Tips to Prevent Type II Diabetes
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes causes blood glucose levels to
be above normal. People with diabetes have problems converting food to energy.
After food is eaten, it is broken down into a sugar called glucose. Glucose is
then carried by the blood to cells throughout the body. The hormone insulin,
made in the pancreas, helps the body change blood glucose into energy. People
with type 2 diabetes, make insulin but less than needed to regulate their blood
sugar and their insulin doesn’t work properly. People with type 1 diabetes usually make no insulin.
What are the signs and symptoms of type
Many people have no visible signs or
symptoms of diabetes. Symptoms can also be so mild that you might not notice
them. More than 5 million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes
and do not know it.
- increased thirst
- increased hunger
- unexplained weight loss
- blurred vision
- sores that do not heal
- increased urination, especially at night
What does pre-diabetes mean?
Pre-diabetes means your blood glucose
is higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. When you
have pre-diabetes, you’re at risk of getting type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
There are no visible symptoms of pre-diabetes. The good news is, if you have
pre-diabetes, you can lower your risk of getting diabetes. With modest weight
loss and moderate physical activity you may even return to having normal blood
What factors increase my risk for type 2 diabetes?
If you have certain conditions, you’re
more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The more of these conditions you have,
the higher your risk. Check each item that is true for you. Then show this list
to your doctor.
- My mother had diabetes when I was
- I am overweight.
- I have a parent, brother, or sister
- My family background is African
American, American Indian, Asian or Pacific Islander.
- I have had gestational diabetes, or I
gave birth to at least one baby weighing more than 9 pounds.
- My blood pressure is 140/90 or higher,
or I have been told that I have high blood pressure.
- My cholesterol levels are higher than
normal. My HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) is below 35, or my triglyceride
level is above 250.
am fairly inactive. I exercise fewer than three times a week.
How can I lower my risk for diabetes?
Small steps can lead to big rewards.
- Reach and maintain a reasonable body
- Make wise food choices most of the
- Be physically active every day.
- Take your prescribed medicines.
Doing these small nutritional steps can reduce your risk
of developing type 2 diabetes. Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol on
target also helps you stay healthy.
- Watch portion sizes!! Keep in mind that many of the foods we are served are greatly oversized.
- Eat mindfully and slowly, learning to fully enjoy the eating experience, rather than focusing on getting the next bite.
- Wait 20 minutes before even considering additional portions of food. This is the length of time it takes for the brain to receive the message that food is on the way.
- Include generous servings of vegetables daily. A minimum of 3 to 5 servings per day is recommended.
- Watch what you drink. Sweetened sodas, juices and fruit flavored drinks are concentrated sources of sugar and calories. It’s so easy to swallow hundreds of calories without even realizing it.
- Reduce your consumption of fatty and deep fried foods. Instead, try veggie burgers, lean meats, poultry, fish, legumes and low fat dairy products. Remember…according to the Diabetes Prevention Program, a recent landmark clinical study, “Lifestyle changes are important and such changes CAN be made”.
For more general nutrition information, see Nutrition.
For a nutrition appointement, see Nutrition Services.
Written by Margaret Vimmerstedt MD and Jennifer Hopkins MPH, RD