According to the CDC, 9.4 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes. What’s shocking is that one in four of those people don’t even know it. Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States, and it is a contributing factor to many other illnesses and deaths.
The roster of health complications from diabetes is significant:
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke)
- Eye Damage (retinopathy)
- Kidney Disease (nephropathy)
- Nerve Damage (neuropathy)
- Skin Conditions
- Hearing Impairment
- Alzheimer’s Disease
In addition, another 84.1 million adults aged 18 and older have prediabetes. If you have prediabetes, you are at a 50 percent higher risk of heart disease and stroke than someone who does not have prediabetes. Getting diagnosed with prediabetes is a serious wake-up call, but it doesn’t mean you will definitely get diabetes. You still have time to turn things around.
What can you do to prevent diabetes or get your prediabetes under control? Make these four changes in your daily habits:
- Exercise and lose weight – A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine indicated that losing just 7 percent of your body weight and exercising about three hours each week can do more to improve your diabetic condition than medications alone.
- Keep track – See your doctor every three to six months to monitor your progress and screen for new problems the diabetes might be causing.
- Eat better – The American Diabetes Association recommends following the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes plant-based foods, whole grains, whole fruits and vegetables, and fewer processed foods and carbohydrates, along with more fish and less red meat.
- Get more sleep – Make sleep a priority, since a lack of sleep can make losing weight harder.
A contributing factor to developing diabetes across all population groups and age groups might be our overall sedentary lifestyle. Technology can have a significant negative influence, since it enables us to sit on the couch and binge watch TV shows or play video games for hours on end. In decades past, children spent more time outdoors being active, and many adults had jobs that required physical activity, some of it strenuous. Combine our modern sedentary lifestyles with the ocean of unhealthy snack foods that are available, and it’s easy to see why many people are at least slightly obese, and therefore more at risk for diabetes.
Even if you don’t want to adopt an 1880’s lifestyle, you can easily incorporate more physical activity into your daily life and your family’s lives. Take a family walk a few times each week, park far from the door at the mall, use the stairs instead of escalators and elevators, and encourage games and activities that promote getting up and moving around.
Because chronic conditions like diabetes can create emergency situations, they must be monitored closely. Health-e-Care physicians are specially trained to help people with chronic health conditions. If you need to discuss a chronic health problem, call (817-732-6060) or request an appointment online.