November is National Diabetes Month, a month dedicated to bringing attention to diabetes and its effects on millions of Americans. Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is an important source of fuel for the body and comes from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps the glucose get into your cells to be used for energy. However, sometimes the body doesn’t make enough — or any — insulin in those with diabetes, resulting in the glucose staying in the blood and not reaching the cells.
Having too much glucose in one’s blood can cause many health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, nerve and kidney damage, eye damage, and much more.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and accounts for roughly 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes in adults. According to Michael Greger M.D. of NutritionFacts, “insulin resistance is the cause of both prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.” Insulin resistance, simply put, is the loss of potency or functionality of insulin. Insulin resistance occurs when there is an accumulation of fat within our vital organs and muscle cells. This fat is toxic to our organs and muscles and interferes with the action of insulin.
Consequently, excess body fat can lead to more and more insulin production in an attempt to control blood sugar. However, increasing insulin levels interfere with normal metabolism. Excess insulin decreases fat burning while at the same time increases fat production and storage. Eventually, our body is not able to maintain enough insulin production, and the blood sugar rises, and pre-diabetes and ultimately type 2 diabetes occur.
Both prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are increasingly prevalent but also largely preventable. While there are certain factors we can’t change, such as our genes, age or past behaviors, there are many actions one can take to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Many risk factors include lifestyle decisions that one can reduce or even cut out entirely with time and effort. Significant risk factors include:
- Older age
- Family history
- Excess weight, particularly around the waist
- Physical inactivity
- Poor diet
How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Both type 2 diabetes and its side effects can often be prevented through lifestyle changes. Regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight are the two most effective methods to prevent developing type 2 diabetes.
Regular physical activity has many benefits, such as controlling weight, lowering blood pressure, raising healthy HDL or good cholesterol, strengthening muscles and bones, reducing anxiety and improving overall general well-being. If you have diabetes, being active makes your body more sensitive to insulin, which helps manage your diabetes.
The CDC recommends individuals get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity. A great way to achieve this is by fitting in at least 20-25 minutes of activity every day. This can include going on walks, bicycling, mowing the lawn, playing sports, and even doing housework.
Develop a healthy diet
When you’re managing diabetes and prediabetes, your diet is a powerful tool. Eating sugary foods and refined carbs can put at-risk individuals on track to developing diabetes. Healthy eating habits can help keep one’s blood sugar in the target range. Healthy diabetic eating includes:
- Limiting foods high in sugar and refined carbs
- Avoid sweetened beverages and fruit juices
- Eating smaller portions
- Eating a variety of whole-grain foods, fruits and vegetables
- Eating less fat
- Using less salt
- Limiting alcohol use
At CardioMender, MD (CMMD), we understand that type 2 diabetes can be reversed not only with an extremely low-calorie diet but also with an extremely healthy diet. A study showed that subjects lost as much weight on a green, vegetable-packed, plant-based diet as those who were on a semi-starvation diet based on liquid meal replacements. It appeared that not only did the individuals lose weight, but they also improved their diabetes.
Water is the most natural beverage you can consume, and it contains no carbohydrates or calories, making it a perfect drink for those seeking a healthy lifestyle. Sugary beverages like soda and fruit juices have been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that those who consume sugary drinks regularly have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely have such drinks.
People with diabetes require more fluid when blood glucose levels are high. This can lead to the kidneys attempting to excrete excess sugar through urine. Drinking water can help enable more glucose to be flushed out of the blood and will not raise blood glucose levels like other beverages will.
Get Help Today!
Weight loss is a common recommendation and an important part of the treatment for type 2 diabetes. Many individuals are overweight or obese when they’re first diagnosed. By losing weight and keeping it off, people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes can become less insulin resistant and are able to use insulin better.
At CMMD, we can help lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, we are frequently successful in helping our patients reverse these conditions and reduce and or eliminate the need to take diabetes medications altogether. We are able to accomplish this through comprehensive nutritional and behavioral education and support and fitness education.