November marks American Diabetes Awareness Month, a time for us to bring awareness to the prevention, treatment, and risks associated with diabetes. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released its National Diabetes Statistic Report for 2020 which revealed that 34.2 million Americans have diabetes, that is just over 1 in 10 people. For American adults the statistic is more staggering with nearly 1 in 4 living with diabetes, with rates holding steady over the last 5-10 years.
Some good news from the new 2020 report is that there is an increased awareness and diagnosis of prediabetes, a condition where blood sugars are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. When prediabetes is found it provides a great opportunity for individuals to take action to improve their diet, exercise, and weight to decrease the likelihood of being diagnosed with diabetes. The CDC reports that 88 million American adults have prediabetes, approximately 1 in 3 people. Between 2005 and 2016, the percentage of adults who were aware that they had prediabetes doubled, although many adults are still unaware that they have prediabetes.
Treating diabetes and working to prevent it is important because having type 2 diabetes increases the risk for many serious health problems including heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and loss of toes, feet, or legs. Studies have shown that people with prediabetes who take part in a structured lifestyle change program and lose 5-7% of their body weight through healthier eating and 150 minutes of physical activity per week can cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%. This percentage increases to 71% for people over 60 years old.
Fortunately, the lifestyle changes that help to prevent diabetes in individuals with prediabetes are the same healthy living suggestions for individuals with diabetes to help improve their blood sugar control and lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. Let’s review 5 Diabetes Healthy Living Tips for American Diabetes Awareness Month.
Diabetes Healthy Living Tip #1: Up your fiber
YOU have the power to take control and improve your health with the foods you choose! Focus on choosing whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible. Fresh fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, nuts/seeds, and whole grains should make up the majority of your diet. The fiber in these foods can improve your blood sugar, reduce your risk of heart disease, and promote a healthy weight. Food with fiber, particularly soluble fiber, can slow the absorption of sugar and may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Examples of foods with soluble fiber include oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, and peas. High fiber foods also tend to be more filling, so may lead to you eat less and stay satisfied longer. For every 1,000 calories you eat, aim for 14 grams of fiber.
Diabetes Healthy Living Tip #2: Increase your physical activity
Want a natural way to lower your blood sugar? Look no further than your walking shoes! Going for a walk or any other activity will get your blood pumping. Your body uses glucose as fuel when you are exercising which naturally brings down high blood sugar. Regular exercise also helps to boost your sensitivity to insulin which helps keep your blood sugar within the normal range. The key here is to find an activity you enjoy and can stick to! Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day or at least 150 minutes a week.
Diabetes Healthy Living Tip #3: Reach and MAINTAIN a healthy weight
Losing extra pounds, even around only 7%, can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by almost 60%! Reaching a healthy weight requires burning more calories than you take in. Losing weight after a diagnosis of diabetes can also help to improve blood sugar levels and even reduce medications. When focusing on losing weight, it is important to make changes you can stick to for the long-term! Maintaining a healthy weight is just as important as getting there! Not sure what a healthy weight for you is, check out this website to see what an ideal weight for you would be. When working towards weight loss, a healthy goal is to focus on losing an average of 1-2 pounds a week.
Diabetes Healthy Living Tip #4: Skip fad diets
Fad diets may be tempting to try and may help you lose weight initially, but fad diets do not last or work at improving health over the long-term. Following a restrictive diet can also lead to a poor intake of nutrients that are important for overall good health. Fad diet set individuals up for failure. When a diet fails, the dieters may blame themselves and develop a feeling of hopelessness that they are unable to lose weight. This can make it harder to make the healthy changes needed for long-term weight loss. Focus on a well-balanced diet that includes a lot of colors and a variety of different foods. Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating provides the tools and resources needed for long-term success, with no fads or gimmicks!
Diabetes Healthy Living Tip #5: Cut out sugary drinks
Sugary drinks such as soda, sweetened teas, fruit punch, lemonade, energy drinks, and sports drinks account for the largest source of added sugars in the U.S. diet. There are between 7 and 10 teaspoons of sugar in a typical can of soda!! Sugary drinks provide no nutrition to the diet with many calories, making them some of the worst things you can drink for your health. Drinking 1-2 cans or more of a sugary drink per day increases the risk of developing diabetes by 26%. In the Framingham Heart Study, men and women who had one or more soft drinks per day were 25% more likely to have trouble managing their blood sugar. If you like carbonation, try sparkling water or seltzer instead of soda. If you don’t like water and need something with a little more flavor, add a splash of 100% fruit juice, sliced fruits or cucumbers, or fresh herbs to add some flavor to your water. Unsweetened tea and coffee without added sweeteners are healthy choices too.
The American Diabetes Association suggests to get your blood sugar tested if you
have any of these risk factors for diabetes:
- Overweight or obese
- Age 45 years or older
- Have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes
- Physically active less than three times a week
- History of gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
- Being African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian, Pacific Islander, or Asian American
If you are curious if you may have prediabetes you can also visit, www.doihaveprediabetes.org, to take an online assessment powered by the American Diabetes Association to determine your risk and determine if you need an assessment by your healthcare provider. This assessment can also point you towards lifestyle changes that are unique to you that you need to tackle.
Over the last 35 years of business, Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating has helped thousands of people with type 2 diabetes lose weight, reduce or eliminate medications, and live an overall healthier life. Are you in need of a solution to improve your blood sugar control or have a desire to lose weight and eliminate medications without having the stress of meal planning, shopping, and cooking? Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating may be the answer to help you reach your diabetes goals!