Diabetes: Advice on Prevention

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In part two of our three-part series, learn how to prevent diabetes and reverse prediabetes.

In part one of our series on diabetes, you learned all about type 2 diabetes and how to determine if you’re at risk for this chronic disease. Now it’s time to get down to business and uncover the steps to safeguard your health.

Our advice for preventing diabetes and getting a grip on prediabetes may sound familiar. After all, it echoes most everything you’ve heard about staying healthy:

  • Cut back on sugar and high-calorie foods like burgers, fries and doughnuts. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Do something active every day – walk, hike, play a sport, practice yoga, ice skate – anything you find fun and easy to fit in.
  • Lose excess weight by eating better and adding exercise.
  • See your doctor and get your blood sugar tested if you are between age 40 and 70 and overweight.

Even relatively small changes – like losing 10 pounds if you weigh 200 or adding 25 minutes of exercise, six days a week – have big impact and will improve your health in other ways, too.

Image result for prediabetes infographic 2018

All the proof – and support – you need to take charge

There’s more encouraging news for people with prediabetes: Joining a prevention program that follows protocol established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can cut your risk in half. People over age 70 stand to cut their risk of developing diabetes even more – by 71%.

One such program is the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program, offered at more than 200 YMCA locations across the country – including southern Maine. This 10-month program uses coaching, lessons on healthy eating and exercising, managing stress and problem solving, plus group support and weekly meetings.

“The goals are for participants to lose 5 to 7% of their body weight and gradually increase physical activity to 150 minutes per week,” notes Nicole Hart, Strategic Initiatives Director at YMCA of Southern Maine.

Still not convinced? Even 10 years out, follow-up research shows people who finish CDC-approved programs like these are 33% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Find a program at a YMCA near you.

When to get help

Sometimes blood sugar levels creep up so slowly that it’s hard to recognize a problem. These common symptoms can indicate high blood sugar:

  • Extreme thirst and/or hunger.
  • Urinating more frequently than usual.
  • Blurred vision.

If you experience these symptoms – or if you think you’re at risk for diabetes or prediabetes, talk with your health care provider. “Taking action to reverse prediabetes keeps you in control, whereas if things progress to diabetes, there’s no cure,” says Janet Pachta, M.D., adult medicine provider at Martin’s Point Health Care. “And diagnosing diabetes as soon as possible helps you start management that protects your heart, kidneys and eyes.”

Coming soon – part three in our series, which will focus on managing type 2 diabetes.

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