7 Ways You Can Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
By the year 2050, an estimated 1 in 3 Americans will have Type 2 diabetes. Currently, 1 in 10 adults currently has diabetes, and as the population ages, officials from the Centers for Disease Control predict these numbers will increase dramatically in the next 40 years. This makes diabetes prevention absolutely crucial, and many Americans even wonder, can Type 2 diabetes be reversed?
This problem isn’t limited to the United States. The World Health Organization states that 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, and the disease is particularly prevalent in low and middle-income countries.
Diabetes Prevention: 7 Ways You Can Prevent Diabetes
The key to diabetes prevention typically involves living a healthier lifestyle. But beyond that, many Americans aren’t aware of the specifics of diabetes prevention. We’ve outlined a few of the ways to prevent diabetes here:
Eat a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables. Our registered dietitian, Nicole Matala, will be happy to provide an individualized health plan for you, including nutritional guidelines.
If you’re overweight or obese, try to lose at least 5 to 10 percent of your current weight. This can make a huge difference.
Don’t gain back weight you have lost. It’s all too easy to slip back into unhealthy habits, and Nicole Matala will be happy to work with you to ensure you stay on track after your healthy start.
If you smoke, you must quit. Smoking can contribute to insulin resistance, which in turn leads to Type 2 diabetes. If you’re a smoker, schedule an appointment with us, and we’ll provide a helpful plan and list of resources to help you quit.
Have your blood checked regularly as a part of your annual checkup. Often, prediabetes has no symptoms, so it’s important to ensure that your fasting blood sugar maintains a healthy level.
Get regular exercise. We suggest getting 30 minutes of activity per day during the week. However, if you don’t feel like you’re able to start at that level, please talk to us. We can create a schedule to help you build up to a stronger body and get your activity level where it should be.
Know your family history. If someone in your family has diabetes, you could be at greater risk of developing it. While there’s nothing you can do about your genes, having this knowledge will help you start taking preventative measures, now, instead of waiting until it’s too late.
Can Type 2 Diabetes Be Reversed?
The answer is not that simple.
Once someone is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, can this be “reversed,” essentially making a person a non-diabetic? The answer is not clear. While research is ongoing, there is not enough evidence to provide a road map for reversing Type 2 diabetes. However, there are a few things that are clear:
A healthy diet and regular exercise can help those with type 2 diabetes better manage their blood sugar levels. As a result, they may need to use less medication, but this is not a complete 100 percent “reversal” of the disease.
Prediabetes can be reversed, and it is much easier to prevent Type 2 diabetes than to try to “reverse” the illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control, without significant lifestyle changes, 15 to 30 percent of those with prediabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes. This clearly illustrates the importance of diabetes prevention.
Type 2 diabetes is not caused by any one factor. While a poor diet, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle all increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, there are also genetic risk factors for the disease. These risk factors include family history and ethnicity. Those with family members who have type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop it, as are those who are of African-American or Latino ethnicity.
The bottom line: Diabetes is a serious illness that, while there is no cure, can be managed. Regular blood sugar monitoring should be a part of an annual physical. Any of our physicians will be happy to discuss any concerns or questions you may have about diabetes and diabetes management.
Surprising Facts About Diabetes
It isn’t just prevalent in America.
While news headlines declare that Americans are as unhealthy as ever, Type 2 diabetes is not just occurring in record numbers in the United States. According to the World Health Organization, the prevalence of obesity and sedentary lifestyles has made Type 2 diabetes a worldwide epidemic.
Death from diabetes isn’t limited to impoverished countries.
Total deaths from diabetes are projected to rise by more than 80 percent in the next ten years in upper- and middle- income countries.
Type 2 is prevalent.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes–accounting for 90 percent of all cases worldwide.
Numbers are spiking.
In the past 32 years, the number of Americans with diabetes has quadrupled. Roughly 1.7 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed each year. If the current trends continue, 1 out of every 3 adults will have diabetes by the year 2050.
The good news is, if caught early enough, Type 2 diabetes can be managed successfully. Even better, we can help you prevent diabetes through a health care plan tailored just for you.
What Are the Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes?
If you find you’re always thirsty, going to the bathroom a lot, and you have blurred vision, you should schedule an appointment with us. These are some of the classic symptoms of Type 2 diabetes. In addition, those with Type 2 diabetes may experience fatigue.
Could You Have Diabetes and Not Know It?
Surprisingly, yes, you can have diabetes and be completely unaware of it. This is the truth for millions of Americans. The International Diabetes Federation estimates that 187 million people worldwide do not know that they have diabetes.
How could so many people be unaware that they have diabetes? We have been asked that many times. Patients may be surprised to learn that they have diabetes even though they “feel fine,” and they may have no family history of diabetes. Many symptoms of diabetes are easily overlooked or often dismissed as harmless when they should be examined closely. Early treatment of diabetes can help patients avoid some serious complications, which can include blindness and even foot amputation.
