How do you prevent diabetes? What does it mean when your doctor tells says, “You are pre-diabetic?” Is the cure to stop eating foods with sugar and start exercising almost every day?
But as I re-read my prediabetes materials in preparation for a 16-week class I am
facilitating for the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), I am reminded that it is so much more than that.
People who are pre-diabetic have a blood sugar level higher than normal, but not high
enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. They are at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems, including heart disease, and stroke.
A person with certain risk factors is more likely to develop prediabetes and type 2
diabetes. These factors include:
— Age, especially after 45 years old.
— Being overweight, especially if you carry a lot of extra weight in your abdomen.
— A family history of diabetes.
— Having an African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or
Pacific Islander racial or ethnic background.
— A history of diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes) or having given birth to a baby weighing nine pounds or more.
— Not being physically active three or more times a week.
So if you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes or you think you have some of the warning signs listed above, what can you do?
— Research shows that doing just two things can help you prevent or delay type 2 diabetes: Lose 5 to 7 percent of your body weight, which would be 10 to 14 pounds for a 200- pound person. And get at least 150 minutes each week of physical activity, such as brisk walking.
Another way is to take a class along with others who are concerned about their health. Consider joining one of my Wellness Beyond Fifty lifestyle change programs, which can help you reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 58 percent.
If you do, you will discover what foods to eat and how much physical activity is required each day to achieve the results you desire. Once you have lost the weight, you will learn specific coping skills to maintain it so you can have the best health of your life.