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Diabetes—Can You Reduce Your Risk?

Diabetes—Can You Reduce Your Risk?

THE incidence of diabetes mellitus is increasing so quickly that it has become a global epidemic. There are two major types of diabetes. Type 1 starts mainly in childhood, and presently doctors do not know how to prevent it. This article is about type 2, which accounts for about 90 percent of all diabetes.

While in the past it was seen as exclusive to adults, more recently type 2 diabetes has also been affecting children. Experts claim, however, that the risk of type 2 diabetes can be reduced. A little knowledge of this insidious disease may prove helpful to you. *

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that causes a person to have an excessive level of blood sugar. The disease upsets the normal process of transferring sugar from the bloodstream into cells that need it for energy. The result is damage to vital organs and impairment of blood circulation, sometimes leading to toe or foot amputation, blindness, and kidney disease. A large proportion of diabetes patients die of heart attacks or stroke.

Excess body fat can be a major factor in type 2 diabetes. Experts believe that fat accumulated in the belly and waist may indicate a higher risk for diabetes. More specifically, fat in the pancreas and the liver appear to disrupt the body’s regulation of blood sugar. What can you do to reduce your risk?

 Three Steps That May Reduce the Risk of Diabetes

1. Have your level of blood sugar tested if you are in a high-risk group. A medical disorder known as prediabetes—a condition in which blood sugar is moderately higher than normal—often precedes type 2 diabetes. Both conditions are unhealthy, but there is a difference: Although diabetes can be controlled, it cannot yet be cured. On the other hand, some prediabetics have been able to bring their blood sugar back to normal levels. Prediabetes may have no obvious symptoms. Hence, this condition may go unnoticed. According to reports, about 316 million people around the world have prediabetes; yet, many of them do not realize it. For instance, in the United States alone, some 90 percent of prediabetes sufferers are unaware of their condition.

Prediabetes is not harmless, however. Besides being a precursor to type 2 diabetes, it has recently been linked to an increased risk of dementia. If you are overweight, not physically active, or have a family history of diabetes, you might already have prediabetes. A blood test can tell you if you do.

2. Choose healthful food. You might benefit from doing the following whenever it is possible and practical: Eat smaller portions than usual. Instead of sugary fruit juice and carbonated beverages, drink water, tea, or coffee. Eat whole-grain bread, rice, and pasta—in moderation—rather than refined foods. Eat leaner meats, fish, nuts, and beans.

3. Stay physically active. Exercise can lower your blood sugar and help you maintain a healthy weight. Swap some TV time for exercise time, recommends one expert.

You cannot change your genes, but you can change your lifestyle. Doing what we can to improve our health is worth the effort.

^ par. 3 Awake! does not endorse any particular diet or exercise routine. Each individual should carefully evaluate the options and consult a physician as needed before making health-related decisions.