Preventing Diabetes: Four Helpful Steps

couple walking cropped iStock_000012129379_SmallThe only bright side to diabetes is that it usually doesn’t develop overnight. Warning signs – and opportunities to do something about them – often are lurking for years. Heading diabetes off at the pass may be a lot easier than you think. Minor lifestyle changes – really, they’re things you should be doing anyway – can dramatically lower your chances of ever having to deal with it.

 

 

 

Take off your blinders; look at your risk

And diabetes is nothing to mess around with. It can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease – and even raise your risk for some types of cancer.

First, it’s a good idea to know your risk. You’re more likely to develop diabetes if you:

  • Are over 45 years old
  • Are overweight
  • Have relatives with diabetes
  • Don’t exercise
  • Have high blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Are African American or Hispanic
  • Had gestational diabetes

Throw away the remote and the ice cream. Even if you’re at risk, you don’t have to resign yourself to developing diabetes. In fact, a large national study* of more than 3,000 people showed that diabetes often can be prevented – or at least delayed – if people follow a few simple steps. Like I said, you’ve probably heard them all before.

Drop a few (or more) pounds. Even 5% to 7% of your weight can make a difference.

Get moving. Try to be active almost every day, even if it’s just a walk around the block or some puttering in the garden. Aim for 30 minutes, five days a week. Of course, get the go-ahead from your doctor first.

Watch what you put in your body.

  • Cut down on fats
  • Eat lots of fiber and whole grains
  • Shovel in fresh fruits and veggies; nibble on red meat
  • Shun fried foods and high-fat foods
  • Avoid foods high in salt or sugar
  • Walk away from fad diets, like high protein
  • Consider talking to a nutritionist if you aren’t sure where to start

Start a dialogue with your doctor. At your annual check-up (don’t delay; schedule today), ask about your risk and how you can nip diabetes in the bud.

 

Sources

http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/prevention/checkup-america/

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diabetes-prevention/DA00127

http://diabetes.webmd.com/prevention-program

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Stacy Madden