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By: Tarie Beldin, RD, LD, FAND

Type II diabetes is a metabolic condition of elevated blood sugar and is either caused by decreased insulin production or when your body does not respond to the insulin it makes. According to the World Health Organization, there are an estimated 422 million adults (8.5% of the world population) that have diabetes. This number has quadrupled since 1980 and has caused a drain on the healthcare systems. Diabetes is also the number one cause of blindness and kidney failure in adults.

Millions of people do not even know they have diabetes. I would argue that routine medical care is crucial to catching elevated blood sugars early so treatment can begin as soon as possible. Listed below are some simple steps that you can take to help prevent diabetes.

  1. Maintain a Healthy Weight. Being overweight or obese makes your cells less sensitive to insulin, which results is an increased blood sugar. In addition to increasing the risk for diabetes, being overweight also increases your risk for other conditions such as hypertension and heart disease. The good news is that a modest weight loss of 5-7% (approximately 7-10 pounds) can help you gain control of your blood sugar levels.
  2. Exercise. Exercise can lower your blood sugar and increase your cells sensitivity to insulin. The American Diabetes Association recommends 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 5 times per week. A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that even brisk walking can reduce the risk of Type II diabetes by up to 30%.
  3. Increase Your Fiber Intake. Fiber slows down your carbohydrate absorption and can increase feelings of fullness, which can help with weight management. In order to maximize your fiber intake, consider swapping out refined grains/starches with whole wheat bread or tortillas, whole wheat pasta, brown rice or oatmeal.

Other dietary changes such as increasing your consumption of colorful vegetables, having an occasional meatless meal, eliminating high sugar beverages and limiting saturated fats can also help prevent diabetes and the complications that can occur if you already have diabetes. For more information about diabetes or to find out if you are at risk, check with your primary care physician.

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