Happy World Diabetes Day! November 14th is recognized in the midst of the broader National Diabetes Awareness Month and we commemorate globally to raise awareness about both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Throughout the extent of National Diabetes Awareness Month, we direct our focus to education and advocacy about one of the fastest-growing global epidemics that covers the world – type 2 diabetes. The difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes is important to distinguish. While both types of diabetes are chronic diseases that affect the way that the body regulates glucose— or blood sugar— there are differences as well. Insulin is the hormone that your body secretes to break down the sugars in your body. People with type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin at all, which is usually noticed earlier in life, while people with type two diabetes don’t respond to the insulin that their bodies are producing. This insulin insensitivity usually develops later in life, and is the type referred to when we discuss the possibility of preventing diabetes in the current epidemic.
According to the American Diabetes Association, over 30 million Americans are affected by diabetes. Another 84 million are living with prediabetes, which increases their risk of developing type 2 diabetes because of the reduced insulin sensitivity, impaired glucose tolerance, and elevated blood sugar levels that are associated with it. Studies suggest that one in three of those living with prediabetes will be diagnosed with diabetes by 2050 if lifestyle changes are not made. It’s because of this immense risk that World Diabetes Day aims to bring awareness to the causes of type 2 diabetes and to the changes that individuals can make to lower their risk of developing the disease. The most effective way to prevent type 2 diabetes is by living a healthy lifestyle. To show you how to do that, we’ve compiled a list of simple tips that you can implement into your daily life to make strides toward leading a healthy life.
Visit Your Doctor Regularly
Maintaining annual or bi-annual appointments with a general practitioner is critical for knowing the overall health of your body, especially as we age. During these visits, be as honest and open as possible so that your doctor can determine a baseline for your everyday health to track against future changes. Your practitioner can help identify areas where you could improve your health or areas of concern. Inform your doctor of family health history, including diabetes or pre-diabetes diagnoses so they can be aware of your predisposition to the disease since chances of getting the disease are influenced by genetics. Beyond visiting a doctor and being honest about your baseline health, it’s important to educate yourself on the symptoms of prediabetes and to pay attention to their possible presence in your body. The most common symptoms include frequent urination, feeling irregularly thirsty or hungry after you just ate, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, cuts and bruises that seem to never heal, and pain, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet. If you notice any of these symptoms occurring with any frequency, schedule an appointment with your doctor and ask for them to run blood sugar tests. As is true of many diseases, early detection is key, so bringing these symptoms to your doctor’s attention as soon as possible is the best course of action.
Because diabetes develops as impaired glucose tolerance increases, paying attention to and maintaining what nutrients you put in your body is key for staying healthy. Eating well will help you maintain a lower body weight, which has been proven to lower the risk of developing diabetes and pre-diabetes.. In order to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight, eat a variety of whole, nutrient-rich foods every day — including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, non-fat dairy, healthy fats, and lean proteins. If you have a hard time knowing which foods are the healthier options, or are feeling overwhelmed by completely overhauling your diet, consider joining a weight loss program with DPP curriculum, such as that from Lark. This can help you learn what changes will have a positive effect on your weight and lifestyle by having a better understanding of what nutrients are in the foods you’re eating, how much of that you should be eating and the effects those nutrients have on your body.
Move Your Body
Along with eating well, another key to maintaining a healthy body weight is to keep your body in motion. Both formal exercise and implementing small changes to your daily activity can make a big difference in weight loss. As a general rule, try to maintain a regular workout schedule of at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity activities per week to increase your insulin sensitivity. These activities can include brisk walking, gardening, swimming, dancing, cycling, kickboxing, resistance and strength training or other classes of your choice! Beyond organized exercise, staying in motion throughout your day is important for overall health as well. Especially if you work a desk job or sit for long periods of time every day, set reminders to stand up, stretch, or walk around once an hour to break up long periods of sedentary activity. Walking for two minutes every hour adds up as the week goes on and will decrease the total amount of fat tissue in the body and help you lose weight, thus requiring less insulin to keep your blood sugar levels under control and ultimately lowering your chance of developing diabetes in the future.
In honor of World Diabetes Day, take the time to become aware of your blood sugar levels by visiting your doctor and reass the way you live your life. Implement the above tips of getting in tune with your own body, eating whole foods, and keeping your body in motion. Know your risks and keep yourself safe from diabetes. After all, the stakes are high and knowledge is power— use this time wisely!
About Our Guest Author:
Christie is a content specialist who’s passionate about helping others live a long, healthy life. The only thing she loves more than sharing the knowledge she’s gained from working in the health space is her husband and two kids.