"You are the center of your diabetes care team" is the theme this year for National Diabetes Month, which is observed every November to bring awareness to the disease and its impact on millions of Americans. It is estimated that 1 in 11 Americans has diabetes and the CDC states that 1 in 3 people have pre-diabetes.
This year's theme highlights the importance of taking personal responsibility for your health. Though doctor's, diabetes educators, and dietitians may help you manage your illness, it is up to you to take charge of your health on a daily basis.
Taking charge of your health is important if you have diabetes, but it is also an important part of preventing, or delaying the onset of, diabetes. As our nation experiences increasing rates of obesity/overweight, more and more people are suffering from chronic disease, including Type II diabetes.
Though genetics, age, and family history play a role in the development of diabetes, lifestyle factors also contribute to your risk. Genetics may increase your risk, but it does not mean you are certainly going to develop the disease. By taking care of your body and making healthy lifestyle choices, you can reduce your risk of developing the disease.
Diet and exercise play critical roles in the prevention of
Type II diabetes. Some research suggests that a
sedentary lifestyle is linked to a 90% increase in the
risk of developing the disease.
Unfortunately, only about 20% of our adult population
meet the recommended physical activity guidelines. Adding physical activity and exercise to your daily schedule is an important part of preventing Type II diabetes. Current guidelines recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week; along with 2-3 sessions of resistance training. If you have been living a sedentary lifestyle,
meeting these guidelines should be your goal.
Adding in exercise can be a daunting task for someone
who has been sedentary. Aerobic exercise allows your body to better utilize insulin. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by the numbers, simply beginning a walking program is a great place to start. If you are out of shape and find 30 minutes of aerobic exercise to be difficult and physically exhausting, aim for incorporating three 10-minute walks per day and slowly increase the duration of each session.
Strength training can lower your blood glucose levels and should be performed 2-3 days per week to gain health benefits. Strength training involves the use of weights or other forms of resistance. Health clubs and gyms offer a variety of equipment, but many options are available which would allow you to workout in your home or office. A personal trainer can design a program to help you meet your goals.
Nutrition also plays a critical role in the prevention, and/or management of Type II diabetes. More and more people are relying on restaurant meals, take-out and packaged, processed foods as the foundation of their diet. Unfortunately, these foods are often high in fat, sugar and sodium. Excess sugars and fats can lead to weight gain, which increases the risk of developing Type II diabetes. Reducing added fats and sugar, and replacing those items with nutrient-dense foods, can lower your risk.
The American Diabetes Association offers a Create Your Plate tool that can help you design healthier meals. For more guidance, consider speaking to a Nutrition Coach to help you make sense of macronutrients and portion sizes, and teach you how to plan and prepare healthy, delicious meals.
Just a few changes can lead to big results.
1. Add physical activity and exercise to your day
2. Reduce fat and sugar intake
3. Add nutrient-dense foods to your diet
4. Start Today!
Better Health, Better Life, Better You!