Preventing Diabetes - Know Your Risk

Protect yourself, maintain a healthy weight, exercise, and eat right

If you like to follow the latest trends, here’s one you should skip: More Americans are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This serious disease already affects nearly 26 million people in the U.S. Fortunately, you can do a lot to protect yourself. Hear more, play audio

Are you at risk for diabetes?
Along with being overweight, other risk factors for developing diabetes include high blood pressure, low HDL (high-density lipids, or the “good” cholesterol), a family history of diabetes, and a history of gestational diabetes. Take this test to learn your risk.

Achieve a healthier weight
“Studies show losing just five to 10 percent of your body weight decreases your risk of diabetes by 52 to 58 percent,” according to Marilyn Emery, diabetes educator, Spectrum Health Lakeland. Two ways to lose this extra weight are through exercise and healthier eating.

Get moving!
You don’t have to train for a marathon to gain the benefits of exercise: Marilyn recommends 30 minutes a day, five days a week. If you’re new to exercising, start out slowly and gradually increase your duration and intensity. “Finding an activity that’s fun will make it easier for you to stick to a program and will help the time go by more quickly,” Marilyn said. One of the best forms of exercise is walking – keep things interesting by walking at malls, schools, beaches, or riverfront trails.

Change your food point of view
The second way to decrease body weight is through healthy meal plans. “Incorporate a large variety of whole grains and veggies,” Marilyn recommends. “Concentrate on healthy, monounsaturated fats like those found in avocados, olive oil, and nuts. Try to avoid the trans fat found in a lot of prepackaged and processed foods.” Portion control is important, too.

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