Diabetes is an increasingly prevalent chronic illness in America. According to the most recent statistics from the American Diabetes Association, 29.1 million Americans have diabetes and 1.4 million new cases are diagnosed every year¹.
How can you avoid becoming one of these statistics? The answer might surprise you.
Read on to learn about the important connection between exercise, healthy eating and lowering your risk for developing diabetes.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to process sugar properly. There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 is usually seen in children and occurs when the body no longer produces insulin, which controls the way we process sugar. Type 2 is typically seen in obese adults and occurs when the body makes its own insulin but the body does not respond appropriately to the insulin it is making, causing the blood sugar to run higher. Both types of diabetes may be managed with glucose monitors, shots and/or oral medications.
Type 1 diabetes may be an autoimmune disease, but there’s no definitive answer to its origin. Type 2, on the other hand, is usually caused by chronic obesity. Over time, our body becomes less sensitive to the insulin we make and therefore stops managing sugar and carbohydrates appropriately.
Diabetes Risk Factors and Symptoms
Being overweight is the most common risk factor for diabetes. While there is a genetic component to being predisposed to developing diabetes, if your body mass index (BMI) is over 30, you have a greater risk of developing this chronic illness.
On a day-to-day basis, diabetics face symptoms like frequent urination, frequent thirst and fatigue. Chronic diabetes can also can affect other organs, increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke, damage to the kidneys, nervous system, eyesight and the ability to circulate blood.
Preventative Care for Type 2 Diabetes
If you develop type 2 diabetes, it usually means you are not eating properly, exercising enough or both. The best approach to limiting how this disease affects your life is to work with your physician to develop an exercise plan of about 150 minutes of activity each week to help your body respond properly to the insulin it’s making.
The focus of this exercise should not be on intensity, but rather increasing the amount of movement in your daily life. You may also want to limit sugar, processed food, certain carbohydrates and alcohol. The changes shouldn’t be overwhelming or drastic. Don’t focus on what you can’t eat or on making your workouts grueling; instead think of small daily choices that can add up to an improved lifestyle.
Despite the growing population of Americans who suffer from diabetes, it is not an inevitable diagnosis. While there’s nothing you can do to completely eliminate your risk for developing diabetes, there are certain steps you can take to be more proactive about your long-term health including partnering with a health coach.