What is your risk for developing diabetes? It is projected that as many as 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes in 2050 unless we take steps, including making changes in diet and increasing physical activity, to stop it. As you literally turn back your clock this daylight saving, consider how you can delay, halt, or reverse your risk for diabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), 8.3% of the population, that is nearly 26 million children and adults, in the United States have diabetes. Diabetes is characterized by high levels of blood glucose, or sugar. There are three main types of diabetes; type 2 diabetes is the most common form.

In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. This may result in fatigue, thirst, weight loss, blurred vision and frequent urination, but some people have no symptoms. People with diabetes must closely manage blood glucose levels; if diabetes is not managed, it can damage many parts of the body, leading to life threatening complications, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage and amputation. With regular checkups diabetes complications can we prevented or delayed.

Another 79 million Americans have “pre-diabetes” wherein their blood glucose level is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Damage to the body, especially the heart and circulatory system, may already be occurring during pre-diabetes, but, you can have a positive impact on its future course! Research suggests that most cases of diabetes are caused by lifestyle factors.

Help turn back the clock on type 2 diabetes through a healthy lifestyle, including:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. People at risk for type 2 diabetes can prevent or delay the onset of the disease by losing 5 to 7 percent of their body weight, if they are overweight.
  • Eat 20-35 grams of fiber every day to help control blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber, found in foods such as beans, apples and oats, appears to lower blood sugar levels.
  • Spice up your meal. Herbs and spices, such as cinnamon, garlic, cloves and cumin and fenugreek, encourage blood sugar balance. Antioxidants found in cinnamon may help to manage blood sugar and inflammation.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes on 5 or more days of the week. Physical activity can help you control your blood glucose, weight, and blood pressure, as well as raise your “good” cholesterol (HDL) and lower your “bad” cholesterol (LDL).
  • If you smoke or use other types of tobacco, ask your doctor to help you quit. Smoking increases your risk of various diabetes complications.
  • Schedule a yearly physical and participate in wellness screenings at work or in your community. Identifying the signs of a health problem early can help to reduce your risk.

November is American Diabetes Month; take time to learn more about how to prevent and manage this disease by visiting www.diabetes.org.

Sources: American Diabetes Association, Centers for Disease Control, National Diabetes Education Program, National Institutes for Health, LifeWork Strategies and Washington and Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Centers.