Diabetes is one of the 10 deadliest diseases in the world, only behind the likes of strokes, heart disease, and lung cancer as a leading cause of death. According to the World Health Organization, around 422 million people have diabetes worldwide.
Despite seeing a continuous increase in cases through the years, type 2 diabetes is actually very preventable. Many specialists stress the importance of recognizing risk factors, signs, and ways to delay or completely deter its onset.
Read on if you’re interested in a guide to diabetes risks, symptoms, and how to prevent it.
Recognizing the Risks and Symptoms
A lot of people don’t realize that they may be on the path to developing diabetes, with more than 88 million in the United States unaware that they already have prediabetes. On top of that, a significant number of individuals already have diabetes and don’t know it. This is what makes it so important to not only know the risk factors for diabetes but also know its early indicators and symptoms.
A guide by Zocdoc on the early warning signs of diabetes covers both risk factors and symptoms to watch out for. The risk factors include a lack of physical activity, having a BMI over 25, a family history of type 2 diabetes, having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and being over the age of 45.
If you have those risk factors, it’s important to start tackling those you can change and minimize your predisposition. The early warning signs to watch for include chronic fatigue, frequent urination (especially at night), increased thirst, numb or tingling hands or feet, and very dry skin.
You should also watch for more blatant symptoms like blurry vision, feeling hungry often, cuts or wounds taking a long time to heal, unexpected weight loss, and having plenty of infections.
If you have any of these symptoms, you may want to get your blood glucose levels checked.
Lifestyle Choices and Habits
Your lifestyle choices and habits will be a primary factor in preventing diabetes. Having good practices in your daily life will be essential in reversing any present symptoms of prediabetes. Even if you don’t have symptoms, these will be very useful in preventing any from cropping up in the first place.
As we’ve covered in ‘The Complete Guide to Self Care’, it’s important to constantly care for your body and stay attuned to your needs. More often than not, this means getting more sleep, adding exercise to your routine, staying hydrated with water, practicing mindfulness, and eating thoughtfully.
Maintaining a healthy weight, following a good meal plan, and regularly moving will do wonders in minimizing your risk for diabetes. It may seem simple but that’s exactly what makes these preventative measures so manageable. You don’t need to take any extra medication unless you are specifically instructed to by a healthcare provider.
Data from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) diabetes prevention program even reveals that overweight individuals can prevent or delay diabetes just by losing around five to 10% of their current weight. A good way to maintain that lost weight is by avoiding restrictive fad diets. Instead, you will want to keep reasonable portions, opt for healthy meals, and make sure you get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
What to Eat and Avoid
One of the biggest ways to prevent diabetes is to watch what you consume. It’s not just about how much you eat, but what exactly you are ingesting.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a dietary list specifically meant to aid you in preventing type 2 diabetes. It’s quite simple to follow, so it shouldn’t be an overwhelming change.
What you want to include more in your diet are fruits, vegetables that aren’t starchy, lean protein, whole grains, and unsweetened beverages. This means integrating more water, brown rice, fish, chicken, tofu, peppers, mushrooms, and broccoli, among other things.
The biggest drinks you need to avoid are alcohol, soda, and sports drinks. Even fruit juices are a big no-no because they tend to have way more sugar than simply consuming fresh fruit. As for food, you should stay away from processed food and trans fats. This means fast food, processed meat like bacon or corned beef, junk food, and margarine, to name a few.
It doesn’t mean you have to completely remove them from your life. It’s just important to minimize your consumption of these as much as possible to give yourself the best chances against diabetes. It’s best to keep in mind that you have the power to prevent disease with the right choices.