Diabetes is on the rise with greater than 24 million Americans being affected, 6 million of whom don’t even realize they have diabetes. What’s even more frightening is type 2 diabetes which usually affects adults is now showing up in children. The complications caused by diabetes such as limb loss and heart disease are equally disturbing. Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure and blindness in adult Americans and is directly responsible for 70,000 deaths in America each year. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to ensure that you are not part of these statistics.
While contributing factors such as genetic makeup cannot be changed, other factors which play a major role in diabetes such as being overweight, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet, smoking and excessive alcohol intake can certainly be dealt with.
The following are simple steps to dramatically lower your risk of diabetes:
- Losing excess weight: If you are overweight, losing just 7-10% of your weight can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by 50%. To this end, intense bouts of strenuous workouts are not required. Just switching off the television and going for a brisk walk on a daily basis may be all you need.
- Eating healthy: It is simply a matter of substituting unhealthy foods with their healthy alternatives:
- Eat more of whole grains rather than highly processed carbohydrates.
- Avoid sugary drinks and stick to coffee, tea, or water. Research has shown that coffee and tea may help prevent diabetes
- Choose good fats found in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds instead of bad fats found in fried foods served at fast food restaurants, packaged baked goods, and many margarines.
- Avoid processed meat or red meat and choose white meat such as fish or poultry instead.
- Quit smoking: Statistics show that smokers have about a 50% higher risk of developing diabetes.
- Alcohol may actually help! Some studies indicate that moderate alcohol consumption of no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women may increase the efficiency of insulin in decreasing blood sugar levels. However, if you don’t drink, there is no need to start.
Reduce your risk of diabetes by losing weight, eating less, and exercising more. The key is to find a plan that works with your body’s individual needs.
At Greater Houston Gastroenterology, we provide specialized services and treatments for a wide range of gastrointestinal conditions. Our dedicated clinical staff and physician assistants are available to assist in delivering high-quality treatment and expert care. As the largest GI group in the greater Houston area, we offer 17 locations for your convenience.