The effects of diabetes are experienced on a daily basis by millions of people across the globe, from all walks of life. Diabetes is characterized by chronic hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) due to the body’s inability to produce enough insulin to regulate glucose. There are two main types of diabetes:
- Type I diabetes – which typically affects children and adolescents, and
- Type II diabetes – which affects adults and is caused by insulin resistance.
Type II diabetes is diagnosed after the age of forty and its far more prevalent than type I diabetes.
Your Weight and Diabetes
The effects of diabetes go far beyond the usual chronic hyperglycemia. Diabetes is the major cause of blindness (diabetic retinopathy), lower extremity amputations, end stage kidney diseases, and cardiovascular complications. A person diagnosed with diabetes is two-to four times likely to experience some form of cardiovascular complication (including strokes) during their lifetime.
How does my weight relate to diabetes?
There is a close link between diabetes and obesity. The risk factors for type II diabetes include stress, age, pregnancy, race, certain types of medications, genetics, high cholesterol, and obesity. Of all these, the single biggest indicator of type II diabetes is obesity.
Over 90% of people living with type II diabetes are overweight or obese. Being overweight adds undue pressure on the body’s ability to use insulin to control blood sugar levels and as a result, these individuals are far more likely to develop diabetes.
How to Prevent Type II Diabetes
Type II diabetes is largely preventable. Multiple studies have shown that minor lifestyle changes can trigger weight loss and delay the development of type II diabetes among high risk adults. Health experts recommend activities that exert the muscles and allow the body to burn extra fat – such as walking, jogging, taking the stairs, dancing, etc.
Simple activities such as walking for 30 minutes or swimming can with blood flow and help reduce the amount of fat the body stores; and when combined with healthy food, your daily routine can reverse the effects of obesity to a large extent. Moderate physical exercise such as jogging or running can be arranged without any major health implications; however you should contact a health expert before taking on more intense workouts.
Eating healthy food, increasing activity levels, and avoiding drugs and alcohol can go a long way toward preventing or managing type II diabetes. Weight management is by far the best way to prevent diabetes now and in the future.
What to do if you already have diabetes
The food you eat has a profound impact on your mental and physical health. To positively influence your overall health, choose healthy foods and exercise regularly to reduce stress levels. Your doctor will prescribe medications to control blood sugar levels and also offer advice on living healthy with diabetes.
Gradual weight loss (for instance losing about 10 pounds a week) can reduce the amount of medication needed to keep your blood sugar levels within the healthy range. By reducing the amount of medication used to manage diabetes, you also minimize the chances of experiencing hypoglycemia (extremely low blood sugar), a common condition caused by over-medicating.
Ultimately, the best way to prevent diabetes is through proper nutrition and exercise. This is particularly essential for individuals in the high-risk category in their effort to prevent or delay the development of diabetes and the complications associated with the disease.