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You’ve likely seen the news that type 2 diabetes is a growing epidemic, but what you may not realize is that basic lifestyle changes can alter a person’s risk.
For a person with type 2 diabetes, the body can’t produce enough insulin, which is used to take glucose (sugar) from the blood into the cells, and the body also has trouble taking up and using glucose. Left unchecked, the condition can be life-threatening.
Alvin Huang, M.D., an endocrinologist on the medical staff of Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano, offers the following suggestions for a healthier lifestyle—and a lower risk for diabetes.
Lose weight. You may know that maintaining a healthy weight is important, but it might surprise you that the Diabetes Prevention Program, a National Institutes of Health study, found that lowering your body weight by 7 percent (or an average of 15 pounds) through diet and exercise can decrease diabetes risk by as much as 58 percent[SC1] .
“Being overweight is the most significant risk factor for developing diabetes,” Dr. Huang says. “Whether it’s through, diet or exercise or a combination of the two, it’s important to lose any excess weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
Get moving. Being physically inactive is another common risk factor for diabetes, Dr. Huang says. In the DPP study, the group that reduced their risk through lifestyle changes exercised for a total of 150 minutes a week. Brisk walking for just 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can make a difference.
Watch what you eat. When modifying your diet, Dr. Huang says, be sure to monitor portion sizes and make sure you’re getting the right foods.
“It’s helpful to limit carbohydrates, because these nutrients contribute to an elevation in blood glucose,” Dr. Huang says. “But when people switch to a low carb diet, they may also eat more fat, which can be unhealthy. It’s about balance—getting some fat, some carbohydrates and some protein.”
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or want to learn more about the disease, sign up for the Diabetes Seminar at Baylor Plano, Tuesday, Nov.16 from noon to 1:30 p.m. Click here to register or call 1.800.4BAYLOR
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