National Diabetes Month

November is National Diabetes Month! This year, the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) have partnered up to present this year’s theme: Take Diabetes To Heart. The goal this year is to educate the public on the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Adults with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke as people without diabetes. Luckily, there are steps you can take to help manage or prevent diabetes, as well as prevent cardiovascular disease.

Steps for Prevention

Listed below are the best tips for taking control of your health and preventing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Step 1: Take the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test. According to the American Diabetes Association, an estimated 7.2 million people with diabetes are undiagnosed and 1 in 3 American adults are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Taking the risk test will help you better understand your risk factor and what kind of lifestyle changes you need to think about making.

Step 2: Avoid fad diets. The latest diets that are meant for rapid weight loss often restrict or exclude whole food groups. This causes you to give up essential nutrients and could even adversely affect your overall health.

Step 3. Focus On Balanced Nutrition. Instead of trying fad diets, focus on  balanced nutrition. Limit red meats, avoid processed meat all together, and choose nuts, beans, legumes, and lean meats like poultry and fish as your protein sources. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, and choose whole grains and whole grain products over highly processed carbohydrates. Also, eat plenty of fiber, as fiber helps reduce your risk of diabetes by improving your blood sugar control. Most importantly, avoid processed foods and surgery drinks as much as possible!

Step 4: Engage in Regular Physical Activity. Research shows that exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, which is very important in preventing type 2 diabetes. This is because excess body fat, particularly if stored around the abdomen, can increase the body’s resistance to insulin. Exercise also helps to lower blood sugar levels and it boosts sensitivity to insulin, which helps keep your blood sugar within a normal range. For the best results, aim to engage in both aerobic exercise and resistance training.

Step 5: Quit Smoking (Or Never Start!) According to the CDC, smokers are 30–40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers. The more cigarettes you smoke, the higher your risk for type 2 diabetes. Research also shows that smoking after being diagnosed not only makes diabetes harder control, but it puts you at risk for a wide range of additional health issues.

Step 6: Manage Your Stress Levels. High stress levels that go unmanaged can have numerous negative effects on your health, such as poor sleep quality, weight gain, high blood pressure, etc. Over time, these conditions put you at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. To help manage your stress levels remember to choose positive and healthy methods, such as exercise, mediation, yoga, disconnecting from technology, or spending time in nature.

For more information on National Diabetes Month and preventing both diabetes and cardiovascular disease, click here!

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