If you still have Halloween candy in the house it might be a good time to throw it away. November is American Diabetes Month, a good reminder of the ever-growing disease and importance of lifestyle habits to reduce your risk.
86 million people in the United States are at risk for developing diabetes and nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States already have diabetes. The American Diabetes Association predicts 1 in 3 Americans will have diabetes by 2050 unless we take steps to stop the disease.
Diabetes is a problem where blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is higher than normal. Over time high blood sugar can damage your eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart. Having diabetes nearly doubles the risk of heart attack, is the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults, and is the leading cause of kidney failure.
Your risk for prediabetes and diabetes increases if you are over 45 years of age, are overweight, are physically inactive, have a family history of diabetes, are African American, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander, have PCOS, have low HDL cholesterol and/or high triglycerides, have high blood pressure, or had gestational diabetes.
Fortunately you can prevent or delay diabetes! You can also prevent diabetic complications if you already have the disease! One of the largest risk factors for type 2 diabetes is being overweight. The best possible way to reduce risk is by losing at least 7% of your weight and maintaining a healthy weight for your height. The second best way to reduce your risk is by exercising 150 minutes each week (30 minutes 5 days a week). People who cut calories and exercise regularly can reduce the progression of prediabetes to diabetes by 58%.
Diets high in saturated fat have been linked to diabetes. Work on reducing your saturated fat intake by limiting cheese, butter, red meat, processed meat, ice cream, baked goods, fried foods, etc.
Drinking sugary drinks can increase your diabetes risk. A study published in 2008 following 187,382 participants found those who ate whole fruit regularly had a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. Those who consumed 4 ounces or more of fruit juice daily increased their risk of type 2 diabetes as much as 21%.
Skipping breakfast and fasting until noon can also have a major impact on your blood sugar and impair insulin response for the rest of the day. Eating regular healthy meals is important in managing blood sugar levels.
The type and amount of carbohydrates you eat can affect how quickly blood sugar rises. It is not recommended to avoid carbohydrates entirely, in fact people who consume 3 whole grain servings daily are one-third less likely to develop diabetes. Limit sweets to special occasions and eat them in moderation. Replace refined carbohydrates such as white bread and white rice with complex carbohydrates such as whole grain bread and brown rice. Replace heavily processed foods such as pretzels, crackers, and French fries with minimally processed foods such as carrot sticks, almonds, and baked sweet potatoes.
Be proactive in reducing your diabetes risk. Talk to your doctor and registered dietitian about your eating habits and ways to reduce your risk this month.