As the years go by, Americans are getting heavier and less active. These factors are directly related to the increased prevalence of diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30 million American adults – nearly 10 percent – have been diagnosed with the disease.
The majority of people diagnosed with the condition have type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes occurs when you produce insulin but your body’s cells are unable to use it as efficiently as they should. This leads to the pancreas producing extra insulin to get glucose to your cells but eventually sugar builds up in your blood instead.
The main risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include:
- Genetics – Your DNA can affect how your body makes insulin
- African-American, Native American, Asian-American or Hispanic ethnicity
- Being overweight or obese – a BMI over 25, especially if you carry extra weight around your waist
- Poor nutrition
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Even if you do not have any of the risk factors for diabetes, you could still develop the disease. In fact, we’re seeing diabetes at younger ages and in populations where it wasn’t prevalent in the past. Even if you’re not at high risk on paper, it’s important to get routine checkups with your primary care physician. He or she can evaluate your blood glucose level with a fasting blood sugar test.
The good news is that there are things you can do to help lower your risk for diabetes:
- Maintain a healthy weight – Even losing as few as 10 pounds can make a difference. To get started, read Five Tips to Lose Weight This Year.
- Improve your nutrition – Focus on eating more vegetables and fruit, lean protein, whole grains and healthy fats. To learn more, read Six Successful Diet Strategies.
- Get more exercise – The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of physical activity a week. This breaks down to 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
- Get enough sleep – Aim for 7-8 hours per night. To get tips for better sleep, read Get the Best Sleep Ever.
- Quit smoking – Giving up this habit will improve your overall health. To learn how, read Want to Quit Smoking?
Learn more about diabetes care at Edward-Elmhurst Health.
Want to learn your potential risk for diabetes? Take Edward-Elmhurst Health’s free DiabetesAware online assessment.
To make an appointment, visit us online or call 630-527-6363.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Lengemann, call 630-527-5000.