One of the best health strategies is to prevent illness before it happens, especially when it comes to type 2 diabetes. While our genetics are hard wired, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
Before type 2 diabetes is diagnosed, there’s a period called prediabetes, when blood sugar levels are elevated but not high enough to be considered diabetes. Without action, prediabetes often becomes type 2 diabetes within five years. In fact, up to 70 percent of people with prediabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes.
Uncontrolled diabetes can cause blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and other serious conditions. But, progressing from prediabetes to diabetes isn’t inevitable. Enter Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center’s (YRMC’s) five steps to prevent diabetes.
- Eat a healthy diet with lots of vegetables
Green vegetables – leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower), and others – are important foods for diabetes prevention. Non-starchy vegetables like mushrooms, onions, garlic, eggplant and peppers are also well-known diabetes fighters.
What else should you include in your diabetes-prevention diet?
- Beans, lentils and other legumes
- Seeds and nuts
- Fresh fruits
Dignity Health, YRMC’s online cooking show, Your Healthy Kitchen, has excellent cooking videos and tasty recipes that help prevent diabetes. Check it out at YRMCHealthConnect.org.
- Exercise regularly
Get active to prevent diabetes. Exercise lowers your blood glucose, blood pressure and does a world of good for your health. So while you’re exercising to reduce your risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, you’ll also lower your chance for heart disease and stroke. And, you’ll build stronger bones.
- Continuous activity during the day—walk to lunch, take the stairs, keep moving
- Aerobic exercise, like brisk walking or swimming laps
- Strength training, such as lifting light weights
- Stretching and flexibility exercises
Check out the fitness classes – SilverSneakers®, Silver&Fit®, Renew Active™ and Fitness Plus – available through YRMC’s Preventive Medicine and Wellness program. For information, visit DignityHealth.org/YRMC or contact us at the Pendleton Center in Prescott at (928) 771-5794 or Prescott Valley at (928) 759-5920.
- Drink water
Sticking with water as your primary beverage helps you avoid soda, which is high in sugar, preservatives and other questionable ingredients. Water also won’t pack on the pounds, like soda and most anything that includes the words “latte” or “frappe.”
- Lose those extra pounds
Nine of 10 people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are overweight or are considered obese. Carrying extra weight – particularly in the abdominal area – increases your chances of developing diabetes and heart disease.
The good news? Losing weight may significantly reduce your risk of diabetes. If you have prediabetes, or you are newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, decreasing your weight by about 10 percent can reverse your diabetes. For many people that can mean no more than a 10 or 15 pound weight loss, which can be achieved by following numbers 1, 2 and 3 on this list.
- Quit smoking
You knew it was going to find its way on this list. Yes, people who smoke are 30 to 40 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, people with diabetes who smoke are more likely to have difficulty controlling their disease.
Ready to quit smoking? Learn about free programs offered by the Arizona Smokers’ Helpline online at AZDHS.org/ashline or by calling 1-800-556-6222.
There are other benefits linked to following these five diabetes prevention steps. You’ll reduce your chances for developing heart disease and lung cancer, enhance your overall health, increase your energy and build your strength. That’s five steps with countless health benefits.
Submitted by Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center