Over 25 million Americans have diabetes. The most common form is Type 2 diabetes. It can cause heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, blindness, dental disease, amputations and other serious health issues. The good news is that most people can avoid Type 2 diabetes by eating healthy and staying active. It’s also important to know your risk for diabetes.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) identifies several groups who are at higher risk of getting Type 2 diabetes:
Those who are overweight
African Americans, Alaska Natives, American Indians, Asian Americans, Hispanics and Pacific Islander Americans
Women with a history of high blood sugar during pregnancy (also known as gestational diabetes)
Those aged 60 and older
Control blood sugar before it controls you
The NIH recommends that everyone older than 45 have a blood sugar test at least every three years. Those in a high-risk group should have the test more often, and starting at a younger age.
To reach healthy levels:
Carefully consider the food you eat. Be sure to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats and low-fat dairy products as part of your regular diet.
Remember to control your portions.
Get some kind of physical exercise for 30 to 60 minutes a day.
Spend less time sitting.
Do strength-training exercises a couple times a week, like lifting weights or doing sit-ups.
Stay at a healthy weight.
If your doctor prescribes you medicine, closely follow the instructions for taking it.
Finally, if you smoke, quit. Get help if you can’t do it alone.
Studies show that weight loss through diet changes and physical activity can delay or prevent Type 2 diabetes. And the benefits happen right away. Each pound you lose slows the progress of Type 2 diabetes.
Superfoods for fighting diabetes
When it comes to preventing Type 2 diabetes, not all foods are created equally. A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found three fruits that offer the best protection: blueberries, grapes and apples. The study shows that people who ate at least two servings of these fruits each week lowered their risk by as much as 23%. That’s compared to those who ate less than one serving per month. On the other hand, those who drank one or more servings of fruit juice each day raised their risk as much as 21%.
Start small – just start
The American Diabetes Association offers good advice for lowering your risk: Start small and go one step at a time. “Think of each small step as one piece of your effort to change your habits. Making changes one step at a time gives you the best chance to reach and stay at a healthy weight and prevent Type 2 diabetes.”
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