November is Diabetes Awareness Month – a time to focus attention on the issues surrounding diabetes and those who are impacted by the disease.
- Nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes
- 7 million Americans have diabetes and don’t even know it
- Another 86 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes
Since diabetes often shows no symptoms, the condition often goes undiagnosed and untreated until it turns into a life-threatening medical emergency. The good news is that there are five measures you can take to help reduce the chance of getting diabetes – or control the disease if you already have it. These are:
- Eat healthy
Making healthy food choices, eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and cutting back on junk food are some of the most important things you can do to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- Lose weight
Losing weight and keeping it off (even as little as 10 to 15 pounds) can help lower your blood pressure, high blood sugar and unhealthy cholesterol levels – all risk factors for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
- Get active
Physical activity can help relieve stress, strengthen your heart, improve your blood circulation, and keep your blood sugar, blood pressure, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides at healthy levels. So take a walk, go dancing, swim or ride a bike – but get moving!
- Control your blood pressure
The lower your blood pressure, the better your chances of delaying or preventing diabetes and heart disease. High blood pressure can be controlled by changes to your diet and lifestyle, as well as by appropriate medications.
- Stop smoking
Smoking increases your risk of getting diabetes, and it can make managing diabetes more difficult for those who already have it. The nicotine in cigarettes makes your blood vessels harden and narrow, curbing blood flow throughout your body. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit!
Even though it’s a lifelong illness, diabetes can be controlled. Following these five measures for a healthier lifestyle can help you prevent complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke or kidney failure. Get a customized Preventive Care Plan here, based on your age, gender and any of your known conditions. You can schedule an appointment to discuss any questions or concerns with your physician.
For more information on preventing, controlling and living with diabetes, visit cdc.gov/diabetes
Katherine Farrell Harris is a certified diabetes educator, registered dietitian and Director of Integrated Nutrition at AdvantageCare Physicians, one of New York’s largest physician led multi-specialty practices serving half a million patients in 36 locations throughout New York City and Long Island.