Symptoms of diabetes include:
- Extreme thirst.
- Cuts or bruises that heal slowly.
- Urinating often.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Weight loss despite eating more.
- Pain, numbness, or a tingling sensation in hands and feet.
While these symptoms are typical, some with Type 2 diabetes may have symptoms that are so mild that they are virtually unnoticed. This is why it is important to have regular blood work completed as part of an annual physical. Speak with your physician about your fasting blood sugar levels and discuss any symptoms or problems you may be having. According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 79 million Americans have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes . . . don’t you think it is important to know if you are one of them?
Are You at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes?
Millions of Americans are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. If you find yourself in one of these categories, you should schedule an appointment with one of our internal medicine physicians who can help you with diabetes prevention.
Risk factors include:
- Having prediabetes—in this condition, your blood sugar is not high enough to be considered diabetic but it is higher than normal.
- Being overweight or obese. (If you’re not sure, you can calculate your Body Mass Index for the answer.)
- A family history of diabetes.
- Having high blood pressure.
- Having a low level of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol).
- Having high triglycerides (the amount of sugar in the bloodstream).
- Leading a sedentary or inactive lifestyle.
- Having a history of heart disease.
- Having had a stroke.
- Having depression.
In addition, women who have had gestational diabetes, who have had a baby weighing more than 9 pounds or who have had polycystic ovary syndrome are at higher risk.
What Is the Difference Between Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes?
Those with prediabetes have blood sugar levels higher than normal (an A1C level of 5.7% to 6.4% or a fasting blood sugar level of 100 to 125), but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Those with type 2 diabetes have a fasting blood sugar level of 126 or higher or an A1C level of 6.5% or higher.
Tips for Keeping Your Blood Sugar Under Control
If you’re prediabetic, it’s vital to keep your blood sugar under control for diabetes prevention. If you are diabetic, maintaining a healthy blood sugar is vital to your overall health and to help you avoid complications.
Following are some useful tips for keeping your blood sugar under control:
Establish a regular exercise regimen. We enjoy helping patients outline exercise and fitness goals because it demonstrates that they want to take an active part in their health care. The frequency and time of day of exercise can have an impact on blood sugar.
Incorporate foods into your diet that have a low glycemic index (GI). These foods provide nutrients such as calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium and vitamins A, C, and E. What are these foods? Dark green, leafy vegetables (such as kale and spinach) that are low in calories and carbohydrates, citrus fruits, nuts, berries, and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids. Beans are also another healthy consideration—while beans are considered starchy vegetables, they provide a good dose of protein with less saturated fat than meat. Your blood pressure and lipids will have to be monitored on a regular basis. To keep these parameters in strict control per ADA guidelines, you may require medication.
Planning ahead can help you avoid last-minute unhealthy menu choices or meals high in carbohydrates that can cause problems with blood sugar levels. When traveling, remember that if you are crossing several time zones, your body may need time to adjust to the change. We encourage our patients to speak with us about their travel plans so we can answer any questions they may have.
Remember that if you are traveling by plane, you may need to have a letter from a physician explaining that you have diabetes, and need to carry testing supplies and insulin (if you use it) on board. Some countries require visitors to receive specific immunizations, and sometimes these shots can affect blood sugar levels, so we encourage patients to get these shots a month before they travel.
When it comes to keeping blood glucose levels under control, there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. This is why, as physicians, we tailor every health care plan to address specific issues. This is also why those with diabetes should work with their doctors to create an effective, team-based approach toward managing it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control:
- More than 30 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes.
- Often, those with diabetes don’t know they have it.
- Roughly 1 in 4 Americans have diabetes and don’t realize it.
- 1 in 3 Americans have prediabetes, and 90 percent of them aren’t aware of it.
- The estimated cost of diabetes was $327 billion in 2017.
- 84.1 million adults age 18 and over have prediabetes. This is 33.9 percent of the U.S. population.
- 23.1 million adults 65 years old and older have prediabetes.
- 18 percent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes.
Internal Medicine Physicians Are Uniquely Qualified to Treat Type 2 Diabetes
One of the things that differentiate internal medicine physicians from other specialties, is that we take a holistic approach to the whole patient. We not only examine the health and well-being of your body’s system, but we look for how a problem in one part of your body can affect another part. This is one reason why we’re experts at treating those with long-term, chronic health conditions. We’re also well-versed in caring for those with more than one serious health problem.
Would you like to know more about the benefits of internal medicine physicians? Are you concerned about your blood sugar or are you at risk for Type 2 diabetes?
Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
If you’d like to know more about Type 2 diabetes and what you can do to prevent it, check out our previous post How Often Should Diabetics Check Their Blood Sugar?