In recent weeks, Tom Hanks discussed his diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes on The David Letterman Show, once again drawing attention to a major health crisis in the United States. Nearly 26 million Americans currently have diabetes. An additional 79 million are considered prediabetic and are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future.
Type 2 diabetes is a growing epidemic in the United States, which is why the American Diabetes Association has designated November as American Diabetes Month. This campaign is designed to raise awareness of diabetes and educate Americans on ways they can lower their risk of developing the disease.
The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes is a combination of genetic predisposition and lifestyle factors. While you certainly have no say in your genetic makeup, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight sets you up for a host of health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. Trying to lose weight is a daunting task for anyone, but there are ways to make the process more manageable. Start by setting short-term and long-term goals. Keep a weight-loss log to track your progress and help you stay motivated. If possible, find a weight-loss partner to share the journey with you.
If you dread the treadmill or elliptical, don’t worry. Getting fit isn’t just about hitting the gym anymore! A recent study performed by researchers at the University of Utah found that every minute of brisk exercise counts. So, even if you don’t have the stamina to endure a 30-minute workout, you can still reap the benefits of exercise by working short bouts of physical activity into your day. And exercise doesn’t have to feel like exercise in order to be effective! Dancing to music in the living room and playing Frisbee in the backyard are both great ways to elevate your heart rate and get your body moving!
Clean up your Diet
The first step toward a healthier diet is cleaning out the refrigerator and pantry! Throw out all those calorie-laden chips, cookies, soft drinks and ice cream. Then, restock your kitchen with whole grains, lean proteins, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid frying foods in butter or oil; opt to steam, grill, or bake them instead. Plan your meals in advance, and then stick to your plan! This will keep you from veering off course and making unhealthy choices at mealtime (Source: American Diabetes Association).
Team up with the American Diabetes Association this November and kick start your journey to a healthier lifestyle. You’ll not only lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes, but you’ll look better and feel better too. You’ve got nothing to lose!