Diabetes affects more than 29 million people in the United States, or about 10 percent of the population, according to the Center for Disease Control. Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases which causes high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. It affects many parts of the body and is associated with serious complications such as heart disease, stroke, blindness and kidney failure. This March 24th is National Diabetes Alert Day in the United States, a one-day wake up call to inform the American public of the seriousness of Type 2 Diabetes, particularly when left undiagnosed or untreated.
What is Type 2 exactly?
According to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong disease that prevents the body’s cells from using insulin correctly, or when the body can’t produce enough. Insulin lets blood sugar, also known as glucose, enter the body’s cells to be used for energy. When insulin cannot properly do its job, your body’s cells can’t get the glucose it needs, causing too much sugar to build up in the blood. Over time, this extra sugar can damage your kidneys, eyes, blood vessels and nerves. Diabetes can go silent or undetected without symptoms for a long time. In fact, nearly 30 percent affected do not realize until they begin to display symptoms such as heart disease, blindness or nerve disease.
Can Type 2 be prevented?
Yes, while your genetic predisposition may increase the likelihood of developing Type 2, it is preventable based on lifestyle choices. According to a Harvard study, 90 percent of Type 2 diabetes in women can be attributed to five factors: excess weight, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet, smoking and overconsumption of alcohol. Similar factors affect men as well. Here are a few ways you can lower your risk:
Tune up your diet.
For example, choosing whole grains over processed carbohydrates can have a positive impact on your diet. Try to eliminate saturated fats, which can be found in fried foods. It doesn’t hurt to try eating more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis either.
Skip the sugar.
Avoiding sugary drinks. This may seem simple but a 20 ounce soda can have more than 44 grams of sugar, or about 117 percent of your recommended daily intake, according to the American Heart Association…in just one drink!
Choose good fats.
There is such a thing as good fat. Also called polyunsaturated fats, these good fats can be found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds and can help fight Type 2 diabetes.
In addition to all the other potential risks of smoking, it can also contribute to the development of diabetes. Smokers are nearly 50 percent more likely to develop diabetes than nonsmokers.
Am I at risk?
The American Heart Association offers the Prediabetes Risk Test, which asks users a number of simple questions about height, weight, family history and other potential risk factors for prediabetes. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse states that a fasting (8 hours, no food or liquid other than water) blood glucose level of 126 mg/dL or above, confirmed by repeated tests over several days, means a person has diabetes. A normal fasting blood glucose level for those without diagnosed diabetes is less than 100 mg/DL.
The test offers preventative tips and encourages those at high risk to speak with a physician. This National Diabetes Alert Day, help spread the word about Diabetes and how Type 2 can be prevented.
For blood sugar testing and concerns about diabetes, contact Michigan Urgent Care today.