Diabetes is a chronic disease that can result in serious complications including nerve damage, heart and kidney disease, stroke, blindness, and even death. 1 in 4 of the more than 30 million U.S. adults with diabetes don’t know that they have it. The good news is that there are ways to decrease your risk for diabetes.
So how can you prevent diabetes?
The difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the pancreas produces very little insulin, or none at all. The causes of type 1 diabetes aren’t known. There’s no cure, and no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes makes up just a small portion of diabetes cases. It’s most commonly diagnosed in people under 20, but can also be diagnosed in older adults.
Type 2 diabetes is not an autoimmune condition. With type 2 diabetes, your body can’t properly use insulin. This type accounts for roughly 90% of all cases of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is typically diagnosed in adults. An increasing number of children and teens are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, however.
Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes can be prevented.
Ways to prevent type 2 diabetes
Healthy lifestyle choices may help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.
- Maintaining a healthy weight can help you prevent diabetes.
- Eating a healthy diet and staying physically active can help you manage your weight and prevent diabetes.
- Avoid foods high in saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium. Increase fiber, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
- Get a minimum of 2 and a half hours of moderate aerobic activity a week. The more exercise you get each day, the better the health benefits.
- Avoid smoking tobacco.
- Talk to your doctor.
Know the risk factors
Knowing the risk factors – especially those that are within your control – can help you prevent diabetes.
- Being overweight puts you at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes.
- Those over 45 are at a higher risk
- A family history of diabetes increases your risk for type 2 diabetes.
- Having diabetes while you were pregnant (gestational diabetes) increases your risk.
- Having high blood pressure increases risk for diabetes.
- Sedentary lifestyles increase your risk for diabetes.
- Smoking tobacco increases the risk.
- People of African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander heritage are at a higher risk than people with European backgrounds.
- Having prediabetes puts you at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes.
Prediabetes is a red flag, but you still have time to make positive changes to help prevent diabetes. The trouble is that 90% of American adults with prediabetes don’t know that they have it. This is just another reason why you should schedule regular wellness visits with your primary care doctor.
Schedule an appointment and speak to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns regarding diabetes.