Diabetes affects 37.3 million people in the US, and 96 million people aged 18 years or older are prediabetic, according to The National Diabetes Statistics Reports. In addition, prediabetes and diabetes are significant health concerns for those who are overweight, obese, or live an unhealthy lifestyle. This article will outline diabetes awareness, prevention, and how to reverse your type 2 diabetes through weight loss and healthy lifestyle changes.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. In a healthy body, most food you eat is broken down into sugar (glucose) and released into your bloodstream. When blood sugar increases, it signals the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin lets the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy.
With diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it as well as it should. Without proper insulin production, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream. Over time, too much sugar in your bloodstream can cause heart disease, vision loss, kidney disease, and other serious health problems.
Type 1 Diabetes
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 5-10% of people with diabetes have type 1. It’s thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction that stops your body from making insulin. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults as symptoms develop quickly at a young age. Type 1 diabetics need to take insulin every day to survive.
Type 2 Diabetes
Most people affected by diabetes, about 90-95%, have type 2 diabetes. It’s usually diagnosed in adults as it develops over time. A poor diet high in sugars, processed foods, high glycemic foods, and a sedentary lifestyle can cause type 2 diabetes. With type 2, your body doesn’t use insulin well and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels. Symptoms typically include increased thirst, frequent urination, frequent hunger, blurred vision, numbness, and tingling in hands and feet, but sometimes symptoms go unnoticed. Although it can be a scary diagnosis, type 2 diabetes can be prevented and even reversed. It’s not something you have to live with forever.
Prediabetes affects 96 million adults in the US, and most people are unaware that they are prediabetic. Prediabetics will have higher than normal blood sugar levels but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2. If you have prediabetes, you are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Starting a healthy diet and weight loss plan can help prevent diabetes from developing further.
Preventing & Reversing Diabetes
Preventing and reversing type 2 diabetes and prediabetes is possible with a few lifestyle changes. Most of those affected by diabetes are type 2 or at risk for developing type 2, so it’s helpful to follow these tips to prevent your risk of diabetes.
Lose the extra weight.
If you are overweight or obese, losing weight will decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and can even help you reverse your diagnosis if you currently have type 2. Working with a weight loss counselor will help you lose weight in a safe and healthy way and allows you to build the tools necessary to keep the weight off. Aim for a healthy weight loss of one to two pounds per week. You can achieve this by adding in healthy foods, cutting out sugars and processed foods and beverages, and limiting your intake of red meat by swapping it out with lean proteins, like chicken or fish.
Add physical activity.
Exercise is a great way to assist you in your weight loss and can also lower your blood sugar and boost your sensitivity to insulin, which helps keep your blood sugar within a normal range. For example, if you sit at a desk all day for work, try setting a timer every thirty minutes to stand up, walk around, or do light activity for a few minutes to break up how long you are sedentary. If you are new to exercise, start by adding daily steps and slowly adding more activity. Remember, being active can be outside of a typical gym setting. Playing a game of pick-up basketball, rock climbing, dancing, biking outdoors, and Pilates are all great ways to get physical. Find an activity that you enjoy and look forward to doing!
Incorporate plant foods.
Plants contain many vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly and are also fiber-rich. Fibrous foods promote weight loss and lower the risk of diabetes. Some fiber-rich foods to incorporate into your diet include low glycemic fruit like tomatoes and peppers; non-starchy vegetables, such as leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower; legumes, such as lentils and chickpeas; and whole grains, such as whole-grain rice, whole-grain pasta, whole oats, and quinoa.
Don’t fear fat.
Fats get a bad reputation, but there are healthy fats to include in your diet that have many health benefits. The “good” fat, unsaturated fat, include foods such as olive, sunflower, and avocado oils; nuts and seeds, like almonds, walnuts, flaxseed, and pumpkin seeds; and fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, and cod. These unsaturated fats promote healthy cholesterol levels and good heart and vascular health. The “bad” fat, or saturated fat, is mainly found in animal products such as dairy and meat. Therefore, it’s best to limit your intake of these fat sources and focus on adding more unsaturated fats to your diet.
Ditch the “quick-fix” mentality.
Ultimately, you want to eat healthier, lose weight, and keep the weight off for good. A “quick-fix” diet fad is short-term and usually leads to more weight gain. Instead, focus on making small dietary changes, incorporating healthy habits, and increasing physical activity daily. These small daily changes lead to a more significant change. Learning to live a healthy lifestyle will keep your body performing at its best and will help prevent your risk of diabetes or will reverse your diagnosis entirely.
Preventing diabetes starts with awareness of the disease. This month for National Diabetes Awareness Month, help educate yourself and others on how to prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. The majority of Americans diagnosed with diabetes are type 2, and many don’t know that this disease is completely preventable and reversible through diet and lifestyle changes.
At Options Medical Weight Loss, we are here to help! We have seen patients who are prediabetic or are currently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Our many diet programs are designed to help you lose weight, prevent and reverse diet-related disease, and help you keep the weight off for good. With one-on-one counseling, you’ll learn the tools necessary to make healthier choices and change your life! Don’t let a preventable and reversible disease stop you from living your best life. To learn more, reach out for a free consultation with one of our weight loss clinics.