Take Charge: Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

People can live long, healthy lives with diabetes. But, if given the chance, wouldn’t you rather live without a chronic condition, especially one with the potential to cause complications such as heart disease or blindness? Fortunately, the millions of people who are at risk for type 2 diabetes can avoid the condition altogether by taking preventive measures.

It’s Up to You
According to a major study by the Diabetes Prevention Program completed a few years ago, a healthy lifestyle is more effective than medication in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes in people at risk.

Even more encouraging was the study’s finding that just a 7 percent reduction in weight, combined with 30 minutes of exercise five days a week, could lower the risk of developing diabetes by about 58 percent. For someone who weighs 200 pounds, a 7 percent reduction in weight is 14 pounds.

“I like to calculate my patients’ body mass index [BMI] for them and then calculate what it would be if they lost even 5 percent of their body weight,” says Glenn Cunningham, M.D., an endocrinologist and a member of the Endocrine Society. “Then they can see that losing just that amount of weight could put them into a healthier BMI category.”

BMI is a measurement of estimated body fat based on height and weight. It helps provide a guideline for a healthy weight for moderately active people (not athletes) and, according to the Centers for Disease Control, can help predict risk of problems associated with being overweight. Click here to learn your bmi.

Be Honest, Make Changes
Your regular doctor visit for screenings is where you should discuss your weight and take an honest look at whether it is a concern. If you need to drop several pounds, accountability is critical, Cunningham says. He recommends a weight-loss plan that includes weekly monitoring and ongoing support—even if it’s just a friend you weigh in with every week. Also, aim for achievable goals, like losing one-half to one pound per week.

The smartest approach to weight loss is to follow a balanced diet that contains less than 30 percent fat. Replace unhealthy choices, such as fried foods, with more fruits and vegetables, and stick to whole grains and lean meats. Watch your portion sizes, too: A serving of meat is the size of a deck of cards, and a serving of pasta is the size of a tennis ball.

Simply making small changes to your eating habits can help you lose weight, too. For example, saying “no” to sugary soda and fruit juice could cut 100 to 200 calories from your daily diet—enough to add up to a significant weight loss over a year. To speak with a registered dietician about your personalized plan call 678-312-6040 and click here to learn more about the Diabetes & Nutrition Education Center.

Keep Moving
Eating a healthy, sensible diet goes hand-in-hand with exercise—and the more regular the exercise, the better.

“There’s evidence to support the idea that exercising daily, or nearly every day, can help improve blood glucose control better than exercising less regularly,” Cunningham says.
Most experts recommend exercising at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week, and even more if you’re trying to lose weight. But it doesn’t all have to be done at once: 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there—it adds up. In fact, it doesn’t even have to feel like exercise. Changes in your daily pattern, such as using the stairs or getting off the bus 10 blocks early, can make a difference.

Most important, always remember that you can prevent diabetes. “We want people to feel empowered,” Sheehan says, “knowing that they can take charge of their own health.” Need help with improving your exercise routine or just not sure where to start, learn more about the fitness program at Gwinnett SportsRehab or call today to schedule an appointment-678-312-2810.


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