What is Diabetes?
There are two forms of diabetes: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Most individuals have type 2 diabetes. It is most often linked to being overweight, obese, and physically inactive. Most often type 2 diabetes is developed in middle aged and older adults. Young individuals are susceptible to diabetes type 2 as well.
Diabetes develops as the body does not make enough insulin and the body is not able to use the insulin properly.
Type 1 diabetes usually begins in individuals at a very early age as a result of the inability to produce insulin. These individuals usually require daily insulin to control the levels of sugar in their body.
What is Pre-diabetes?
Pre-diabetes is a condition in which individuals have high blood glucose levels or hemoglobin A1C levels. Basically the body is not able to manage converting sugars into energy. These individuals have a 50% chance of developing type 2 diabetes within 10 years. In addition, these individuals are at 1.5 times greater risk of heart and blood vessel disease. This includes high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.
For individuals recently diagnoses with pre-diabetes, the news can be upsetting. However, this can become a great opportunity to do something about one’s health. Many individuals who are recently diagnosed find that they have the power to do something about it and make healthy changes.
Is diabetes treatable?
Yes, it is treatable and preventable. A large study including individuals with high risk for diabetes revealed that lifestyle intervention resulting in weight loss and increased physical activity can delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes with return of blood sugar levels within normal range1.
Who should be preventing Diabetes?
The answer is everyone including those who are pre-diabetic and diabetic. Diabetes is both preventable and treatable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 9 out of 10 individuals with pre-diabetes do not know they have it. If left untreated complications can arise including cardiovascular disease, heart disease, peripheral arterial disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve disease, possible limb amputations, and premature death.
How can Diabetes be prevented?
Prevention of diabetes is directly associated with changes in lifestyle. Diet and exercise are the most critical areas to make lifestyle changes in. Studies show the incidence of diabetes is directly associated with changes in lifestyle2. Additional lifestyle changes include weight loss for individuals with obesity, smoking cessation for those who smoke. Also avoiding second hand smoke can play a role in prevention.
What kind of diet is best?
Proper nutrition is key. Eating heart healthy with vegetables and fruit primarily will play a major role in the prevention of diabetes. American Heart Association (AHA) suggests an eating plan that is low in saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.
Individuals with pre-diabetes or diabetes have food limitations of simple carbohydrates which are found in table sugar, cake, soda, candy, and jellies due to increase in blood sugar.
AHA suggests limiting sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg per day. Also, limit cholesterol to less than 300 mg per day. Alcohol should be limited for females to one drink per day and males should limit to two drinks per day.
Fruits and vegetable should be deeply colored such as spinach, carrots, peaches and berries.
What type of exercise is best?
Proper exercise can substantially reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes3. According the American Diabetes Association (ADA) exercise help to keep your blood sugar, blood pressure, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides on target. It will lower your risk for pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Other benefits to exercise include strengthening your heart, keeping your joints flexible, and relieve stress.
Aerobic exercise improves blood circulation and lowers your risk for type 2 diabetes. There are many different types of aerobic exercise. A few types include taking a brisk walk everyday, dancing, swimming or water aerobics, and riding a stationary bike.
ADA suggests when starting a new exercise routing aim for about 30 minutes for at least 5 days a week. If you are trying to loose weight it may be necessary to increase the time.
Working with your health care team
It is critical to be in communication with your health care team to create a reasonable weight loss goal and lifestyle modification plan. Working together with a medical team can increase your chances of preventing diabetes. Your health care team can monitor your labs every few months to track your blood glucose, hemoglobin A1C, along with your diabetes and heart disease risk factors.
Some individuals with pre-diabetes may be prescribed medication to help prevent diabetes. These individuals have a higher than average risk of heart attacks, strokes and other health problems. It is important to take medications as prescribed to gain optimal results.
American Heart Association www.heart.org
American Diabetes Association www.diabetes.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov/diabetes
1. Tuomilehto J, Lindström J, Eriksson JG, et al. Prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus by changes in lifestyle among subjects with impaired glucose tolerance. N Engl J Med 2001; 344:1343.
2. Knowler WC, Barrett-Connor E, Fowler SE, et al. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin. N Engl J Med 2002; 346:393.
3. Hu G, Lindström J, Valle TT, et al. Physical activity, body mass index, and risk of type 2 diabetes in patients with normal or impaired glucose regulation. Arch Intern Med 2004; 164:892.