November is National Diabetes Month and here's why you should pay attention.
The CDC estimates that 30.3 million Americans have diabetes, but nearly a quarter of those people don't even know it. 84.1 million Americans have pre-diabetes, but 9 out of 10 of those people don't even know it! This means higher medical costs and increased risk for serious health complications (like vision loss, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, and even losing toes, feet, or legs) if not managed properly. This is serious.
I'm not giving you all of these stats just to freak you out, but in adults about 95% of those diagnoses are type 2 diabetes compared to type 1. What I want you to know is that pre-diabetes can be REVERSED. Type 2 diabetes can be PREVENTED. And for those already diagnosed, their diabetes can be MANAGED. How do we do it? With healthy eating habits and regular physical activity! It's not a glamorous answer, but it is so simple (I'm not saying eating healthy and exercising are easy, because changing our behaviors and daily habits is really hard work). You guys, the answer is diet and exercise! This is actually good news! Knowledge is power, and taking your health into your own hands can empower you to live a long and healthy life if you choose.
RISK FACTORS FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES:
You're 45 years or older
Having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes
Being physically active less than 3 days per week
You're African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Alaska Native
TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR BLOOD SUGAR
Fruit and fruit juice
Breads, cereal, and grains
Beans, peas, and lentils
Milk and yogurt
Sweets and desserts
Follow a "consistent carbohydrate diet" throughout the day. Notice that I didn't say " avoid all carbs"! You don't have to eliminate carbohydrates in order to stabilize your blood sugar. A consistent carbohydrate diet means evenly distributing your carb intake throughout the day, and consuming no more than 45-60 grams per meal for women; 60-75 grams per meal for men. Snacks should be capped at 15-30 grams of carbs.
Choose quality carbohydrate sources with at least 3-5 grams of fiber per serving and are jam packed with vitamins and minerals.
Reduce the amount of added sugar consumed per day from things like sweets, processed foods, and sugar-sweetened beverage.
Avoid going longer than 5 hours in between meals and snacks.
Build a well balanced plate by emphasizing Protein + Fat + Fiber. Our body digests protein, fat, and fiber much slower than overly processed refined carbs which stabilizes blood sugar and regulates insulin levels.
Get out and sweat! Exercise helps lower blood sugar because of the muscle's ability to use it for energy. Make it a goal to move every single day even if you start out with a 10 minute walk. Start where you can and gradually increase to 20 minutes, 30 minutes...an HOUR over time.
Controlling your blood sugar and adapting new eating habits doesn't have to mean depriving yourself of the foods you love. I very much believe in the philosophy that ALL FOOD CAN FIT within a healthy lifestyle. But don't misinterpret that as 'eat whatever and however much you want all the time'. With the necessary tools and strategies you can find the balance to living a healthy, vibrant, and fulfilling life.