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Focus on Diabetes – Preventing a Killer

 

Diabetes Type 2 – formerly called “adult-onset diabetes” – is reaching epidemic proportions in the United States.

People previously thought they were immune because they had no family history or were athletes in high school. Now they are finding themselves battling a disease that is one of the leading causes of premature death and disability in the United States.

November is National Diabetes Month, but it’s important to take steps year-round to manage this disease and its impact on millions of Americans. With diabetes, the body cannot properly control the amount of sugar in the blood because it does not have enough insulin

In 2012, 29.1 million Americans had diabetes while 86 million age 20 or older had pre-diabetes, according to the National Diabetes Statistics Report: Estimates of Diabetes and Its Burden in the United States, 2014, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Moreover, a study published in 2015 by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that nearly 50 percent of adults in the United States either have diabetes or pre-diabetes, a condition in which elevated blood sugar levels already exist, making it highly likely that diabetes will follow.

Diabetes can slowly lead to death if not properly treated and prevented.  People with a family history of diabetes, are overweight and have a sedentary lifestyle have the highest risk for developing diabetes and prediabetes.

We are now seeing individuals in their early twenties – as well as thin people – with full-blown diabetes.

Diabetes and its co-existing conditions can lead to premature death and disability. Diabetes is strongly associated with serious medical conditions that include heart disease, hypertension, sudden death, blindness, limb amputations, kidney disease, and strokes.

It is becoming more and more common to see an individual in their late 40s who is blind with limb amputations and is on kidney dialysis.

No question, diabetes is one of the No. 1 health problems in the 21st century. But as easy it is to develop diabetes, with a little work and the right attitude it is easily preventable.

Diet and exercise are the mainstays of prevention and treatment of diabetes. Any diet that promotes weight loss will work, but a diet that is slow and gradual will allow the individual to adopt lifelong changes that are necessary to carry this prevention mindset late into life.

First, it is important to start with a healthy diet and avoid processed and simple carbohydrates – such as donuts, bagels, white breads, chips and sugary drinks. A healthy eating plan should include whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins such as eggs, chicken, fish, lean red meats. Some healthy fats should be part of this diet but kept to a minimum.

To promote slow, steady weight loss, it is important to take in about 200 – 400 calories less than your daily needs.

Second, move more. It is important to engage in exercise or physical activity that is of moderate intensity for 30 minutes a day, five days per week. Exercise provides many benefits for a healthy lifestyle, including making the insulin system much more efficient and resistant to decay as seen in diabetic patients. Insulin is the hormone that closely regulates the body’s sugar levels and when finely tuned; as in a person who exercises regularly, can handle rises in sugar levels and keep them in a normal range.

Whether it is walking, jogging, cycling or any other aerobic activity make it count.

Simple lifestyle changes can prevent a disease that can take a tremendous toll – emotionally, physically, and financially. Make these changes now to prevent a killer disease.

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