Learning how to prevent diabetes can keep you from joining
the nearly 26 million Americans who already suffer from the disease. Many
people with diabetes are unaware that they even have it in the early stages, so
it's important to talk to your doctor if you have a family history of diabetes,
are overweight, or experience any of the following symptoms of diabetes:
Excessive thirst or hunger
Sudden weight loss
Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
Sudden vision changes
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease characterized by elevated blood
glucose levels. People with diabetes do not show a normal response to their
body's natural insulin, resulting in a buildup of sugar in the blood. Once
diabetes sets in, many people require lifelong oral medications and injectable
insulin to manage their blood sugar. Untreated, diabetes can lead to serious
health complications such as heart failure, kidney failure,blindness, and even
What are the risk
factors for developing diabetes?
Individuals with a genetic predisposition to diabetes are at
a greater risk for developing the disease, as are elderly people, African
Americans, Hispanic Americans, and American Indians. Obesity and physical
inactivity are also known risk factors.
How to Prevent Diabetes
Millions of people are already at high risk for developing
diabetes. Making these changes now can help prevent or delay the onset of
diabetes before it can progress.
Losing excess body weight is the single most effective
method of prevention. Dropping just a few extra pounds can make all the
difference. Moderate daily exercise and a reduced-calorie diet are the simplest
ways to keep the weight off long-term.
Drink Coffee or Tea
Good news for coffee and tea drinkers: Studies show that
plant-based nutrients found in both of these beverages can significantly reduce
your risk of diabetes. Three to four cups per day of coffee or tea (regular or
decaffeinated) showed the greatest positive effects on blood sugar levels.
Physical exercise, besides just controlling weight, can help
prevent diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity. Even one exercise session
per week is beneficial, though a long-term program that includes both aerobic
activity and weight training provides the greatest protection against diabetes.
A heart-healthy diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy
fats, and complex carbohydrates, will help regulate your blood sugar and
maintain an ideal cholesterol level. Eat smaller meals throughout the day to
avoid blood sugar spikes.
Schedule routine visits with your doctor to discuss other
risk factors for developing diabetes, such as high blood pressure and elevated
cholesterol levels. This is especially important if you are in one of the
high-risk groups mentioned earlier.