By Charlyn Fargo
My grandfather had diabetes; my father has diabetes and my brother has diabetes.
I’m not alone when it comes to a family hit hard by this disease.
November is Diabetes Awareness Month – a time to take a closer look at what you can do to avoid diabetes or how to cope with diabetes if you have it.
Ask yourself this question, “If you knew you were at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, would you make a lifestyle change?” Most of us would answer, “Yes.”
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Along with individuals who are diagnosed, over 500,000 Illinois residents suffer from symptoms of prediabetes, a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Every 19 seconds, someone is diagnosed with diabetes. Statewide, 827,000 residents manage the chronic condition daily. And, nearly 1 in 4 adolescents has diabetes or prediabetes. From 1999 to 2008, there was a 14 percent increase of teens between the ages of 12-18 with diabetes or prediabetes.
Here are a few things to know. Having a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes puts an individual at an increased risk for heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower extremity amputations. Being pro-active may save years in managing the chronic disease and result in improved quality of life. Research has proven that individuals at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes can cut their risk by more than 50 percent with lifestyle changes.
What can you do? The two most important changes are losing weight and being more physically active. Suggested weight loss is to lose 7 percent of body weight and maintain the weight loss, and, be physically active for one-hour a day or 150 minutes per week.
Studies show that those lifestyle changes can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Here are some tips:
- Choose foods low in fat, sugar and sodium.
- Balance meals with fruit and vegetables.
- Limit or replace sugary drinks with healthier choices such as water or skim milk.
- Eat smaller portions.
- Alter sugar amounts in recipes by 1/3 — instead of one-cup of sugar, use 2/3 cup.
- Choose low-fat protein sources like poultry with the skin removed, fish, or legumes (beans).
- Watch saturated fat sources like butter and lard; instead use oils like canola or olive.
- Add physical activity each day.
For research-based information on preventing and managing type 2 diabetes, go to University of Illinois Extension website “Your Guide to Diabetes” at http://extension.illinois.edu/diabetes2/ or the American Diabetes Association’s website at http://www.diabetes.org/.