November is Diabetes Awareness Month. More than 37 million Americans have diabetes, and approximately 95% of them have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over age 45, but children and young people are also developing it.
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. Over time, diabetes can lead to serious health issues including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye problems, foot ulcers, amputations, and increased risk of infections.
Knowing the diabetes risk factors that you can control and taking steps to manage them may help reduce your risk. These include:
- Excess weight, including being overweight or obese
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Lack of exercise
- Unhealthy diet
Based on your risk factors, your doctor can advise you on how often you should have your glucose checked. Stick to their recommendations to stay on top of your health.
Changing these lifestyle factors can help you lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and help you be healthier in general.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Aim to lose weight through healthy eating and exercise. Even losing just a few pounds can help lower your risk of type 2 diabetes!
- Exercise. Aim to exercise 150 minutes a week—walking can be a great exercise to start with. Talk to your doctor first if you are new to exercise.
- Reduce time spent sitting. Keep moving as much as you can!
- Eat healthy. Choose balanced meals with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and other high-fiber foods. Eat consistent, moderate amounts of food at regular intervals. Limit added sugars.
- Quit tobacco. People who quit smoking reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by 40%!
If you think that you are at risk for diabetes, now is the time to take action! You may be able to prevent it by making healthy lifestyle changes.