With nearly 26 million children and adults in America living with diabetes, and another 79 million at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, the disease is taking a devastating physical, emotional and financial toll on our country.
Yet, most Americans don't consider diabetes a serious matter. They feel it is someone else's responsibility; someone else's problem.
Recent numbers by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paint a desperate situation of where we are at, and where we are headed: Every 17 seconds, someone is diagnosed with diabetes.
Diabetes kills more people each year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.
Recent estimates project that as many as 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes in 2050 unless we take steps to stop Diabetes.
What is diabetes? The term "diabetes" refers to a number of diseases, the most common being type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes. In each, the body does not produce or properly use insulin - a hormone that is needed to convert sugar starches and other food into the energy we need to live. The exact causes of diabetes are still unclear, although both genetics and environmental or lifestyle factors can play an important role in the development of diabetes and its complications.
There is a definite link between diabetes and being overweight.
Being overweight is a leading risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes and makes treating diabetes more difficult.
Studies show that overweight people who lose as little as 10-15 pounds and exercise just 30 minutes a day 5 times a week reduced their risk of developing diabetes by almost 60 percent.
There are also warning signs/symptoms of diabetes to include unusual thirst, frequent desire to urinate, blurred vision, tired feeling for no apparent reason, extreme hunger, irritability, and tingling/numbness in the hands or feet.
If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor and ask to be tested for diabetes. Find out for sure.
You have the power to improve and protect your health. With proper nutrition and physical activity, and by making good lifestyle choices, you can feel better, stronger, and healthier and can lower your risk of developing diabetes.
First, determine if you are at a healthy weight. There's an easy way to find out if your current weight puts you at risk for developing serious diseases. Go to www.diabetes.org/bmi and take the Body Mass Index (BMI) test.
The results will help you decide if you need to be concerned about your weight.
Nutrition plays an important role in preventing diabetes. Here are some basic guidelines to help you and your family make healthier food decisions.
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
- Choose whole grain foods over processed grain products. Try brown rice instead of white.
- Substitute whole wheat bread for white.
- Eat fish 2-3 times a week. It should be baked, broiled or grilled and not fried.
- Select leaner cuts of meat like those that end in "loin."
- Remove the skin from chicken and turkey.
- Eat non-fat dairy products like skim milk and yogurt.
- Drink water and calorie-free non-carbonated beverages.
- Use liquid oils for cooking instead of solid fats like butter.
- Cut back on high calorie snacks like chips, cookies, cakes, and regular ice cream. Look for
- baked chips and reduced calorie snacks. Or have a piece of fruit instead.
- Watch your portion sizes. Even too much "healthy" food can cause weight gain.
Physical activity is also key in reducing your risk for diabetes.
Anything that gets you up and moving is good for you. Exercise not only reduces your risk for diabetes, but also heart disease and stroke. It also helps you relieve stress, lose weight, have more energy, sleep better and build stronger bones and muscles. You don't have to train for a marathon or buy any fancy and expensive equipment. Simply walking 30 minutes a day 5 days a week will help.
Of course, you should always talk to your doctor before starting any exercise regimen.
It's important to know that diabetes is a serious illness that is affecting more and more Americans each year and how to prevent this illness from affecting you and your loved ones. For more information about diabetes prevention and/or living with diabetes, please call Kim Miles, County Extension Agent - Family & Consumer Sciences at 325-646-0386.