How to Reduce Your Risk of Type II Diabetes.
For the 30.3 million Americans living with Diabetes, November is more than a time for awareness. It is a time for hope—hope that researchers will one day find a cure to this painful and dangerous condition. This month, take the time to better understand the signs and symptoms of this chronic disease and your risk factors. With proper lifestyle choices, you may be able to reduce your risk of developing Type II Diabetes.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes, or Diabetes Mellitus, is a disease that occurs when one has too much blood glucose (blood sugar) in the body. We obtain blood glucose from the foods we eat and use it as our primary source of energy. In a healthy body, insulin made by the pancreas helps with this energy transformation process. When the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, glucose remains in the blood, never reaching cells or being converted into energy. When too much glucose stays in the blood, it can cause health complications.
What is the Difference Between Type I and Type II Diabetes?
A person with Type I Diabetes does not produce any insulin. The immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s healthy cells, destroying insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells, which prohibits the body from producing insulin.
A person why Type II Diabetes does not produce enough insulin and is unable to use it effectively, a condition that is known as being insulin resistant. Lifestyle factors can contribute to the development of Type II Diabetes, including excessive weight gain and inactivity.
What are the Symptoms of Diabetes?
Symptoms of both Types I and II Diabetes include:
- Feeling excessively thirsty, resulting in significant water intake
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Blurred vision
- Sores or cuts that are slow to heal
Also, patients with Type I Diabetes may experience rapid mood changes, irritability, and weight loss, while patients with Type II Diabetes may experience sensations of numbness and tingling in their extremities.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Type II Diabetes
You can mitigate your chances of developing Type II Diabetes by making healthy lifestyle choices, including the following:
- Manage Your Weight. Individuals who carry excess body fat, especially if stored in the midsection, are at risk of developing insulin resistance.
- Balance Your Diet. Part of managing your weight should include eating a balanced diet full of healthy grains, lean proteins, hearty vegetables, and fruits. Also, reduce your intake of sodium by lowering your consumption of fried or processed foods and not adding excess salt to your meals.
- Exercise Regularly. Aim for at least 30-minutes of activity that raises your heart rate at least three times per week. Talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen.
- Quit Smoking. People who smoke are twice as likely to develop Diabetes as non-smokers.
- Moderate Alcohol Intake. Too much alcohol can result in weight gain, which could boost your blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Men should not exceed two drinks in a day, and women should not exceed one.
- Talk to Your Doctor. Make sure you are visiting your primary care physician as appropriate based on your age and other health factors. Be honest with him or her about your lifestyle habits, and if anyone in your immediate family has Type I or Type II Diabetes. If your physician determines that you may be at risk, together, you can create a sustainable plan to address risky lifestyle factors and help you prevent the development of this chronic, complex disease.