Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common form of diabetes in adults. This occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or the insulin does not work well at moving glucose (a type of sugar) from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. There is an epidemic of type 2 diabetes in the United States, largely due to diet and sedentary lifestyle. Obesity is the most common reason for a person to develop this form of diabetes and its associated health risks which include heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage and amputation, to name a few.
Listed below are some strategies to decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes:
- Maintain a healthy weight – If you are overweight, lose 1/2 to 2 pounds a week. Losing weight faster than this greatly increases the odds of gaining it right back, and then some. Even 5 pounds of weight loss can make your body more sensitive to insulin, which drops your blood sugar to a safer level. If you are having difficulty with weight loss, read here for additional information that may be helpful.
- Eat properly – This means 3 meals a day, or better yet, 4 to 5 smaller meals every 3 hours or so throughout the day. DO NOT skip breakfast, and avoid a bedtime snack (unless you are taking a diabetes medication). Decrease intake of foods that have a high glycemic index (sugary foods, white bread, white rice, potatoes, soda, pasta, chips, cookies, juice, etc.) and increase protein rich foods such as meats and beans and complex carbohydrates including whole grain breads, fruits and vegetables. And don’t forget portion control.
- Exercise – This helps control body weight and improves the efficiency of insulin. Shoot for at least 30 minutes a day, more frequently if possible. Longer exercise (such as 45 to 60 minutes per session) helps with weight loss. Exercise does not need to be intense to be beneficial…simply walking a little faster than a casual stroll can control as well as prevent diabetes.
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