There’s no doubt that Type 2 diabetes is becoming an increasingly bigger health problem across our country. Millions of Americans suffer from this disease and the risk rises with age. Diabetes occurs when the body can’t make enough insulin or can’t properly use the insulin it makes. Type 2 diabetes is caused by a number of factors, most often poor diet, lack of exercise and obesity.
The good news is that Type 2 diabetes is a largely preventable disease. Many health professionals believe that a combination of proper diet and increased physical activity* can help prevent this disease (and sometimes even reverse its course).
The reason this occurs is that when people are physically active, the cells in their body become more sensitive to insulin, so it can work more efficiently. During exercise, your cells also remove glucose from the blood using a mechanism totally separate from insulin. For this reason, exercising consistently can lower blood glucose and improve your A1C. Improving your A1C level can allow those suffering from diabetes to take fewer pills or use less insulin. Keep in mind that both strength and cardiovascular workouts are important in helping to prevent Type 2 diabetes.
Here are some proven steps to take to lower your chance of getting Type 2 diabetes:
- Control your weight – It is believed that excess weight is the single most important cause of diabetes. Losing 7 to 10 percent of your current weight can cut your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes in half.
- Be active – Experts believe that inactivity promotes Type 2 diabetes. Giving your muscles a workout improves their ability to use insulin and absorb glucose.
- Improve your diet – There is a lot of evidence that diets rich in whole grains help protect against diabetes while eating refined carbohydrates and trans fats can result in increased risk.
- Don’t consume sugary drinks – Studies show that people who drink soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages are more likely to gain weight than those who don’t, which can lead to diabetes.
- Quit smoking – Smokers are 50% more likely to develop diabetes. Heavy smokers are at an even higher risk. In addition, the combination of diabetes and smoking results in a very high risk of developing serious vascular disease.
Remember that although it may be a challenge to eat right and exercise regularly, the health rewards are numerous, especially when it comes to preventing diabetes – the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. So make an effort to avoid this deadly disease!
*It’s always good idea to talk to your medical provider before starting an exercise program if you haven’t exercised in a while.