Diabetes isn’t talked about nearly as much as other chronic diseases, but over 37 million Americans live with the long-lasting illness the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states: “1 in 5 of them don’t know they have it “and “diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.” The CDC defines diabetes as “your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream. Over time, that can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.” While there’s no cure yet for diabetes, there are unhealthy lifestyle choices that lead to the illness and Eat This, Not That! Health talked with doctors who explained what the bad habits are that can cause the chronic disease and how to help prevent getting it.
Dr. Jae Pak, M.D., of Jae Pak Medical states, “If there is a family history of diabetes, a person is at a much greater risk for developing the disease than those who do not have a family history.
According to Dr.Pak, “When a person is dangerously overweight, it becomes more difficult for the body to regulate blood sugar levels, which leads to the onset of pre-diabetes. If a person fails to manage their weight after that point, diabetes will develop.”
A Sedentary Lifestyle
“Our bodies were made to move,” Dr. Pak explains. “Failing to give the body the exercise it needs puts a person at risk for many chronic conditions, including diabetes.”
Dr. Puya Yazdi, Chief Science Officer with SelfDecode adds, “People that don’t exercise have a higher risk of developing diabetes. Research shows that regular exercise can prevent diabetes. We think it’s because physical activity burns carbs and helps your body use carbs more effectively.”
Eating a Bad Diet with Too Much Sugar
Dr. Yazdi says, “Eating sugary foods increases your blood sugar, and your body releases insulin to deal with that sugar. Over time, high amounts of sugar and insulin can make your body less sensitive to insulin. This leads to diabetes. Sugar-sweetened drinks, in particular, seem to increase your risk of diabetes.”
Who is at Risk for Diabetes?
Dr. Pak says, “The truth is, anyone who fails to take care of their body is at risk for developing diabetes. In addition to poor lifestyle choices, a genetic predisposition amplifies the risk.”
“Diabetes can be treated with insulin, but the disease can actually be reversed in obese patients who lose a significant amount of weight,” Dr. Pak states. “I tend to recommend bariatric surgery in extreme cases.”
According to Dr. Pak, “The best way to prevent diabetes is to take your health seriously from a young age. Develop healthy eating habits and commit to regular exercise. Get regular checkups from your physician to keep an eye on important health metrics.”
Dr. Yazdi adds, “The best way to prevent diabetes is to know your risk factors, and to make lifestyle changes that help you stay healthy.A healthy diet can protect you from getting diabetes. Avoid sugary foods like pastries, desserts and sugary snacks. Remove sugar-sweetened drinks from your diet completely! Try to replace sugary foods with healthy foods- things like fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts and whole grains decrease your risk of getting diabetes. Experts recommend getting regular exercise. This helps your overall health and can help prevent diabetes.” Recommended amounts of exercise include the following:
- 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week (like brisk walking)
- 60-75 minutes of intense physical activity a week (like running or swimming).
How Diabetes Can Seriously Affect Your Health
“Because diabetes constricts blood vessels, the disease can wreak havoc on every bodily system,” Dr. Pak explains. “The kidneys and eyes are especially vulnerable to damage, and your hands and feet may go numb when they do not receive adequate blood supply. Another danger associated with diabetes is the body’s natural ability to heal wounds, which can lead to limb amputation in dire situations.”
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