• Preventing Type 2 Diabetes with Healthy Lifestyle Choices

    on Apr 19th, 2017

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes with Healthy Lifestyle Choices

You’re likely aware that type 2 diabetes is a major health crisis in our country, affecting an estimated 29 million Americans, including a rapidly growing number of children and adolescents. However, you may not realize that healthy lifestyle habits can prevent this chronic condition in 90% of all cases. Sure, genetics play a role, but only a minor one. What you eat, how active you are, and whether you smoke are far more important factors. A healthy lifestyle also helps manage symptoms and control disease progression for those already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes prevents the body from properly using insulin, the pancreatic hormone that enables cells to absorb glucose, or sugar, from the food we eat and use it as fuel. Instead, dangerous levels of sugar build up in the blood of diabetics. What’s more, type 2 diabetes increases the risk for numerous other serious medical problems, including heart disease, kidney failure, high blood pressure, nerve damage, vision loss, foot issues, and stroke.

As advocates of preventative medicine, we at Florida Family Practice in Tampa and Wesley Chapel, Florida, offer the following tips for preventing and managing type 2 diabetes.

Eat to beat type 2 diabetes

No surprise here. The Mediterranean diet, perennially touted to prevent heart disease and cancer, is also your best defense against type 2 diabetes. That means, on the menu is whole grains, lean portions (poultry and fish), fresh fruits and veggies (especially those leafy greens), nuts, and beans. Off the list: processed grains and processed meats (like hot dogs and bacon), potatoes, and sugar. Also, limit salt and alcohol. A healthy diet is especially crucial in preventing full-blown type 2 diabetes in the 86 million Americans who are borderline diabetic.

Don’t wait to lose weight

Like so many other health conditions, from high blood pressure to osteoarthritis, being overweight or obese is a big – perhaps the biggest –  risk factor when it comes to Type 2 diabetes, especially if you carry extra weight around the abdomen. Some 90% of people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. Dropping even 7-15 pounds reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Trade your tablet for tennis shoes

Exercise alone reduces the risk of diabetes, while excessive screen time may indirectly increase it. A study published in the March issue of the British Journal of Medicine and conducted among 4,500 British children ages 9-10 found that those who spent 3 or more hours a day watching TV, playing video games or parked in front of a computer, were significantly more likely to have increased body fat and be insulin resistant, than those who spent at least 1 hour less on screens per day. Exercise can also help people with type 2 diabetes manage symptoms and avoid such complications as heart disease. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days. Find something you like and stick to it.

Quit Smoking

Smoking is the number 1 cause of all preventable diseases in our country and doubles your chance of becoming diabetic.

Have regular check-ups

Routine physicals are important for everyone, but increasingly so as you age and your risk increases with a number of health conditions, many of which are asymptomatic in their earliest, most treatable stages. This includes type 2 diabetes. Some 25% of adults who have the condition don’t know it, while millions more are unaware that they’re prediabetic.

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