Diabetes is a growing health threat for millions of American children and adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 30 million Americans (including both children and adults) — over 10% of the overall population — were suffering from diabetes as of 2018.
At Midwest Regional Health Services, our team of primary care physicians and medical staff offer diabetes management and treatment services for children and adults at our practice in Omaha, Nebraska.
What you can do to protect yourself from type 2 diabetes
There are different types of diabetes: mainly type 1 (lack of insulin) and type 2 (insulin resistance). Type 1 diabetes isn’t preventable, but it can be managed by taking insulin. However, you can prevent or lower your risk of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle modifications, including a healthy diet and exercise.
Some of the risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Not getting enough exercise/being sedentary
- Family history
- Race and ethnicity (type 2 diabetes tends to be more common in Black, Hispanic, and Asian people)
- Being pregnant
- Age (risk increases over age 45)
Although some of the factors that increase the risk of type 2 diabetes are unavoidable, everyone can take a proactive approach to diet and exercise. These are the key lifestyle factors that can help you cut or eliminate your risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the short- and long-term.
Manage your type 2 diabetes risk with food
Diet plays a crucial role in your overall health and wellness, and it’s also one of the best defenses against type 2 diabetes. While you don’t have to adhere to a strict or specific type of diet to prevent diabetes, there are a few general practices that can make all the difference in keeping your blood sugar under control:
- Limit (or better yet avoid) processed foods
- Make sure you’re eating enough fiber
- Avoid refined sugars and carbohydrates
- Be mindful of portion sizes
- Eat at regular intervals (smaller meals and snacks every few hours)
- Drink more water
- Add more fruit and greens to your meals
A healthy diet is also the best way to maintain a healthy and normal weight for your body type — another key factor in preventing type 2 diabetes. Overhauling your diet all at once can be difficult and overwhelming, so if you need to make improvements, start small and work your way up by switching out sugary snacks and drinks and drinking more water throughout the day. Over time, your cravings will adjust, and eating healthier won’t feel like a chore.
Tobacco use can wreak havoc on your health and wellbeing in a number of ways, and it can also put you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), smokers can be as much as 30-40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-smokers.
Move your body
You don’t need an expensive gym membership or equipment to exercise. Whether you prefer to take a spin on the bike or take vigorous walks, the important thing is to exercise on a regular basis. In addition to helping you to lose excess weight and maintain a healthy weight, research has found that exercise helps the body regulate insulin and blood sugar levels more efficiently.
Wherever you are in your health and wellness journey, it’s never too late to make lifestyle adjustments to lower your risk of diabetes and improve your overall health and wellbeing.
For more information about diabetes prevention and treatment for children and adults, call Midwest Regional Health Services at 402-230-7945 today to schedule an appointment with a primary care physician. You can also request an appointment online.