop diabetes than were those who didn’t increase their exercise or lose weight. In addition, some drugs may help lower your risk. People in the study who took metformin, a diabetes drug that inhibits the production and release of glucose from the liver, were 31% less likely to develop diabetes than were people who didn’t. Some other drugs, such as those used to lower cholesterol (statins) and a class or drugs used to treat high blood pressure, also have shown promise in helping prevent diabetes, although further research is needed. Talk with your doctor about ways to help lower your risk of diabetes.
Cut Down On Calories
In order to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn. Foods high in fat are the most concentrated source of food energy, providing lots of calories but little nutritional value. Limiting foods high in fat can help you reduce calories. But remember, low-fat and fat-free foods contain calories, too. To lose weight, you need to limit calories as well as limit the amount of fat in your diet. To lower calories and cut down on fat: Read the labels on processed foods and check calorie counts and serving sizes. Compare the amount you eat with the serving size listed on the package. Choose fat-free or low-fat products. For example, switching from whole milk to skim milk can make a significant difference in your intake of calories over time. Use only small amounts of canola or olive oil in cooking and on salads. Although these oils have as many calories as other fats, they’re healthier for your heart. Avoid fried foods. Instead, bake, steam, grill, broil or roast meat, fish and vegetables. Marinate meats and use herbs and spices to give them flavour. Buy lean cuts of meat and trim off the excess fat. Remove the skin from poultry before eating. Season vegetables with lemon, lime or herbs rather than butter or cheese. Eat fresh fruit and sugar-free gelatin or puddings instead of calorie-laden pies and cakes. Replace shortening in baked goods, with applesauce or prune purée. Cut down on high-fat and highly processed starches, such as chips and snack crackers, white breads and pasta. Instead use whole-grain breads and crackers, brown rice and wholewheat pastas. Serve smaller portions. Using a smaller plate may help ‘fool the eye’.
Take A Walk – It’s Safe And Inexpensive
Physical activity and aerobic exercise are the perfect complements to a healthy, lowfat diet for losing weight and improving health. Walking is one of the easiest ways to get aerobic exercise. Best yet, it’s an activity that can help you lose weight and lower your risk of certain diseases. Walking for 40 minutes four times a week is enough to lower cardiovascular risk and improve blood sugar control. In addition, you can cut your risk of developing diabetes in half with one hour a day of brisk walking.