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Type 2 Diabetes: The Epidemic

Decrease Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

by Arlene Dalcin, RD

Decrease Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes
by Arlene Dalcin

My son has a friend who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 11 years old. Although "D," my son's friend, is very thin, his body has stopped manufacturing insulin, the hormone necessary to remove glucose from the blood stream. "D" didn't do anything that caused him to get the disease; he is just one of the unlucky 5 percent to10 percent of Americans with diabetes who require injections of insulin or an insulin pump to regulate their blood sugar levels.

People with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes still have the ability to make insulin, but their cells have become resistant to the action of the hormone, and so the pancreas is unable to make enough insulin to overcome this resistance. So the glucose, instead of moving into cells, builds up in the bloodstream. This can be very dangerous and requires a lifestyle change, or medication, or both.

Listed below are lifestyle choices that can decrease your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

  • Maintain a normal weight. The more body fat you have, the more resistant to insulin your cells will become.
  • If you are overweight, decreasing your weight by as little as 5 percent will reduce your risk of developing diabetes. For a 200-pound person, that's a loss of only 10 pounds.
  • Because regular physical activity improves your body's response to insulin, exercise could also help decrease your risk.
  • Eat a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, while consuming only limited amounts of saturated fat.
  • Even though eating sugar doesn't cause diabetes directly, experts still recommend limiting your intake of added sugars, sweets, and sodas to an amount equal to no more than 150 calories per day.
  • Minimize your intake of refined foods as well; choose whole-grains products, which will decrease the glycemic (sugar-raising) load of your meals.

This year, as Thanksgiving approaches, if you must have dessert, choose wisely. Pick your favorite, but take a smaller portion than usual.

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