To put it simply, diabetes is a condition in which the body doesn’t properly process food, resulting in sugars building up in the blood. Unfortunately it can cause very serious health complications including heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, and lower-extremity amputations.1 Symptoms can include some (or none) of the following:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme hunger
- Sudden vision changes
- Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
- Feeling very tired much of the time
- Very dry skin
- Sores that are slow to heal
- More infections than usual
March 22 is American Diabetes Association Alert Day, but no matter where in the world you live, it’s a good day to take this quick online test to determine your risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes. That’s because if you don’t already have diabetes, there are some simple lifestyle changes you can make to help lower your risk of developing this debilitating disease.
Obviously after taking the online risk assessment test, your next step should be visiting your doctor for a simple blood test. Results will determine if your blood sugar levels are within the normal range, particularly if the online test indicates that you are at high risk of developing diabetes. If your doctor gives you a clean bill of health, the next thing you should do is take all the necessary steps to help prevent diabetes.
The Mayo Clinic2 recommends the following for diabetes prevention:
- Get more physical activity. Not only will exercise help you lose weight, but it will also lower your blood sugar and boost your sensitivity to insulin which helps keep blood sugar within a normal range.
- Eat plenty of fiber. Fiber improves your blood sugar control, lowers your risk of heart disease, and promotes weight loss by helping you feel fuller longer.
- Choose whole grains. These help maintain blood sugar levels, so try to make at least half of your grains whole grains. Breads, cereals, and pastas often have whole grain options, making it simple to add them to your diet.
- Lose extra weight. Every single pound you lose can improve your health. In fact, one study showed that losing just 7% of your initial body weight and exercising regularly reduces the risk of developing diabetes by almost 60%. So if you weigh 200 pounds that means losing 14 pounds.
- Make healthy food choices. Yes, losing weight is important, but so is maintaining a healthy diet. Skip those notoriously unhealthy fad diets and crash diets that are impossible to sustain, and stick to a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Also take care to be aware of portion control.
The sooner you know that you have, or are at risk for developing, diabetes, the sooner you can start making changes to control (or prevent) the disease and improve your long-term health outlook. So don’t delay; take the quick online test, visit your doctor, and make a few simple but important changes that can help keep you healthy.
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