Did you know that 54 million Americans are living with pre-diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and they may not even know it? November recognizes National Diabetes Awareness Month, and it’s a chance for all of us to take a second look at our health so we don’t become a statistic.
Diabetes is one of the most serious health problems that the African American community faces today. Compared to the general population, African Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes.
With all the medications, finger sticks, foot checks, vision tests, and daily grind of nutrition and exercise, it can be a lot for people to manage, especially after a lifetime of unhealthy habits. Wouldn’t it be great if you knew exactly how to control your diabetes, or better yet, prevent diabetes altogether? Well, you can. Following are three steps you can take to reverse or prevent type 2 diabetes.
1. Eat More Nutritiously
If you already have type 2 diabetes, then you should know the importance of keeping carbohydrates consistent throughout the day, meaning you consume a small amount of healthy carbohydrates with each meal. This also works in type 2 diabetes prevention, too.
Choose carbohydrates in the form of fresh or minimally processed starchy vegetables (potatoes), fruits, beans (lentils), and whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, or corn). Since non-starchy vegetables have such low carbs for the calories and they are almost 100% water, you don’t need to limit those. Preparation is also key for these foods. Steamed or broiled with herbs, spices or a little olive oil is best.
Refined sources of carbohydrates should be limited as much as possible: sugar, white bread, white rice, etc. You don’t have to eliminate all foods with these ingredients, but try to make healthier swaps when possible and limit the portion sizes of these foods.
2. Get More Exercise
Exercise can help slow or prevent the progression of diabetes a number of ways. Exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight, lose weight, manage stress, and improve sleep. Exercise also helps people manage a healthy blood sugar level whether you have diabetes or not.
During exercise, the body burns sugar for energy. Regular exercise helps to keep blood vessels healthy to prevent heart disease, which diabetics often get from damage to blood vessels. You don’t have to run marathons, as little as 1,000 calories worth of activity during the week causes the muscles to utilize sugar more effectively and keep it from hanging around in the blood, which leads to diabetes.
For exercise, try walking 30 minutes followed by 20 minutes of strength training three times a week.
3. Start Losing Weight
Get a tape measure and take measurement of your waist.
- Men, if you’ve got 40 or more inches around the waist, you have 12 times the risk of developing diabetes than a male with 35 inches.
- Women, if you have 37 or more inches around the waist, you are 12 times more likely to get diabetes than a female with 32.5 inches.
Eating healthy and getting more exercise are key to losing weight. Get a trainer, dietitian, join a class, or buy a book/DVD… just do something to help yourself lose weight sensibly.