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How to Lower Your Risk of High Blood Sugar and Adult Diabetes

World’s Diabetes Day takes place in November, but in the U.S., March 22nd is national American Diabetes Association Alert Day. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, more than 24 million Americans have diabetes and it is currently the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S. Adult, or Type 2, diabetes can develop at any age, but its most common onset is in adulthood. In this type of diabetes, your body is not able to use insulin the correct way, which results in the pancreas producing less of it.

Diabetes is a serious disease around the world and is the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure. It is also a critical risk factor for heart disease, stroke and leg/foot amputations. In addition diabetes is associated with loss of memory, poor concentration and even Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms of the disease include frequent urination, increased thirst and hunger, fatigue, blurred vision, tingling, pain or numbness in the hands/feet and cuts or bruises that are slow to heal. Early detection and the treatment of diabetes can decrease your risk of developing complications from it; and in my clinical practice with early intervention that includes changes in diet and lifestyle we have successfully reversed blood sugars back into the normal range

The good news, however, is that while Type 2 diabetes can be brought on from inherited genes,  most health officials agree that the disease is largely preventable and can be avoided by taking the below healthy lifestyle steps. Even if you have prediabetes or high blood sugar right now, lifestyle changes can slow or halt the progression of diabetes.

Keep Your Weight Under Control: If you are overweight, health experts agree that losing just 7% of your body weight can reduce your risk of diabetes. To keep your weight within a healthy range, make permanent changes to your eating and exercise habits. Eat less carbohydrates, avoid or at the very least avoid sugary drinks such as juice and soda and eat more slowly so that your body has time to realize it has been sufficiently fueled.  Instead of reaching for food out of habit or boredom, make sure you are not confusing thirst with hunger.  All too often people will find themselves snacking while what they really need is a nice tall glass of water. Also turn to exercise or other stress releasing activities, such as practicing meditation or reading a book; stress eating is a very real issue that can sabotage ones health and increase risk of diabetes. If you feel you can’t lose the excess weight on your own, join a weight-loss center and get the support you need.

Move More: Aim to incorporate 30 minutes of moderate physical activity into your day. Take a quick daily walk through your neighborhood, choose to take the stairs over the elevator, dance while doing chores, march in place or stand while you watch TV, ride a bike to run your errands, run on the treadmill after work or swim some laps at your local pool. If you can’t fit in a long workout all at once, spread out three 10-minute sessions during your day. Using modern technology to track your movement on your smart phone or watch will serve to both motivate and give you real time feedback if you are meeting your goals of keeping your body in motion.

Eat a Healthy Diet: Choose whole grains over processed carbs that can cause spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. Drink water, non-sugared coffee or tea instead of sugary drinks that can contribute to chronic inflammation, high cholesterol levels and increased insulin resistance. Limit your intake of red and processed meats and eat nuts, poultry or fish instead. Choose good fats, like those found in nuts and seeds, instead of those found in fried food.  Incorporating more fiber rich foods and also the spice cinnamon into your daily routine can also pay big dividends.

Stop Smoking: There are many studies directly linking smoking to Type 2 diabetes, which makes quitting more important than ever. For free help in the U.S. to quit, call 1-800-QUIT NOW or visit CDC.gov/tips.

 

American Diabetes Association. (2015). Diabetes Symptoms. Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/symptoms/?referrer=https://www.google.com/

Beliveau, Richard, Ph.D., Denis Gingras, PhD. (2015). 5 Ways to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes. Retrieved from http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/diabetes/5-ways-to-prevent-type-2-diabetes

Moreira PI, et al. Brain Mitochondria Dysfunction as a link between Alzheimer’s Disease and Diabetes. Journal of the Neurological Sciences 257(2007):206-214. https://estudogeral.sib.uc.pt/bitstream/10316/4714/1/file71e36238b7a24f3a899c6a18525e2353.pdf

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Smoking and Diabetes. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/diabetes.html

Harvard School of Public Health. (2015). Simple Steps to preventing Diabetes. Retrieved from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/preventing-diabetes-full-story/

Mayo Clinic. (2015). Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/basics/prevention/con-20031902

National Diabetes Education Program. (2014). Choose More Than 50 Ways to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes. Retrieved from http://ndep.nih.gov/publications/publicationdetail.aspx?pubid=72

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Improve Posture

  • 1.Avoid slouching. Be aware of your posture as you walk, sit, and drive, keep shoulders squared and head pulled back and up.

  • 2.Imagine a thread pulling the top of your head toward the ceiling. Visualization can help improve your sense of position.

  • 3.If your job requires you to sit for long periods, take frequent breaks to stand, stretch and shake it out.

  • 4.Maintain a strong core to help support proper posture. Add core-training exercises to your daily routine.

  • 5.A firm mattress and ergonomic pillow help achieve proper back support while you sleep, so you'll stand straighter in the a.m.

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